Untangling the Art of Destruction in Abriss Demo

It’s kind of weird there aren’t more games about breaking things.  Blast Corps. is a classic, of course, and the Boom Blox games on Wii were all kinds of entertaining, but more often than not the destruction is a side-effect rather than the point.  “Fully destructible environments” is usually a feature, something extra you can do along the way while shooting or exploding the bad guys.  In Abriss, though, it’s the whole point of the game, with the destruction being the end result of solving a physics puzzle by stacking and connecting pieces just right in order to completely demolish a series of derelict structures.  Technically the point is to take out the red glowing orbs embedded in the building but doing the bare minimum wouldn’t earn the satisfying chain reaction that comes from walls of debris shattering into thousands of component pieces.

For all the fun of destruction, getting there is going to take a bit of experimentation.  The Abriss demo is a small little thing, four levels plus a tutorial and a limited sandbox mode, but the tools it gives are still enough to create some inventive contraptions.  The tutorial is basically a guide to stacking heavy crates in a stair-step pattern so gravity does all the work of dropping the blocks through the building, but vertical and horizontal beams, connectors, hinges, lasers, and a mechanized rotator get added to the toybox by the end of the demo.  In the main levels you only get a set number of pieces to take down the building, with a percentage at the end tallying up the destruction level, but the sandbox gives you infinite pieces to experiment with.  The rocket piece isn’t part of the demo but I decided I could fake it with rotators, because adding a bunch of them together multiplies the speed of rotation.  Attach a connector to the last rotator, a beam to the connector, and another connector at the end to act as a hammer and you can use it to launch another beam right through the heart of a building, sending it flying off the foundation as its core shatters.  I mean sure, for efficiency you could just pop a laser on a rotator and let it disintegrate the bottom level of the building, but what’s the fun in that?

The Abriss demo is just a small piece of what’s to come but it’s already a greatly entertaining toybox of destruction.  It’s satisfying to pull off a new build, coming up with a different way to demolish everything and setting personal goals while doing it.  Nobody says you have to use all the pieces a level gives you, after all, and while one of the levels is based around using two moves to clear everything, with a little experimentation that turns out to be one more move than necessary.  It also doesn’t hurt that the art design is fantastically stylish, a little too detailed to be fully brutalist but definitely in the same neighborhood, set to a moody soundtrack that fits the visuals but doesn’t weigh down the destruction.  The demo is currently available over at itch.io and makes for a great evening’s entertainment.

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