Shacknews Best Early Access Game of 2020 - Teardown

Some people just want to watch the world burn, fall over, crumble, explode...


The idea of intentionally releasing a video game that is unfinished would be laughable as recently as fifteen years ago but is now commonly accepted as a thing to do in modern gaming. Sometimes a development team lacks the funds to complete their vision and uses early access sales revenue to make a final push, other studios use the time to solicit feedback directly from their players. However the different developers utilize their time in early access, these unfinished games can often be as fun and engaging as any project that waited till version 1.0 to reach the masses. 

This year the early access release that caught the eye of the Shacknews Staff happened to be Teardown, a voxel-based physics sandbox that is barely a game at all in its current state. Despite a rigid structure and loads of content, Teardown excels on the strength of its open-ended design and outstanding visuals. The team at Tuxedo Labs has been teasing Twitter with video clips from the project for years, allowing a bit of hype to build. 

Teardown features a world built from small, square voxels. These cubes are assembled into buildings, trees, vehicles, or anything else you find in the game world. What makes the experience so special is that the player is able to reduce everything in sight back down into the pile of cubes from which it was assembled. This can be done with a sledgehammer, explosives, or by using one of the many user-operable machines scattered through the levels. 

If you knock the supporting bricks out from under a building, the physics system ensures that it will come crashing down in a satisfying fashion. The fire propagation system is as satisfying as anything we’ve seen since Far Cry 2. Even the included fire extinguisher is a hoot to use as the voxel spray from its spout resembles cotton candy. 

While the mission structure revolves around heists that require players to infiltrate and escape various properties in the name of corporate espionage or simple insurance fraud. These constructs serve as a primitive way to introduce players to the destruction and tasks them with dreaming up new ways to be a demolition jerk.

This is undoubtedly the best-looking voxel game ever released, featuring path-traced lighting that rivals the biggest AAA games and a physics system that continues to impress the more you spend time with it. The modding community is already thriving as folks have discovered ways to import 3D scans of real-life buildings and areas into Teardown’s novel engine with little effort. The future is bright for this one and we cannot wait to see the direction Tuxedo Labs and the community take the game on its journey to 1.0.

Check out the other winners from The Shacknews Awards 2020 in our Year of the Games: 2020 article.

Contributing Tech Editor

Chris Jarrard likes playing games, crankin' tunes, and looking for fights on obscure online message boards. He understands that breakfast food is the only true food. Don't @ him.

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