One of the highlights of my gamescom trip was attending a preview session for Media Molecule’s upcoming PS Vita adventure Tearaway. The session was hosted by Rex Crowle who is serving as lead designer on the project, and the game was reportedly inspired by doodles he left lying around Media Molecule’s office.
Based in the UK, the studio is one of Sony Computer Entertainment’s most renowned and creative first-party developers, having worked on LittleBigPlanet and LBP2 for which they scooped numerous awards including Best Debut Game and Best New Studio. Naturally expectations are high that Tearaway will be another success story for Sony and Media Molecule, and based on what I’ve seen of the game audiences are going to fall in love with this exceedingly tactile and ingenious title inspired by the fascinating world of papercraft.
Rex began the session by outlining the basic premise of Tearaway. The game takes place in a papercraft world which has a tear in it – inviting in dangerous creatures which threaten its peaceful inhabitants. You take control of a messenger called Iota or Atoi depending on whether you want to play as a male or female, and this individual’s goal is to deliver a message to you, the player.
Rex played through the first region of the game called Valley Fold where your mission is to scare away a murder of crows who are blocking your path out of the area. To do this you need to find and then customise a pumpkin to make it frightening enough, and you can even record a chilling vocal sample to turn the pumpkin into an agent of terror!
In Tearaway each player has an online profile which allows one to unlock printable papercraft parts by completing certain objectives in the game, and you can also obtain new designs by taking in-game photos of certain objects. This will undoubtedly encourage some players to delve into the art of papercraft, and just like LittleBigPlanet provide them with the basis to formulate their own creations.
During Rex’s playthrough we were introduced to a variety of enemies collectively referred to as Scraps. Media Molecule has crafted some incredibly creative enemies to inhabit Tearaway’s world, including ones which walk on stilts and spit paper balls at you! Every character and enemy in the game can be recreated in the real world using papercraft materials and techniques so this lends each one a charming design aesthetic which feels entirely fresh and unique.
Tearaway’s game engine is designed to stream its large, open world so you’ll never have to stare at a loading screen or be momentarily pulled out of its seamlessly connected environments.
I mentioned before that Tearaway is an impressively tactile experience and this stems from how Media Molecule has interpreted the PS Vita’s control capabilities. Whether you’re using the handheld’s back touchpad to raise and lower an elevator by rotating your finger, or taking a photo of real-world textures to apply to blank papercraft models in the game, Tearaway makes full use of the PS Vita’s wide range of inputs to create an experience unlike anything I’ve yet seen on the platform.
During the question and answer session which followed Rex’s presentation, I asked him if Tearaway will utilise the PS Vita’s tilt function since I didn’t see any instances of it crop up during the playthrough we were shown. He replied that later in the game the world becomes more distorted and the player will become even more involved in determining its physical nature. For example, at this stage you’ll be able to affect objects in the game by tilting the handheld. The impression I got from his response was that puzzle platforming will play an increasingly important role in Tearaway as the game progresses.
Based on what I saw of Tearaway during Rex’s presentation, the game is bursting with creativity and beautiful art design while also featuring innovative gameplay mechanics which utilise the PS Vita’s control inputs in wonderfully unique ways. Tearaway looks like the kind of game which will delight children and adults in equal measures thanks to its vibrant world and emphasis on player interaction, and Media Molecule should be commended for creating a brand new IP for PS Vita rather than just another LittleBigPlanet game.
Tearway will be released exclusively for PS Vita on November 22nd worldwide. Head over here for El33tonline’s previous coverage of this charming adventure game, which includes Peter’s hands-on preview from E3 2013.