Wot I Think: Demolition Inc.

By John Walker on September 19th, 2011 at 5:30 pm.

He's here to kill us all.

German developers Zeroscale arguably aren’t famous for anything yet, although they did bring us Fantastic Football Fan Party and Germany’s Next Top Model. Of perhaps more interest is Demolition Inc., a cute puzzle action game due to appear on Steam this evening. Having demolished many cities from the safety of my UFO I’m entirely qualified to tell you Wot I Think.

One of the most noble uses of gaming technology is unquestionably blowing stuff up. Blowing stuff up in real life is almost always considered bad form, and quite significantly frowned upon. But if we’re all honest, no matter how tragic, how terrible the incident, watching the thing blowing up is cool.

So Demolition Inc. is immediately off to a good start by being about destroying everything with explosions. Everything being buildings, and the explosions mostly provided by cars. However, it rather cunningly avoids the whole terrorism angle by having this mayhem be caused by an intergalactic demo-man, called in to clear away a few Earth cities. Which is still terrorism, I guess. In fact – wait for it – it’s extraterrestorism.

Viewed top-down, although with the option to zoom to street level, Demolition Inc. manages to at once be a very satisfying destruction-based puzzle game, and a frustratingly clumsy trial-and-error-athon. It’s testament to the game’s successes that I’ve found myself wanting to stick with it through the frustrations, although it’s hard to judge how much that is biased by my delight in watching buildings collapse.

(As if anyone’s different. As if there’s anyone who doesn’t love watching those videos of a tower block demolishing, the puffs of smoke around the base as it begins collapsing into itself.)

It most strongly reminded me of a Flashbang Blurst game (hey, remember them?), both in terms of its crude by affable graphics, and its simple core idea proving unendingly interesting.

Here you’re tasked with destroying all the buildings in a small area, in a limited amount of time, with a restricted number of tools to interact with the world. As an alien hovering in a ship, you can’t directly interact, but rather use tokens to interfere with traffic. For instance, you can put down a pool of slime, causing a car’s steering to veer in either direction, perhaps crashing it into the base of a nearby skyscraper and bringing it down on top of itself.

A strange addition is the need to vacuum up the rubble of your urban renewal, done via the right mouse, which clears the city and allows vegetation to grow through. Any debris that lands in the road will cause the traffic to stop and back up until you clear it, and all that’s gathered up significantly adds to your score for the level.

However, where it very strongly deviates from a Blurst-style game comes in realising that there’s a lot more puzzle involved in successfully completing a level. Rather than being asked to reach a minimum score, instead you’re tasked with making sure every building is destroyed, before the army shows up and shoots down your spaceship. And with the limited number of tokens available, it’s likely to be a few goes before you fathom out a technique that will let you.

Perhaps you only have a couple of the tokens that let you take direct control of a vehicle (well, I say control – you can steer them left and right as they accelerate on their own), and one oil cloud to encourage skidding. That’s not going to be enough to take out every building with individual hits. But you may also have (or indeed gain – bringing down marked buildings will score you extra tokens) some farting exploding cows. Naturally. Line them up between the building you’re next going for, and the exploding container at the foot of another nearby, and you can trigger a chain reaction.

It’s in figuring out methods to do this (and by no means the only method – the game always leaves room for you to improvise these routes) that the game surprises, and becomes much more interesting.

However, it’s also here that the game’s clunkiness becomes troubling. There’s a glitchy feel to the whole thing, and oftentimes a building you’ve wedged a car under, which has then blown up its engine shortly after impact, stays upright for no identifiable reason. If that square hit was via your last token with which to interact with the level, then you have to start the level over and try again. When it’s seemingly not your fault, that’s a pain. Especially in a larger level when so much has previously gone your way.

Because luck can play a part too. You never need to rely on it, which is a big tick for the game, but it’s only ever a good thing if a fragment of building clips a barrel near another triggering another demolishing. It’s magnificent, in fact.

Also magnificent are the larger weapons you can unlock in a few of the levels, once a high enough score has been reached. Giant earthquake bombs, or most fun a rolling wrecking ball that gets larger with every building destroyed, make for splendid ways to finish a scene. But again, like the entire game, they too can feel glitchy.

Everything does. Sucking up the rubble never seems to quite work, some objects inexplicably refusing to be beamed up, or getting stuck in a crack in the engine. Controlling a car, while deliberately difficult, sometimes unfairly jerks you left or right. The whole game feels like going for a good walk, but with an itch deep inside your shoe.

The desire to stop and scratch it means you’re never quite enjoying yourself as much as you should be. I think another pass of polish is pretty needed here, and that’s not including the peculiar graphical madness I was experiencing of black lines flickering all over the screen.

