The physics-based vehicle destruction game I've waited two years for just hit 1.0 with a full campaign inspired by 1997's Blast Corps

I'm a simple man. You put a physics-based vehicle destruction game in front of me and I'm likely to gobble it up. Such was my reaction to Instruments of Destruction when it came to early access back in 2022, but I held back my hunger for destruction, instead opting to wait for its beautiful demolition tech to gain some structure.

That day has arrived: Instruments of Destruction, from one-person studio Radiangames, hit 1.0 today after two years in the oven, and the work shows. New to 1.0 is a full 50+ mission campaign that asks you to tactically destroy, avoid, or gingerly toss structures in 100+ prebuilt vehicles. So far I've been in the seat of a simple bulldozer, a rolly ball with jump and smash buttons, a tractor that shoots explosive cannonballs, and a truck with front-mounted saw blades and a platform that punts entire buildings into the air. Levels are less than five minutes each with bonus objectives, and completing each one unlocks a challenge version for repeat playthroughs. It's such a joy that I had to tear myself away after blazing through the tutorial world this morning.

There's a granularity to IoD's destruction that immediately makes my brain happy. The rubble's not as busy or dense as something like Teardown, but its pared-down debris serves its vehicle focus well. You'll never get fully stuck in a pile of crap, which is what you want in a driving game that sometimes includes a timer. I love what full-throttling forward with a six-wheeled monstrosity can do to an office building in IoD—concrete pillars obliterate into smaller bricks, windows panels fall fall out of their sockets before shattering and, most impressively, battered structures that lose supports will realistically fall of their own volition.

Speaking of, it won't surprise you to learn that before Radiangames founder Luke Schneider was making his own destruction game, he lent his talents to the now-defunct Volition as lead technical/multiplayer designer on Red Faction: Guerilla (among other projects). He left the studio in 2010 to go indie, making mostly mobile games along the way. Instruments of Destruction is his biggest solo project by my estimation, and likely his best work yet. Physics-based destruction is in his blood.

Instruments of Destruction - Building flip"

One of Instruments of Destruction's other core influences comes from an obscure gem: Rare's very first Nintendo 64 game, Blast Corps. Schneider was inspired by the 1997 vehicle destruct-a-thon when designing his campaign, though interestingly, it didn't start that way. When he released IoD in early access in 2022, he expected everyone to compare it to another vehicular destruction puzzler, Besiege. They did, but another game kept coming up, too.

"When I released the game's original early access release date trailer in February of 2022, another game was mentioned even more often than Besiege: Rare's classic N64 game, Blast Corps," Schneider wrote in a recent blog post recapping development.

Schneider's original idea for making his destruction simulator/builder into a proper game was a "combat-focused" challenge mode with "roguelike elements," but after a while he didn't feel good about where it was going.

"In early 2023, I finally played Blast Corps through Xbox Game Pass. Even though it looked dated to my eyes (I'm not a fan of blurry textures), it was also very clear to me: Blast Corps was more fun to play than Instruments of Destruction," he continued.

Chainsaw tank smashing through building

(Image credit: Radiangames)

"It wasn't really the moment-to-moment gameplay or missions itself that stood out, but the simplicity and flow of the whole experience. It felt rewarding and things moved quickly between missions. There was a variety of vehicles and objectives, and missions were quick and fun. I needed to bring that flow and experience to Instruments, and let the standout elements of the game shine through. For Instruments that means the campaign should focus on vehicles, destruction, and physics."

And so he did. It must be weird to learn after the fact that your vehicle destruction game reminds people of a 90s vehicle destruction game you've never played, but what a cool outcome that Blast Corps helped Schneider crack the code on his campaign.

Instruments of Destruction 1.0 is out now on Steam, and there's a lot to it. Beyond the main campaign, there's also a 25 mission "epilogue" campaign where you become the mechanic, building your vehicles before tackling objectives. It also has full Steam Workshop support and an editor that'll one day let players design their own missions.

Morgan Park
Staff Writer

Morgan has been writing for PC Gamer since 2018, first as a freelancer and currently as a staff writer. He has also appeared on Polygon, Kotaku, Fanbyte, and PCGamesN. Before freelancing, he spent most of high school and all of college writing at small gaming sites that didn't pay him. He's very happy to have a real job now. Morgan is a beat writer following the latest and greatest shooters and the communities that play them. He also writes general news, reviews, features, the occasional guide, and bad jokes in Slack. Twist his arm, and he'll even write about a boring strategy game. Please don't, though.