It’s a good time for games about breaking things. There’s the great voxel city smasher Teardown, the medieval demolition simulator Besiege, spaceship salvager Hardspace: Shipbreaker, and now here’s Abriss, a cool $17 “physics-destruction building game” I tried out after it exited early access on Steam last week.
Abriss is a lot like Besiege: You have a building zone and a target to destroy, but rather than a castle your target is an abstract steel and concrete structure which harbors glowing red orbs you have to smash to pass the level. Its look reminds me a little of pixel art mech game Brigador, and the destruction is just as satisfying as spawning 10,000 milk cartons in Starfield.
At first, you demolish targets by building lopsided towers with components like “ultraheavy cubes” and then running the physics simulation and watching them topple into the target structure. Quickly, though, Abriss gives you tools like spinners and thrusters that can be activated at will during the simulation.
I’m a fan of this ‘build a contraption and then see what it does’ genre, which goes back to stuff like The Incredible Machine from the ’90s. There’s a great escalating tension as you stack and fasten objects to each other, wondering if they’re going to do what you hope they’re going to do when you turn on the simulation. When my Abriss contraption works perfectly and demolishes the entire target in one turn, it’s satisfying in the same way as a perfect, streakless squeegee stroke on a windshield. But it can also be great when it doesn’t work in some spectacularly pathetic way, like when I forgot to fasten my device to the floor in a zero-G level and it twirled about in space harmlessly:
Abriss features seven stages with seven or more levels in each. I’m only in the second stage, and I’m already building trebuchets to launch remote control bombs across the level, so I imagine things get pretty complex. It hasn’t been super difficult so far, though, lying a little closer to the chill enjoyment I get from a puzzle game like Yankai’s Triangle than the head-scratching of a Zachtronics game like Opus Magnum. There are also Endless and Sandbox modes for more free-form destruction.
With the caveat that I’ve only played that handful of levels, Abriss gets a thumbs up from me so far. It’s got a few hundred user reviews on Steam that average to “Very Positive,” though a lot of them are from its early access run—it just went into full release on September 5.