But as I said at the start, the itch is not nearly bad enough that I stopped playing. Completing a level is incredibly rewarding, and that’s perfectly reflected by the brilliant idea to have the words “MISSION COMPLETED” fall out of the sky in massive block letters, hitting cars below it, while vans veer into it and explode. Just that makes me forgive it much else.

On top of the campaign you’ve also got a Rampage mode that lets you go back to earlier levels, equipped with every special item you’ve unlocked. And both modes quietly include an online ranking that lets you know how you did with both your score and time for each level against the global leaderboards. The result isn’t an enormous game, but certainly a fun one.

Because blowing stuff up is fun, and especially when you’re a hard-hatted alien called Mike. And sure, people are dying, but hey, they’re rising up to heaven on little cartoon angel wings! So that’s okay too. Demo Inc. is a fun, distracting contribution to the trend for games letting you destroy stuff.

Demolition Inc. is out this evening on Steam.

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67 Comments »

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  1. skinlo says:

    “it’s extraterrestorism.”

    Very happy with that.

    • caddyB says:

      “Extraterrestorism.” Imagine that.

    • Premium User Badge

      dirtyword says:

      I just need to see a few more of these SPAMs before I bite.

    • Droopy The Dog says:

      Hah, foolish notion. While you wait I’m grabbing all the -best- deals, I’m getting a nigerian prince’s crown and 16,000 banana skins for 6 ponds, amazing deal. They also gave me a piece of free software as soon as I visited the site, excellent customer service indeed.

  2. Premium User Badge

    c-Row says:

    Every game trailer should feature flying gasoline trucks.

    • Eclipse says:

      but not a rip-off of a Blur – Song 2 as soundtrack maybe…

    • Mollusc Infestation says:

      It’s quite amusingly obvious though. “Nice to meet you…”

    • Eclipse says:

      lol yeah, it’s like he got so lazy he couldn’t even properly change the lyrics and just scrambled some words

  3. brulleks says:

    Destroy human cities so that vegetation can grow through?

    I’m in, regardless of the hypocrisy of it actually being a computer game. Hypocrisy is almost as much fun as watching things blow up.

    • andyhavens says:

      “Hypocrisy is almost as much fun as watching things blow up.”

      Kudos. for that. You win the Internet for today.

  4. Inigo says:

    An intergalactic demo-man.
    Who may possibly be part of a Corps.
    That Blasts things.

    • Premium User Badge

      AmateurScience says:

      I am now resolved to dig out the N64 and blow some stuff up whilst listening to strange electro-line dancing music.

      Edit: Damn you Backlash, damn you all the way to Hades.

    • Lewie Procter says:

      I had the same thought.

    • Premium User Badge

      AndrewC says:

      I think Blast Corps is one of those games that gets A Little Bit Too Much Love.

      Is this game not like one of the 3D Rampage sequels? Or that console fighting game that involved all the Godzilla-like monsters? Or like Flock!, where you control a UFO? Or Earth Defence Force? Or Sim City? Or Micro Machines!

      But no! Blast Corps! A big badge for those who remember Blast Corps! Blast Corps invented explosions! Blast Corps brought down the Berlin Wall! Blast Corps got my mum pregnant with me!

      Blast Corps! Blast Corps! Blast Corps! PAH! A fie on your stupid Blast Corps! It wasn’t THAT good!

      I may have some…painful memories about trying to get some of the gold medals in Blast Corps.

    • Heliocentric says:

      You didn’t need those gold medals, they weren’t for you if you struggled to get them.

    • Bostec says:

      I didn’t deal in gold, I had Platinum.

    • noom says:

      Blast Corps was certainly not over-rated. One of my favourite N64 games that.

      Except that one level with the huge rows of houses or whatnot and the slidey dump-truck thing. I’m still getting rage-twitches over that.

    • ChiefOfBeef says:

      Why is it I remember Blast Corps looking way better than this though?

    • westyfield says:

      “Why is it I remember Blast Corps looking way better than this though?”

      You may well have answered that one yourself.

    • Squirrelfanatic says:

      Blast Corps gave me fevered dreams of racing through buildings with a Bulldozer always knowing that I DO NOT HAVE ENOUGH TIME!!

  5. Premium User Badge

    AmateurScience says:

    The pics remind me a lot of a rather obscure N64 game called BlastCorps which I played to death back in the day.

    As a result of this possibly completely erroneous association I intend to pick this up toute de suite!

  6. Fullforce says:

    £7.99 and no demo? That’s a little too much for this poor commenter here.

    • Dozer says:

      Pish tosh. That’s only the price of twenty or so first-class stamps.

    • Nallen says:

      Less than 2 pints in the South!

    • MrXswift says:

      looks fun to play for maybe 20 min… i think this is overpriced for a minigame.
      -The demolitions look repeditiv, there are better demolition flashgames.

