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July 2024

Instruments Of Destruction

Platform(s): PC, PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X
Genre: Action/Adventure
Developer: Radiangames
Release Date: May 10, 2024

About Tony "OUberLord" Mitera

I've been entrenched in the world of game reviews for almost a decade, and I've been playing them for even longer. I'm primarily a PC gamer, though I own and play pretty much all modern platforms. When I'm not shooting up the place in the online arena, I can be found working in the IT field, which has just as many computers but far less shooting. Usually.


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PC Review - 'Instruments of Destruction'

by Tony "OUberLord" Mitera on June 14, 2024 @ 12:00 a.m. PDT

Instruments Of Destruction is a vehicle-building sandbox featuring advanced physics-based destruction.

There are certain game niches that are underserved, and one is certainly "physics-based destruction." Instruments of Destruction immediately struck me as a cross between Red Faction: Guerrilla and Blast Corps, an ancient Nintendo 64 game that I rented from a Blockbuster back when it was new. When I saw those same two games noted as inspirations by the developer, I think they may be closer to that mark than they realized.

Instruments of Destruction is not a complicated game. You work as the operator of a series of increasingly over-the-top vehicles designed solely for the purpose of destruction, and you're tasked with clearing out some abandoned structures on a remote island chain. The game is level based, and each level presents a primary objective in addition to a secondary objective that can take a little more skill to achieve. Each level presents a new vehicle for you to wreak havoc with, and man, the Blast Corps reference is accurate. Sure, in the first level you drive a bulldozer; in the very next level, you pilot a physics-defying ball that can leap into the air and ground-pound for maximum carnage.

This is an area where Instruments of Destruction uses its imagination. It's not a series of creative escalations, as every now and again, you're back in something relatively mundane. In one mission, you might be in a bulldozer, but it can "punch" its scoop forward to inflict even more force. In another, you might drive what can only be described as a massive weaponized spatula that you drive into (and under) a structure. Then you toss the whole thing up and behind you like a catapult. The bonus objective of that mission is to use smaller buildings as projectiles to destroy others that you otherwise can't reach.

Refreshingly, some missions are timed, but even that is merely the bonus objective. Many missions don't have any time limit at all. That doesn't make them any less challenging to clear, but it allows you to take your time and solidify your approach in trying to achieve them. It is incredibly quick and easy to restart the current level with no penalty, so it's not like mistakes matter too much. It's nice to have a game focused on destruction that isn't beholden to imposing failure if you run out the clock.

The destruction is glorious to behold. While some vehicles are more spectacular in their demolition approach than others, watching buildings buckle and crumble never gets old. Any individual building is clearly constructed out of a bunch of individual pieces, but upon impact, not only does the structure shatter, but those individual pieces also break apart further. You can't grind it down into gravel, but with enough whacks, a building will become little more than a physics-reactive pile of relatively tiny chunks.

I wish the physics in the game allowed for buildings to topple sideways more readily. Perhaps it's just due to all the times I did the same in Red Faction: Guerrilla, but it's a lot harder to get buildings to fall laterally in Instruments of Destruction. They start to tilt, but as they begin to fall, the lower pieces of the building crumble as they make contact with the ground instead of providing a pivot point. It is what it is, and the game isn't designed around being able to do that, but I am a sucker for using one building to destroy another.

If you're feeling particularly creative and want to design your own vehicles of mass destruction, you are in luck, as the "Build & Destroy" mode lets you do that. The first few levels walk you through the basics of how to construct a custom ride, but after a while, the mode lets you just have free rein to build whatever vehicle you think is best for the objectives. What you end up with can be super simple, or you can end up with something incredibly complicated. It's a modular, cube-based system that lets you do whatever you want; there are no costs or weight limits.

The game features full Steam workshop integration for custom levels and custom vehicles, and some of the stuff people have already come up with is insane. Giant rocket-powered hammers can smash things from above. Aircraft can drop bombs or hover and spin giant blades around them. Railguns can punch holes clean through buildings. You can also see the vehicles in the editor to pick apart what makes them work and learn from them to apply new ideas to your designs.

Instruments of Destruction is a very simple idea that's been executed well. Breaking stuff is fun, and it's even more fun when every bit of that debris is fully reactive to physics. The different game modes offer completely different ways to play, and then there's a full Sandbox mode where you can use any vehicle on any level you want. While the game can certainly challenge you at times, it's always fun to wield your vehicle and decide that a building shouldn't exist anymore.

Score: 8.7/10

Reviewed on: AMD Ryzen 7 5800X3D, 32 GB RAM, NVidia RTX 4070 Ti

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