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Thirty minutes into Demolish & Build Company 2017, I managed to bulldoze a small building that had been threatening to collapse, knock over a series of fences, and cut a bunch of rusted pipes. I had just managed to finish enough contracts to purchase a personal jackhammer. This machine, when attached to some of the small vehicles I already owned, was capable of breaking through reinforced concrete. Finally, a way to remove the pesky roadblocks that would appear on some of the maps without having to summon a bulldozer! The small pieces of wire-reinforced concrete would stick up from the ground in some areas, threatening damage to my expensive equipment, and until now, the only way to remove it was to run it over with the imposing blades of a bulldozer. I came across one, got out my jackhammer, and beat away at the clump. After a few seconds, I readjusted my aim, thinking I had to hit the base, or possibly move it around a little for maximum effect. When I finally decided it wasn’t going to work, I came to a stunning realization. I’m playing a puzzle game.

Demolish & Build Company 2017 is a new construction and demolition “simulator”. You start with a sledgehammer and your bare fists, cleaning up construction sites and then knocking down internal walls without regard to safety. Eventually, you buy small machines to help out: abrasive saws, jackhammers, bulldozers and skid loaders. You can change the attachments on these vehicles to fulfill certain jobs, such as a giant jackhammer attached to a skid loader in order to knock down harder walls.

You can activate your "worker sense" to see important things through walls. If you don't have this ability, I'm sorry. You're not cut out for construction.

You can activate your “worker sense” to see important things through walls. If you don’t have this ability, I’m sorry. You’re not cut out for construction.

You’re given contracts that slowly increase in difficulty, and it’s interesting to revisit a previous site to find some new piece you have to take apart with your fancy new equipment. For example, you might visit a site the first time to clean it up and remove dangerous materials. Later on, you might come back to destroy an old wall. Eventually, you knock down the main building, and then use your giant crawling crane to take down the smokestacks. You’ll be able to look over sites you’ve visited and say to yourself “yes, this flattened and charred ground used to have a building. No more!”

But after some experimentation, you might realize that it’s not so simple as different gradients of materials you must knock over using your vast array of tools. No, this more closely resembles a classic RPG. You get a new gadget or weapon and enter a dungeon where every puzzle inside is dedicated to that gadget. If you want to destroy a wall, you must use the exact tool required by the contract, and there’s no way around it. Want to use your skid loader jackhammer instead of the extremely difficult-to-use excavator jackhammer? Sorry, you’re out of luck. Maybe these are union regulations inside the world of Demolish & Build Company 2017 keeping you from freely choosing your demolishing tools.

Construction worker by day, magician by night. Watch me make this gravel disappear! By... running it... over.

Construction worker by day, magician by night. Watch me make this gravel disappear!

Unless you count the ability to switch through limited radio stations to hear all five available songs and then angrily turn the music off, there are no actual simulation elements here. You are given the ability to manage workers with varying skill levels, but there’s just one skill: construction ability. It’s measured on a scale of 1-5, and it never changes due to training or extending your portfolio of workers. You always have a person with a skill level of 1 who can literally only take out the trash in one of your lots. Of course, this is the point of a foreman, delegating the smaller, mind-numbingly tedious jobs to people less qualified than you. This leaves you free to deal with merely frustratingly tedious jobs. It’s a full step above mind-numbing, and it’s the payoff for what I can only imagine was the years of trade school required to refine your X-ray capable “worker senses”.

"But the mustard gas research facility on the other side, that's- yeah that's fine."

“But the mustard gas research facility on the other side, that’s- yeah that’s fine.”

The story is practically nonexistent, which is standard for a simulation game. You have a personal advisor who keeps track of how much debt the company is in, and you’re in charge of everything. However, your personal advisor is also a construction worker. In fact, it seems that everyone you meet is a laborer. It’s either that or the people who work on the business and accounting side of your company are all required to wear hard hats when they call you. Every step of your journey is planned, and you spend most of it wondering if you’re still trapped in the tutorial. You can stray from the path set before you only slightly, enough to purchase a property and do the exact same thing you’ve already done a hundred other times. Or you could wander off to the store and buy the one piece of equipment that isn’t specifically dedicated to a quest line: a welder you can use to repair vehicles more quickly.