  7. mandrill says:

    Edit: commented on wrong post

  8. Heliocentric says:

    Blast Corps is the king of blowing up buildings games.

  9. Eclipse says:

    aaaaand seems like their musician really loves Song 2 by Blur…

  10. Drake Sigar says:

    Continuity error – there are no cows in that universe!

    Wait. This has nothing to do with Demolition Man, does it?

  11. Juan Carlo says:

    “But if we’re all honest, no matter how tragic, how terrible the incident, watching the thing blowing up is cool.”

    Yeah.

    I lost my aunt in 9/11. At her funeral I looked to her children who were now faced with the prospect of life without a mother and said to them, “Kids. It’s definitely sad and tragic that your mother is gone. But if you are honest with yourselves you’d have to admit that seeing those planes smash into those buildings was totally cool to watch.”

    When they just kept crying I scolded them for not being honest with themselves, as clearly they weren’t.

    • Mollusc Infestation says:

      It’s incredibly hard to contradict you without sounding like an arsehole. So i won’t.

    • Vinraith says:

      Right, because that’s totally what he meant.

    • shitflap says:

      Take your self-serving dickishness elsewhere please

    • Frankie The Patrician[PF] says:

      brool story, co

    • Juan Carlo says:

      We’ll, I won’t claim that he was specifically referencing 9/11, but he was stating a general rule: despite how tragic an explosion might be, if we are honest we would all admit that they are still pretty cool to watch. And this, as a general rule, undoubtedly includes 9/11 (which had both explosions and buildings imploding in on themselves, so minus the tragedy, it should really be the most “cool” thing to watch ever according to his general rule). So don’t get mad at me. I was simply making manifest what was latent within in the sentence from the start.

      Anyhow, I’d explain in greater detail, but my orphaned cousins are hungry and I must start supper for them. Ever since their mother died in a tragic (yet totally awesome looking) explosion on 9/11 it has fallen at my feet to take care of them. So I ask you mr shitflap, does this sound like something a “self-serving dick” (as you so callously labeled me) would do? Would a self serving dick adopt his cousins after their mother died in a tragic (yet totally awesome!) explosion on 9/11? I think not! To the contrary, that sounds more like something that a person who is the EXACT OPPOSITE of a self-serving dick would do: a person who is, perhaps, an altruistic vagina. Which is, in fact, how most people would describe me–as an altruistic vagina.

      So good day to you, sirs.

      Good day, I say!

    • Berzee says:

      Juan Carlo, if your original post was literal and serious, I would agree with it happily, allowing for time and space to bring the perspective necessary to admit the coolness of the explosion. You were very mean to your cousins for not allowing them that time and space. What’s wrong with you?

    • Mollusc Infestation says:

      Ok, people dying = not cool.
      The mechanics of a building suffering erectile dysfunction = cool.
      Nobody would doubt that the first statement is true. The second is a matter of opinion, but y’know, hyperbole is a thing. Furthermore, nobody is suggesting that people should die in order to facilitate anyone’s desire to watch falling buildings.

    • shitflap says:

      Many people have died and had their lives affected through acts of terrorism, not solely on Sept 11th.

      I myself grew up in a country where terrorism was commonplace and I, and almost everyone I know, have lost dear friends, and family members to the cycle of violence and to the fear and the hatred that it breeds.

      This cycle of death was described as a good, just and valiant struggle by some, and was funded by sympathisers of various nations, many of which lived in your country and wanted to feel like they were giving something back to the “motherland” by donating money and guns to the struggle, when in fact all that achieved was to sentence men, women and children to horrible, unjustifiable, senseless deaths and the survivors to lives of hatred, paranoia and suspicion.

      Self-serving complaints of “You can’t say that, not anymore, not in this day in age since 9/11, not now I’ve been personally affected by terrorism, obviously that’s an outrage as it applies to my specific situation”, belie the fact that millions are affected by terrorism every day and it’s aftereffects all over the world, and were causing misery long before your country had your “awakening” to the horrors of life.

      Seeing people jump all over innocent comments, unintended to offend or irritate, makes me furious.

      But I’m sure, paragon of virtue that you are, you spend time every day shedding a tear for the thousands of dead Irish who ~also~ died in the terrorist acts carried out over thirty odd years, as well as all other atrocities being carried out in the world, and for all those who’s lives have been affected by violence, that’s why you are now our self-appointed moral compass and guardian, right?

      (ED: If you have family members who were involved in 9/11 and weren’t just trolling me, don’t mistake my rant on this as my lacking in sympathy, I do feel for anyone who’s life has been affected by terrorism, and if true, I ~do~ know what you go through)

      (ED2: Of course!, I just fed a fucking troll. Typical. I’m a fucking idiot)

    • Berzee says:

      “Blood makes poor mortar.”

