Who doesn’t love a Hollywood heist? No matter how absurd or improbable they may be, I always enjoy watching an elaborate film caper that fits together like a perfect jigsaw puzzle. I’ve longed to play a video game that really captures that feeling but like games payday haven’t quite scratched the itch yet.
tear down could be the first video game to actually get what makes a movie heist so exciting. Developed by Tuxedo Labs, the indie title just got its official 1.0 launch this month – and it’s terrific. It may look like a Minecraft mod at first glance, but tear down shines as a destruction sandbox, ingenious puzzle game and exciting action title at the same time. It’s the best I’ve seen in a video game that captures the spirit of movies like ocean 11.
tear downThe campaign begins with a simple, humble mission. The main character, who runs a demolition company, is tasked with demolishing a building. It’s a simple tutorial that shows players that every piece of the blocky voxel art environment can be broken.
There’s just one problem: the house they’re supposed to destroy doesn’t actually belong to the person who contacted you, sparking a war between anonymous rich clients who start emailing the character criminal requests. Players delve into different destructible levels to destroy safes, secretly steal documents and steal cars.
Of course, no heist is that simple. The added twist is that stealing or destroying something usually causes an alarm to go off. Once it starts, players have 60 seconds to complete their heist and jump into their getaway vehicle before the police arrive. This forces players to become Danny Ocean themselves as they must create elaborate plans to perform a caper within a given time limit.
tear down is characterized by making players feel like a criminal mastermind. Each story mission begins with players “coating the joint” to start the crime. In one mission, I’m tasked with stealing some safes from a rich man’s mansion and throwing them into his pool. If the safes are hit with water, an alarm goes off – and unfortunately, it’s raining. I have to get each safe in the perfect position so I can quickly tip it into the water when everything is ready and run to the exit.
A safe is located in a garage next to the mansion. Taking it to the pool would mean usually dragging it outside and in the rain. Instead, I notice that there’s a catwalk connecting the two buildings, so I plant demolition charges on the garage wall and use them as a dry cover to bring the safe into the mansion. Another is on the top floor of the mansion. I could try to pull it in an elevator and take it to the lower floor where the pool is. Instead, I blast away the ground beneath with bombs. It’s messy, but it works. The last safe I plan on cracking happens to be in a room with some fancy sports cars, so I steal one and put it on a nearby street for a quick escape.
At first it seemed impossible to dispose of four safes and get away with it clean. But with a careful build-up (one that consisted of blowing holes through every wall I could find) I had got away with the perfect crime in less than a minute.
tear down is full of such moments that function as both thoughtful puzzles and exciting action scenes. In one mission, I steal a car by driving it off the top floor of a mansion like I’m Vin Diesel Fast five. In another, I carefully park a dump truck under a building so I can shove in a heavy safe and get it out in 10 seconds. Each mission plays out like a different heist scene, challenging players to creatively build a path to each objective using bombs, cannons, ramps, and more.
All of that is before we even get into the simplest pleasure the game offers: everything blows up spectacularly. Each voxel car or building shatters in a particle blast that will test even the most powerful PCs. For those who don’t care much for the speed-based puzzles of its campaign, the game’s sandbox mode simply lets players blast buildings to pieces. The power of tear down is that you can be either a mastermind or a mindless master, and each approach is equally fun.
Teardown is the freshest video game I’ve played this year and has achieved something big budget games have yet to crack. It understands that the thrill of a heist is as much in the planning as it is in the execution. When Danny Ocean orchestrates an intricate plan with tons of moving parts, he builds the ultimate puzzle solution. tear down understands that successful action only works with the right anticipation.
tear down is out of Early Access and available now on PC.
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