Yes, your vehicles can be damaged. If the body is damaged, you can repair it with a wrench by standing next to it and smacking it like you learned construction from playing Team Fortress 2. Although, for some odd reason, you must pay to have treads or wheels replaced when they’re damaged as opposed to using your magic wand. You must also refill your vehicles with fuel every once in a while to remind you that Demolish & Build Company 2017 put forth a slight effort into trying to have depth.

Demolish & Build Company 2017 never opens up, and it suddenly ends without real warning. The last gift you’re granted is the ability to buy explosives, except once you get them, the game is over. You can still pick up random contracts that are just repeats of previous ones you’ve done, but there is nothing pushing the player forward, and therefore no point to playing. You might be like me, though, and utterly unwilling to give up entirely on a game. Like me, you will be disappointed as you place five enormous bricks of C4 only to watch them pop with the force of a small dog’s bark. The screen doesn’t even shake to try and give you the illusion of godlike power.

This is literally the only time you dig up sand. For this I am thankful.

This is literally the only time you dig up sand. For this I am thankful.

Anyone who’s played a simulator knows that there is a learning period where your hand is held while you stumble through the basics of how you’ll be improving yourself or your materials over time. After that, you’re suddenly set free in a majestic open world where you can choose how to build your new empire, town, or company. Demolish & Build Company 2017 lets go of your hand long enough to do a shot of whiskey and then returns to loom over you again. For each contract you take, there are pictograms telling you which materials will be needed for the job. You will use those tools for very specific purposes, and you cannot improvise or use what skills you have to try something new. Specific walls must use a specific attachment on a specific vehicle. Fragile pipes must be cut using excavator shears, don’t you dare try and use anything else. Straying from the path results in… well at least the game doesn’t punish you. Instead, nothing at all happens.

Near the end of Demolish & Build Company 2017, I was clearing some old walls from the roof of a skyscraper. I finished the job and stood near the edge of the building, trying to overlook the town my character had presumably spent his life in working this tedious occupation. My character’s eyes must have been awful, because I could only see a few yards ahead of me before the roads and buildings disappeared. Checking my options, I saw all my graphic options were at full. I didn’t know how much longer this game might be, how much longer I might be forced to try and operate the horribly designed vehicles that will never upgrade in ability or capacity for as long as I work. The NPC vehicles sparsely inhabited the ground far below me, all only capable of going forward, accidentally creating massive traffic jams in their attempt to go nowhere as horribly as possible. I jumped.

The long fall was one of the most exciting moments I had in the game, and when I hit the bottom, I expected to be respawned somewhere else so I could continue. Instead, I was absolutely fine, standing there with my sledgehammer thrust forward in defiance of God and Man. It was here I understood that I was not playing Demolish & Build Company 2017. This was me experiencing the life of a man trapped in eternal, suffering limbo.

Demolish & Build Company 2017 was reviewed on PC via Steam with a copy provided by the publisher.

2.0
 

Terrible

Summary

If you enjoy tedious, limited 3D puzzle games masquerading as a simulation, this is the game for you. If you're anyone else on earth, just get a job working in actual construction and get paid.

Pros

  • No Fall Damage
  • Saved Kindergardeners from a Fireworks Factory

Cons

  • Poor Destruction Mechanics
  • Building Mechanics Have No Freedom
  • Actually a Puzzle Game
  • Vehicle Operation is Painful

Alec Blouin

Staff Writer

When not playing video games, Alec is enjoying tabletop RPGs, landscaping, writing bad fiction, 80's music, and knocking over your trash bins. Do not feed him after midnight.