Demolition, Inc. Review
Being a demolition guy is perhaps the most satisfactory job there is. You get paid to blow things up, is that not ridiculously inviting? From our youth we have been crushing ant hills and beating up our younger siblings, now it’s time to destroy whole cities. Am I right!? Well, Demolition, Inc. is going to let you get a little closer to that realisation, but it is certainly not going to make it an easy task. After all, this is a strategy game but do not get put off; there are exploding cows, cars jumping off ramps into buildings and earthquakes under your control. Surely that is much more fun than simply pressing a big red button to level a few blocks?
Before Demolition, Inc. even delves into its gameplay, it is clear that it wants to have some fun. You meet its comic protagonist; a lime green demolition alien called Mike, as he enjoys a drive through space tapping out the beats to the game’s incredibly catchy soundtrack. He even holds his head out of the window to catch the breeze as he casually steers his demolition ship towards Earth. He is clearly having such a good time that he forgets there is no air in space. Established here, is the game’s very accessible arcade style. Consequently, you will be very eager to get stuck right in and start blowing things up. The game soon puts up the barriers though and reminds you that strategy games require a little more thought than that.
Under contract with the Society of the Protection of Endangered Planets (S.P.E.P.), you set off to destroy four bustling cities in favour of the green glow of trees and grass. It’s a good enough excuse to cause utter destruction. Part of me wanted Demolition, Inc. to be absolutely bonkers and deliver the cheap thrill of watching things blow up as often as possible. The game does not deliver this braindead form of gameplay though. Instead, its patience and adherence to actual strategy left me fairly appreciative of its design. Zeroscale could have easily formed a game that boils down to each click of the mouse resulting in fiery chaos, but they have taken the time to chisel a challenge. Each level consists of a basic city structure; buildings are scattered around in clusters, with the traffic-filled roads running between them. The objective is to destroy all of the towering buildings. The variable factors are the amount and type of resources the player can use to do this, and how long they have before the army are sent in to shoot down your alien ship.
Starting off fairly easily, players will get to grips with causing traffic to slide into buildings with oil puddles and wheel glue. The right mouse button sucks up all the mess with your hovering spaceship so that the traffic can keep flowing. Certain marked buildings also drop coins when destroyed and give the player more of those vital resources. Planning out how to use resources in the most effective way and prioritising buildings will get those cogs turning in the player’s brain. Failure is almost inevitable at first with either the planning stage chewing up too much of the time limit, or certain resources being wasted due to poor placement. Barriers and ramps are soon introduced and the player is allowed to manually control the cars; well, they can steer them left or right. This is perhaps the most awkward part of the game as the cars accelerate under player control and they handle like crap. The game also forgets to inform the player at first that it is much easier to zoom right in when attempting to steer a car.
Despite the lacklustre graphics, the physics engine combined with the thoughtful gameplay delivers the satisfaction that it should do. Watching buildings topple into each other is rarely boring. The best moments are when something unplanned happens. As the gameplay is all very controlled – with each moment of destruction being the result of a good dose of planning – when a building randomly blows up due to the dynamic physics, it feels like a bonus due to your hard work so far. Of course, the player is rewarded from time to time with something a little more…exciting. Earthquake bombs and destruction balls are immense fun to use, but are only dished out when the player has earned them. The latter levels in the game are much harder than the first and will require a lot of trial and error; due to the both the limitations enforced on the player and the unreliability of steering the cars. The level designs are surprisingly subtle at times as well, with remotely detonated explosives often being vital to completion.
The main problem with Demolition, Inc. is that sometimes it is not fun enough. As rewarding as watching the buildings topple due to your hard work is, as this is an arcade game you sometimes feel the need to leave the strategy behind and blow things up. The game’s Rampage Mode should deliver this, but it still requires a little thought and has the player replaying the same levels. Despite granting the player the maximum capacity of resources at the start, the Rampage Mode is not as fun as it sounds and instead feels mostly pointless. Even more so, the game lacks variation in the resources available to the player as well as the objectives throughout the levels. The latter point could have been worked on especially to provide a more exciting playthrough. Different challenges like driving a car through a path of exploding buildings to a finish point, or placing a number of exploding cows around the place so that a domino effect causes all the buildings to topple in one go, would be more than welcome. The Burnout series with its Crash Mode is a good example of how Demolition, Inc. could have varied up its challenges and objectives. There are literally thousands of ideas that could be implemented with the tools in Demolition, Inc., but the developers have just played off the same idea over and over again. It’s a bit of a shame in that regards, but the game as it stands is still a good strategy game. Rewarding its players for their careful planning despite its deceptive arcade-style presentation makes Demolition, Inc. a worthwhile title for those seeking a casual strategy experience.
Find out more about Zeroscale and Demolition, Inc. at www.zeroscale.com/
Review summary Pros:
Arcade presentation, satisfying physics engine, catchy soundtrack, requires patience and thought
Needs more variation, crappy car handling feels unfair