|Release||29 October 2020 (early access)|
|Genre(s)||Sandbox, puzzle, action|
Teardown is an upcoming sandbox, puzzle and action game developed and published by Tuxedo Labs. The game features levels made entirely of destructible voxels. Each mission features a set of objectives to be completed within one minute. During the setup phase, which has no time limit, a path to complete these objectives as quickly as possible can be created by reshaping the game world.
Teardown uses a proprietary game engine developed by Dennis Gustafsson, who, in conjunction with Emil Bengtsson, used it for several game prototypes. After settling on the two-part heist format, Gustafsson announced the game as Teardown in October 2019. It became available as an early access title in October 2020 and was met with positive reviews.
Teardown is a sandbox game with puzzle and action elements. The player assumes the role of the owner of Löckelle Teardown Services, a company that is in severe debt and must take on dubious jobs for financing. The player can freely navigate the game's five open-world levels, which are made entirely of destructible voxels. They are given one or more objectives—such as destroying or stealing certain objects, or razing a building—of which some are required and others optional. In the first part of the game, there are twenty missions with different sets of objectives. Any structure can be destroyed using a given set of tools, including a sledgehammer, bombs, and a shotgun, while others can be erected using planks. Further tools are unlocked during the gameplay, while already acquired tools can be upgraded using cash earned from collecting valuables scattered throughout levels. A spray can helps to mark routes or points of interest, while a fire extinguisher can put out fires. Ridable vehicles—such as trucks, cranes, excavators, and boats—are placed within levels and can also be destroyed. Explosives, such as propane tanks, are found in some levels. The ultimate aim is for the player to create an efficient path that would let them complete the objectives as quickly as possible.
The initial setup has no time limit. Once an alarm is triggered by stealing a first item or starting a fire, a 60-second timer begins. Within this timeframe, the player needs to complete all required objectives and reach the getaway vehicle. Failing to do so results in the player losing. Missions can be restarted or previous progress loaded from a quick save. Some levels replace the countdown with an escape sequence in which the player is chased by a weaponized helicopter. In a separate "sandbox" mode, the player can experiment with the unlocked levels without an objective. Custom levels and structures can be modelled using the program MagicaVoxel and imported into the game. Teardown also includes a level editor and integration with the Steam Workshop.
Teardown was developed by Tuxedo Labs, the indie game studio of the Swedish programmer Dennis Gustafsson. Gustafsson had previously been involved with companies developing middleware for game physics. Together with Henrik Johansson, he had founded the game development studio Mediocre in 2010, where they worked on games like Smash Hit and PinOut. After shutting down Mediocre in 2017, Gustafsson began working on technology for destructible environments using voxels, an idea he had been looking to pursue for some time. Voxels appeared easier to implement because regular polygons would have led to arbitrary geometry with overly complex collision detection. Inspired by MagicaVoxel, he implemented the voxel technology alongside real-time ray tracing, which the simplicity of voxel-based scenes made possible. Gustafsson subsequently created a proprietary game engine that integrated both aspects. During its development, Gustafsson faced issues implementing stress and eventually became reconciled to the problem, designing the technology around it instead.
After successfully creating a voxel sandbox, he worked alongside former Mediocre designer Emil Bengtsson to create game concepts that made use of the technology. Several ideas were floated, starting with a driving game in which the player would drive into and topple objects. This concept appeared unfavourable because the destruction was merely used as an effect rather than as part of the gameplay. Several stealth game prototypes followed over the span of several months, but Gustafsson and Bengtsson were unable to construct stealth gameplay where the enemies were insensitive to the sound of the player's destruction. One survival game prototype that was explored featured giant spiders, but Gustafsson and Bengtsson were generally not content with the use of enemies, as they would disrupt the destructive gameplay. Lastly, Gustafsson and Bengtsson toyed with a heist concept, requiring the player to steal a predefined set of objects. The task in that concept was considered too trivial, while limited tools and use of caches were found too restrictive. Seven months into the development, after the two could not come to a mutually liked gameplay variant, Bengtsson left the project in early 2019. Gustafsson further experimented with the technology on his own, refusing to drop the work he had already put into it. He stated that it was difficult to find a justification for the possible destruction in the game without resorting to a shooter game or violent gameplay in general.