    • Raiyan 1.0 says:

      Yeah, it was a terrible tragedy, but how long has it been? A decade? Get over it.

      You see no one throwing up a hissy fit every time a military FPS set in the Middle East is released. Those games are cashing in on an event that has killed way more people than 9/11 and continues to this day.

    • Juan Carlo says:

      @Mollusc Infestation

      Well, I agree that no one is suggesting that people should die in explosions so that people can see the coolness of the explosion itself. That’s just inhuman and completely and utterly beyond the pale.

      But, on the other hand, if it was going to happen anyway, is it so wrong to take what enjoyment from the situation that you can get? Let’s say, for example, you were watching the events of 9/11 on TV from another country and thus had no way of intervening. No doubt a certain part of you was horrified at the terrible and utterly pointless human tragedy taking place. What Mr Walker’s maxim about the tragedy and coolness of explosions is suggesting is that while this was going on, if you are truly honest with yourself, there might have been another part of you which was saying “Yes, this is awful and I totally feel the utmost sympathy for the victims, but bloody hell was that an awesome explosion! And did you guys see the part when the buildings just collapsed? That was really cool looking! I don’t think I’ll ever see anything this tragic, yet also at the same time utterly awesome looking, in my life again!”

      Or that’s what I try to tell my cousins anyway when they awake in the middle of the night crying for their mother (who, by the way, was killed in the 9/11 attacks–did I mention that? Sometimes I forget). To make them feel better I say: “Yes, your mother died and you will never see her again, but look on the bright side! While her life may have been instantly snuffed out in an unholy hail of fire, shrapnel, and smoke, she did not die in vain! For the explosion which killed her was so utterly cool looking that it provided the entire world with something cool to look at for a bit. And really, that’s all that matters in the end, isn’t it?”

      Of course, usually this is no comfort to them and they just keep on crying, but again I suspect this is only because they are naughty deceitful children who refuse to be honest with themselves.

    • Berzee says:

      Yeah, explosions are pretty cool.

    • Berzee says:

      I just noticed that Juan Carlo has recommended games such as Warband and Total War on the forums. I guess he just thinks war is a pretty cool thing to make a game about.

      Maybe he is not aware that some people have been killed in wars?

      Or maybe what he likes even better than explosions is HYPOCRISY.

      Edit: basically I am just making small talk because Vinraith already took care of the important business.

    • Raiyan 1.0 says:

      Also, the whole obviously fake cousin gimmick?

      Making a mockery out of 9/11 victims, are we?

    • Berzee says:

      IDENTITY THEFT IS NOT A JOKE RAIYAN.

    • Jazz42 says:

      cool guys don’t look at explosions, they blow shit up and walk away

    • Mollusc Infestation says:

      This discussion is officially past the point where anyone can really take it seriously. John Walker used a literary device for comic effect. Juan Carlo didn’t think it was funny. The end.

    • Berzee says:

      Pff, you and your wholesome well-balanced maturity.

    • Mollusc Infestation says:

      I know you are, but what am I?

    • Text_Fish says:

      Whilst we’re contorting other peoples’ thoughts to suit our own personal and drastically irellevant causes, I’d like to complain about those RACIST CHESS PLAYERS DEMANDING THAT WHITES GO FIRST. IT’S A FUCKING TRAVESTY AND I’M ENTITLED TO RANT ABOUT IT BECAUSE I KNOW A BLACK GUY. SHAME ON YOU VASILLY IVANCHUK. IVANNACHUK A CAN OF WHOOPASS YOUR WAY FOR INSULTING MY BLACK FRIEND.

      Actually, he’s more of an aquaintance.

      Actually I just stand near him sometimes to look liberal.

      Actually, he doesn’t exist.

      My point still stands though.

      Or does it?

  12. Danny says:

    This gives me a distinct whiff of Vogon.

  13. Lazaruso says:

    Way to make anyone who likes this feel extremely guilty.

  14. Premium User Badge

    BathroomCitizen says:

    Rrrraaarrr

    Spam bots have become bolder

  15. Mr. Icarus says:

    Just watch. Soon Spam-bot will actually bust into your house, Sex you whether you want it or not, then step aside so that pimp-bot can demand payment.

  16. JuJuCam says:

    I’m beginning to think they’re not even bots anymore, they’re actually quite diligent copy-pasters

  17. LostViking says:

    I prefer the spam-bots that take a completely random text, and inserts a bunch of links in between words that has nothing to do with the text itself.

    How retarded do you have to be to click on those links?

  18. SquareWheel says:

    I am also commenting about Blast Corps.

  19. Toolbox says:

    But it’s free shipping…

  20. Mollusc Infestation says:

    You mean free shippin in?