Build the wrecking machine of your dreams in this glorious destruction sandbox

If you're into physics destruction sandboxes like Besiege and Teardown, this game oughta be on your radar: Instruments of Destruction is now in Steam Early Access. Not only can you build massive vehicles and adorn them with wrecking balls, chainsaws, rockets, and cannons, but you can use them to smash the ever-living heck out of buildings with some of the most beautiful and satisfying destruction physics I've ever seen. 

Start small with a quick campaign that takes you across 10 little islands, each with its own main and bonus objectives. Knock down a tower while not damaging the stone ruins it's standing next to, destroy 75% of the buildings and blow up at least 5 explosive barrels, or just speed a vehicle to a series of checkpoints (while smashing through stuff along the way). 

But first you can build your siege engine by quickly sticking together parts and pieces from a surprisingly hefty menu filled with metal frames, swiveling joints, chunky tires and treads, rocket boosters, and all the destructive stuff: sawblades, wrecking balls, cannons, and even giant magnets. The only limits are the budget for each level and your devious imagination.

Don't worry if (like me) you're not much of a builder. You can get right to the awesome destruction part thanks to a collection of premade vehicles, with more added each time you successfully complete (destroy) an island. From simple little bulldozers to giant metal spiders bristling with spiked wrecking balls, you're bound to find the mechanical monster of your dreams even if you don't build it yourself.

The destruction is nothing short of mesmerizing. Swing a cluster of wrecking balls like it's a crane-operated flail and watch a tower turn into a cloud of flying bricks, dust, and shrapnel. Windows shatter, walls crumble, sparks fly, and towers topple in a display that somehow doesn't melt my GPU into a molten puddle.

The beauty of the destruction effects may not be all that surprising—developer Radiangames was founded by Luke Schneider, lead tech artist on Red Faction Guerrilla, which had deliriously glorious building-smashing effects, too.

Heck, even the ground shatters and crumbles if you make a wild swing with a wrecking ball and miss the building you were aiming for. In one level where there were bridges connecting several islands, I wound up having to restart because just driving back and forth across the bridge with tank treads damaged it until the whole thing collapsed into the drink. (Your machines can do a lot, but they can't swim.) In a world where everything is destructible and you're driving a wrecking machine, you do sometimes need to be a little careful.

Once you've sharpened your teeth on the campaign, you can replay each level with new challenges, like time limits and a higher percentage of destruction required to pass. And naturally there's a sandbox mode with a few additional maps to build and drive new vehicles with no constraints whatsoever. There are over 200 slots to save your vehicle creations in, and a library of premade vehicles to test-drive and modify. 

Fun as it is, Instruments of Destruction is a little light when it comes to the actual sandbox at the moment—most of the islands are pretty tiny and it doesn't take long to wreck everything on them, even with extra challenges thrown in. There's also no way to share vehicles with other players at the moment, but that should change in the near future: Radiangames says Instruments of Destruction will remain in Early Access for at least a year, if not more, during which time new islands and vehicle parts will be added. Steam Workshop support is also in the works.

Christopher Livingston
Senior Editor

Chris started playing PC games in the 1980s, started writing about them in the early 2000s, and (finally) started getting paid to write about them in the late 2000s. Following a few years as a regular freelancer, PC Gamer hired him in 2014, probably so he'd stop emailing them asking for more work. Chris has a love-hate relationship with survival games and an unhealthy fascination with the inner lives of NPCs. He's also a fan of offbeat simulation games, mods, and ignoring storylines in RPGs so he can make up his own.