Gustafsson shared the progress of his technology via Twitter, starting in 2018. Early commented gameplay was later released by Bluedrake42 on YouTube. In August 2019, Gustafsson announced that he would be creating a game from the technology. He came up with the two-part heist structure, which he said was "compatible with all the limitations (or lack thereof) that a fully destructible environment impose [sic], while still offering an interesting challenge". Within the second phase of the structure, Gustafsson weighed several methods to impose a time restriction—such as setting the level in a cave that is slowly flooded—and eventually settled on a plain countdown. The initial levels he designed for this concept were long, straight corridors that the player would have travelled down to obtain an item, then go back the same route to reach the escape vehicle. After Bengtsson re-joined the project, the two discovered that the game played much better when it featured multiple objectives in a non-linear open world, which became the final design.
The game, now titled Teardown, was revealed on 1 October 2019. The announcement was coupled with the release of a walkthrough video, a website, and a preparatory Steam storefront entry. Later development updates by Gustafsson documented dynamic weather, further vehicles and levels, and other content being added. Gustafsson and Bengtsson collaborated with Kabi Jedhagen, Niklas Mäckle, Olle Lundahl, and Stefan Jonsson, who provided additional design and art. Teardown's music and sound design was composed by Douglas Holmquist, who had worked on many of Mediocre's games, starting in November 2019 before joining the project full-time in February 2020. For each of the seven materials processed by the game engine (wood, metal, glass, plastic, masonry, foliage, and dirt), Holmquist created impact and break sounds in three sizes and with multiple variations of each size. He also created looping squeak sounds for metal and wooden joints. Foley for each material were recorded in conjunction with Mathias Schlegel, a sound engineer and friend of Holmquist. Further sounds by Holmquist were made for a shotgun (using a Benelli M4), a handgun (with a Colt M1911), vehicles, and ambience. During the development, unused sounds he had created for Smash Hit were recycled as placeholders. The soundtrack for the game's Part 1 was created using a Minimoog Model D, Fender Jaguar, Fender Deluxe Reverb, Fender Jazz Bass, Neumann TLM-103, Neumann KM-184, Shure SM57, Shure BETA57A, Korg SV-2, Way Huge Pork Loin, Rogers 70's drum kit, and Logic Pro X. It was performed by Holmquist with Andreas Baw on the drums and mastered by Håkan Åkesson at Nutid Studio. The Part 1 soundtrack was released via Bandcamp on 1 December 2020.
Teardown was revealed anew in a trailer shown during Gamescom: Opening Night Live in August 2020. The game was planned to be released as an early access title for Microsoft Windows later in 2020. In October 2020, Gustafsson formalised this release date to be 29 October 2020, and made the game available as scheduled. The early access phase was to last approximately one year, subject to change depending on player feedback. The initial release included one half of the game, Part 1, with the second in development by January 2021. Part 2 is set to added further missions and tools, as well as robots as enemies.
During its early access phase, Teardown received positive reviews. Graham Smith of Rock Paper Shotgun lauded Teardown's voxel destruction mechanics and their intrinsic value to the gameplay, considering the technology to excel that of foregone games like Red Faction: Guerrilla. GameStar's Christian Just praised the game's sandbox approach to level destruction and the technology's level of detail. Rick Lane of Bit-Tech called the game's puzzles "highly open ended yet beautifully challenging". Smith called the game "rarely frustrating" due to its use of quick saves, which was echoed by Andy Kelly of PC Gamer. Smith also regarded the successful completion of a level within 60 seconds, after having spent up to an hour planning the route, as an "enormous reward". Likewise, Nathan Grayson of Kotaku stated that "it felt amazing" to complete a level with little time left. Connor Sheridan of GamesRadar+ regarded the game's music as "slick". Lane noted that the visual style was "splendid". Eurogamer's Robert Purchese stated that he was amazed by the existence of a story.
In December 2020, Shacknews named Teardown the best early access game of that year. The site's Chris Jarrard noted that the game "excels on the strength of its open-ended design and outstanding visuals". Rock Paper Shotgun editors cited Teardown as one of their favourite games of 2020. The game won the "Excellence in Design" award and was nominated for the "Seumas McNally Grand Prize" at the 2021 Independent Games Festival. On Steam, Teardown was among the best-selling games within the first day of its early-access release. Out of more than 1,800 reviews by players, 96% were positive, indicating an "overwhelmingly positive" reception. Players created art using the in-game mechanics, as well as mods and custom levels for the game.
Just felt that, despite its technical prowess, the game was lacking in varying content, making it feel "lifeless and dull" after an initial "wow effect". He called the game's worlds "oddly cold and empty" and further cited a perceived lack of optimisation. Smith criticised some imprecise interactions between the game's elements, such as the player colliding with "glitchy" object edges or large, partially destroyed structures being supported by very few voxels due to a lack of stress.