Developer: Media Molecule
Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment Europe
Release Date: November 22nd, 2013
Available on: Playstation Vita
Media Molecule’s first games, the LittleBigPlanet series, proved to be one of the most creative things to hit the Playstation. With its tagline of Play Create Share you would think that Media Molecule would be excited to continue that. Instead they decided to make the 3D platformer Tearaway, a beautiful papercraft game that utilizes every single possible thing there is to utilize about the Vita. Well I’m happy to say they struck gold again.
Tearaway places you in the role of either Iota or Atoi, an enveloped-headed messenger who wants to deliver a message to the Yous. The Yous are, appropriately, you. I mean that literally too: the forward facing camera on the Vita is always on and your face will be staring back at the messenger for the entire game. A little weird at first, but it works with the story perfectly. The Yous reside in the sun and the messenger begins their quest to get there. It’s a sweet little feel-good story that doesn’t go deep into any kind of heavy topics, and this is for the best. The banter between the two narrators as they attempt to pull the story in the directions they want is humorous and their great voice acting lends to the overall charm. I can safely say that Tearaway is pleasing here and will easily draw you into its papercraft world.
Tearaway’s gameplay is closest to a 3D platformer, though it’s not difficult and it doesn’t focus too heavily on the platforming elements. It’s probably closer to say it’s an adventure game, but it’s not quite that either. At the beginning of the game the messenger can only move around and little else. He can’t even jump yet, you won’t get that until later. You’ll have to use your ability to manipulate the environment to assist the messenger at first. Most of it comes from being able to poke your finger through the world by using the back touch pad. It only works in specific areas, but it’s how you spend the early game getting around. Later levels have you using the touch screen to move things around, tilting the Vita to adjust platforms, and other uses of the Vita’s capabilities. Eventually the messenger gets their own set of abilities. Early on it’s just jumping and throwing stuff, but later they can turn into a ball to roll around the environment or suck up and shoot objects from a distance.
It’s not all platforming though, as there is some combat to be had. Combat is kept very simple in the game, though it does evolve over time. Early on the messenger can’t fight and you have to poke your fingers through the touch pad to save them. As you progress in the game your messenger can pick up and throw enemies to defeat them, and sometimes there will be traps on the field that you can activate by tapping them. The enemies, called Scraps, only come in a few types that don’t really change up the combat in any major way. The only real game changer comes from one that requires you to jump on his head, followed by tapping it while it’s dizzy. It’s silly and fits with the game’s tone, never getting too difficult and always remaining fun
Besides platforming and combat there’s more to the game. It’s not LittleBigPlanet, but you’ll be having a massive effect on Tearaway’s world still. Sometimes creatures will ask you to take pictures, and the pictures you take becomes their new textures. I couldn’t help but find some delight in finding a squirrel covered in my keyboard. Others may ask you to to draw and cut out shapes. Early in the game I had to make a crown, while later I was asked to make a tie. The things you make will always be showing up around the world of Tearaway in creative ways, making it feel like you have an actual impact on it. If Tearaway has an impact on you and you want to bring it into your world? Good news. Finding the collectables allows you to get instructions on how to make the papercraft denizens of Tearaway, allowing the creatively inclined to bring a little Tearaway into their life. It’s a great bonus that lets you get even more out of the game.
Tearaway is a great title. It’s creative, charming, fun, and beautiful. Between the papercraft world and the creative gameplay there’s a lot to enjoy here, and anyone who owns a Playstation Vita should really do themselves a favor and check out this game.