I have always been a huge fan of the worlds and games created by Media Molecule and it pains me to admit that I have never had the privilege of playing Tearaway on the PS Vita. Although I never quite understood what the link between Little Big Planet’s world building mechanic and Tearaway was, I quickly realized that the creative DNA running through one runs through the other.
Tearaway is a really unique game with a truly unique story. I was impressed by its world when I first got a glimpse of it on the PS Vita, however, the game looks even better on a bigger screen at a higher resolution. The whole world and each unique environment is lovingly crafted from paper. It really feels like you are playing in the pages of a storybook. I found myself stopping every now and then trying to figure out how the paper could be crafted into certain objects. The amount of detail that is present in the world is astounding, and I felt like a kid again as the charming tale and world slowly drew me into it.
A hole has been torn in the sky effectively joining our world with the world of Tearaway. The story puts you in control of a paper character called Iota or Atoi depending on which gender you choose. Iota/ Atoi are called messengers and their duty is to deliver a message to you, yes you the player. This is where you begin to realize that Tearaway’s story is something special. Not only does the game weave a unique tale, but it puts you, the player at the center of it. You have the ability to affect the messenger’s world (thanks to the hole in the sky) by using the Dualshock controller. From the touchpad to the light bar no part of the Dualshock was left out, and each part is used innovatively. Not only is the Dualshock used in a creative manner, but Media Molecule has also been able to finally find a use for my PlayStation eye (which has been collecting dust since the PS4’s release). The PS eye enables you to project your image onto the dimensional hole, making you an ever present feature of the skyline. The game literally makes you part of it.
Media Molecule has been very smart in how they implemented the Dualshock and its features into the game. The light bar is used to light up dark areas, return colour to objects that have been turned into dull newspaper, and even stun enemies making them easier to dispatch. Certain instances will require that Iota throw objects at you which you catch inside your Dualshock. These objects can then be shot out of the Dualshock when the need arises.
This mechanic is not only used for hurling objects at your enemies, but also in solving a few puzzles. While inside the Dualshock these items can be felt rolling around and even making cute noises through the Dualshock speaker
The same amount of creativity was put into the use of the touchpad, as you are able to change wind direction when swiping your finger on it and pressing it makes drums that are scattered throughout the world bounce Iota to otherwise unreachable areas. The most innovative use of the touchpad though is for drawing and crafting. While exploring the world of Tearaway Iota meets a range of strange and interesting characters. Most of these require your help in some form or other. Usually, this will result in you drawing some sort of object using the touchpad (for instance a crown for the squirrel king). Now I was truly impressed with how accurate the touchpad is that said, it is tiny and makes drawing your work of art a real chore. That is why I would highly recommend downloading the PlayStation app which enables you to use your tablet as a second screen. It is really worth investing a bit of time in getting your paper craft creations just right, as it pays off in the long run and adds a lot to the world. Nothing quite beats the feeling of seeing your one-of-a-kind artwork used as a game asset.
This level of customization is also present when it comes to Iota. All through the game players collect confetti, which they can use to buy eyes, mouths, noses and even shapes with which to customize his look.
During the story, players are given access to a camera in order to take pictures of the game world, as well as to restore colour to areas of the world that have been turned white. Players are able to purchase different filters for the camera (including a GIF filter) by using the confetti they collected.
One aspect of games that I sometimes forget to mention or even take notice of is the sound design. This has not been the case with Tearaway as I found the sound design some of the best that I have heard in a game. Every sound, noise and piece of music helps shape the world of Tearaway.
I did have a few problems with the game. During my time playing Tearaway, I noticed that some of the fixed camera angles tended to obscure my view (especially during some platforming sections). Even when I was in full control of the camera I found myself (at certain moments) fighting to position the camera where I needed it. This caused some unnecessary deaths. Another problematic part of the game was the pacing. There were moments where I was slowly plodding around an environment with little to do or little happening around me. Although these moments were few and far apart I did find them pulling me out of the experience.
I wouldn’t call Tearaway Unfolded a direct port as the game not only offers some new unique mechanics; it also adds some new areas to explore and even expands on the original’s story.
Tearaway Unfolded, does justice to the Vita version in not only the way that the game looks on new-gen consoles, but also in the creative and innovative way in which the Dualshock and PS eye is incorporated into the gameplay. Sure it does have its faults, but those are far outweighed by the charm the game exudes. As with Little Big Planet, Tearaway is bursting with creativity and encourages you to tap into your own. Everything from the whimsical story to the beautiful sound design serves one purpose, and that is to draw you into its world. It is easy to find yourself getting lost in this one of a kind story and universe that Media Molecule has so successfully created.