As with all solo developer games, it was a lot of fun having a preview of Instruments of Destruction. Currently in early access, the game was made by one man studio Radiangames, created by Luke Schnieder. It wasn’t surprising to find out the developer had worked on Red Faction II and Red Faction: Guerrilla given the destruction inherent to the game. Mechanically the game is sound. It’s a lot of fun building your vehicles and unleashing them on destructible buildings over 10 levels. However, the game may lack replayability. That being said, there’s a lot to still be added and it’s a phenomenal piece of work from a one man team. It also has a wonderfully catchy trailer.
Story – Trucking Along
Ah yes, the story. You are a truck, or a bulldozer, or a flying artillery machine. Your imagination, and engineering skills are the limit. Don’t go in expecting deep plot, not that you were for Instruments of Destruction. You are here to hit, smash, cut and crush your way through the levels. If you love destruction, this may be for you. That’s all the game needs.
There are currently 10 levels available. Each with it’s own variation of challenges, depending on the map and the difficulty level. That’s all there is to say on the story. If you wanted to be a demolition inventor, this is the chance for you.
Gameplay – On Track for Awesome
Now this is where the Instruments of Destruction early access kicks off. The key gameplay loop is this. You have an island with several buildings on it. Some are to be destroyed (Shanty towns, towers, walls etc) and others need to be left untouched (the ruins). You must then create a machine that can destroy the parts you need to, and avoid destroying the ruins. The amount of the ruins you can break changes depending on the difficulty.
Now that you know your objectives, you need to build the machine, considering weight limits and budget. There’s a great variety of ways to make these machines, the developers have gone all out. I’m currently trying to make an elephant digger. It can be a little difficult to figure out at first, but the game is surprisingly intuitive. However a proper tutorial would go along way to helping new players get into the game. You’ll need to hone down your designs until they work. Maybe the chassis is too light and lacks stability, or you need to make a stronger destruction tool. No two designs will be the same. There’s a good sized selection of ways to custom your vehicle. You can use pivots, saws, wrecking balls, magnets and more (with even more to be added).
The learning curve and thrill of reinventing various construction equipment is certainly satisfying. Especially given the fantastic demolition physics. You really feel like you’ve achieved something when you get a design to work.
Instruments of Destruction also comes with pre-built designs in the early access preview. These are a mix of effective and ridiculous. Such as the Death Wish which can carpet bomb the area. These will save you the time of building your own and take you straight to the destruction whilst giving you ideas on how to improve on your designs. However, this is less fun than building it yourself.
Sandbox and Distract mode
The Instruments of Destruction Early Access preview comes with 2 extra features as well. The sandbox is a free build section, with no limits on weight and budget. You can even lower or raise the gravity which does make for some whacky situations. The maps are a bit limited, mostly just being the same islands the levels take place on. It’s a nice touch to let you unleash your creativity though with no limits. Perhaps the sandbox mode could use customisable islands, or at least some more densely packed one. Distract mode is another new feature, letting you bomb the islands via mouse clicks from the main menu. It’s pretty cool, but it isn’t likely to distract you very long.
Is it Replayable?
The main problem the developers will face is replayability. Vehicle building games with sandbox elements are normally good for this. However the game can become a bit of a slog, especially if you’re struggling to make effective designs. It remains to be seen what can be done before the full launch, but at the moment a lot of the missions are a bit boring. For example, level 5 feels like busy work wherein you destroy walls surrounding ruins. It’s a challenge, but a bit frustrating having to be so careful when the games at it’s best when letting you cause all out mayhem. At some point though you will have explored your options and made some great vehicles but be left with not much to do with them.
Graphics and Audio – Physics of Destruction
Given the Red Faction pedigree you may not need me to tell you the preview of Instruments of Destruction has great physics. The graphics are simple but more than acceptable for the game. There’s simple yet attractive visuals for the islands. Don’t let the simplicity fool you though, pretty much everything can break it thousands of pieces. The audio is great too. These two combine with physics engine to make a truly satisfying building collapse. Sparks fly, debris hits nearby buildings and the world and objects in it react. It’s a well-built engine with a decent graphics and great sound effects.
The music is a bit much, at least for me. It’s high energy catchy tunes that fit the game but got on my nerves after a while. That’s a minor gripe. You can turn the music off and blast your own if you prefer. It’s also a nice game to play with a podcast in the background so don’t let the music get you down.
Instruments of Destruction Early Access was previewed on Steam, with a key provided by RadianGames.