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Demolish & Build Review

Demolish and Build

Demolish & Build is a complicated game on almost every level. Multiple stores list the game as Buy, Demolish & Build, while the game you actually download is very much named Demolish & Build.

This is just one example of the sort of discrepancy that there seems to be between what the developers built this game to be, and what it actually is.

That isn’t to say that Demolish & Build is a bad game, but we’ll get into that shortly. What is clear though, is that this game was built from a vision that far outstretched the budget assigned to it.

There’s a lot here for someone who can enjoy the content despite the flaws, but for those who are sticklers for immersion, you better look away now.

Demolish & Build
Developer: Ultimate Games
Publisher: Ultimate Games

Platforms: Nintendo Switch, Xbox One (Reviewed), 
Release Date: January 15, 2020 (Nintendo Switch), July 3 (Xbox One)
Players: 1
Price: $19.99

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You start out as you mean to go on with Demolish & Build. You’re tasked with destroying a few objects in a casino so that it can be refitted. However, it turns out that your boss told you to destroy something rather valuable, and now you’ve lost your job.

Always the practical type, you start up your own company, and take on odd demolition and building jobs around the town to keep yourself fed and housed.

The game opens up pretty much immediately. There are some tutorials that walk you through the process of getting and completing jobs, buying new equipment, and how to invest in local properties, but for the most part you’re left to your own devices.

Early on you’ll buy a bulldozer and get to work on the much meatier projects, though you will need to destroy a couple of garage bathrooms first. Soon the money will be pouring in, and you’ll be able to purchase run down lots and put them to work earning you cash.

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The most basic of these lots are car parks, which bring in a tiny amount of cash per month, but will keep your cashflow healthy while you figure out how to play the rest of the game. If you’re feeling generous, you can hire someone to be available to fix up your properties at a moment’s notice. Be warned though, once your cash is down, you’ll need to work hard to build it back up.

Now I know what you’re thinking, “this game looks crap,” and I agree. There is nothing pretty about Demolish & Build. The town feels like an asset dump from another building game that got canned, and every NPC is a basic model that seems to have dead eyes and the inability to breathe.

Furthermore, the environments are shockingly dull. The town is meant to be somewhere in Nevada, but everything just looks like it has been covered in a fine layer of sand. There’s a huge section in the middle of the game’s world that’s pure rocks and loneliness. I know, because I actually defied gravity and drove through it.

While the environment might look horrible, and that does extend to the buildings, the actual gameplay elements of each area work really well. If rocks fall onto the road, you can destroy them with some very satisfying machinery action. Smashing tiles and toilets has also never been this much fun, and I genuinely found myself eager to play more because I was enjoying the gameplay that much.

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This is where the best part of Demolish & Build lies. Yes, you can drive around and smash into cars with no AI, but what you should really be doing is driving into buildings to break down their walls. There are few things more cathartic than smashing a bulldozer through an entire saloon, and this game lets you do just that. Plus, there’s a UFO on the saloon.

The game also has a layer of business management to it that I feel is massively underused. You can purchase lots and turn them into businesses, as I mentioned earlier. You can then pick up gold or scrap from those businesses, and go on to sell it. If you wanted to, you wouldn’t need to take on more building work, but the game doesn’t really send you down that path.

Instead players are pushed down the path of being a contractor forever, never getting off that first rung of the corporate ladder. There’s a nice mechanic that shows you how much your business is worth over time, but it again feels pointless given the direction of the gameplay.

The thing that I would say is the greatest draw of Demolish & Build is the comedy. The game is extremely rough, and it shows. I’ve already told you how bad the AI is, but there are so many moments that made me laugh out loud because of how awful the game is.

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You can get vehicles stuck inside a building, have a hosepipe blasting water into traffic, and even push caravans off a cliff. There’s a lot of fun to be had in the game; as long as you’re willing to laugh at it and not feel like you’ve wasted your money.

As I said at the start , Demolish & Build is a game of discrepancies. For every good feature, there are a few bad ones. The sound design, for example, is the worst I’ve ever encountered. The sounds for hitting objects don’t vary, and it gets old very fast. I found myself putting music on and turning the game down just so I didn’t go crazy.

This extends to the terrible royalty free rock music you hear whenever you’re in a vehicle. Just play with some music in the background, a podcast, or literally anything else, and you’ll have a good time.

One brilliant mechanic to balance this out is the Worker Sense. It’s the exact same ability as Eagle Vision from the Assassin’s Creed universe, but it allows you to see the objects you need to destroy in the current job. It makes you feel like you’re playing a very specific kind of hero, and it’s actually really great.

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I also want to add that using explosives to blow up buildings is the best fun you can have in the game. Only some contracts allow you to use them, but when they do, it’s the best time you can have while playing. These contracts alone are worth playing for.

It is possible to build structures in the game, but it feels like too much of a chore to be worth it. The meat of the game is in destroying things, and I think that’s where most people will find the fun. The building mechanics are just too complex for the controls to ever make feel smooth or enjoyable.

There’s also a weird mechanic that makes you fill up every vehicle with fuel at gas stations. You can fast travel to these gas stations, and spawn all the vehicles there as well, but that’s as far as the system goes. It feels like there was a larger plan for this feature, but as it is it just looks and feels stupid.

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I can’t in good conscience say that you should buy this game. Overall it’s a really terrible package that does little to win you over. On the other hand, if you see it discounted, whether that’s preowned or on sale, then I suggest you get it.

This is a great game to cleanse your palette between fantastic releases that keep coming out. It’s just what you need to help you appreciate what good games are, and it’s a little bit of fun to distract you at the same time.

This game won’t win any awards, and it’s almost certainly a cash grab, but it’s worth a go if you’re bored and feel like playing something dreadful.

Demolish & Build was reviewed on Xbox One using a review copy provided by Ultimate Games. You can find additional information about Niche Gamer’s review/ethics policy here.

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The Verdict: 4

The Good

  • Blowing up buildings is fun
  • Driving through buildings is great when you can't get whiplash
  • Worker Sense makes you feel like a bathroom-fitting assassin

The Bad

  • Awful sound design
  • Uninspiring world
  • Underutilised management system
  • Gas stations are essential and pointless
  • The NPCs may as well not exist
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