Tearaway is a brand new intellectual property for PS Vita from LittleBigPlanet creators Media Molecule. Just like that series, the game features a highly original storyline and encourages players to get creative within the parameters of its world.
What You Need to Know
Tearaway’s unique setting is a world made entirely from paper – a place of legends that you gaze upon from a place beyond the Sun. At the beginning of the game you’re introduced to a messenger who has a special delivery for you stored inside their envelope head, and over the course of your quest you’ll not only control them as you would in a typical adventure game, but also work alongside them to overcome a number of trials by literally reaching into their world using the various inputs of the PS Vita.
One of Tearaway’s greatest strengths is how unique almost every element in the game looks, sounds and feels. Its entire world is constructed from virtual paper that folds and bends as it would in the real world. Its eclectic soundtrack, meanwhile, features folk-inspired melodies that you wouldn’t usually hear in a videogame, and its excellent sound design also reflects the fact that this is a world you’ve never encountered before.
When it comes to gameplay, the only real similarities between Tearaway and other adventure titles are that you can run, jump, roll and interact with non-playable characters. Some of the game’s many innovations that utilise the PS Vita’s rear touchpad include being able to ‘push’ your fingers into its world to squash enemies or move platforms, and launch your messenger into the air by tapping the underside of special drumskin-like platforms.
What’s the Same?
If you enjoyed rolling up your sleeves and creating levels or objects in any of the LittleBigPlanet games then you’ll feel right at home with the design orientated gameplay elements of Tearaway. At various points during the game you’ll be prompted to create items such as a snowflake or pumpkin using different coloured sheets of paper, a pencil, scissors and a cutting board. You can also customise your messenger or Tearaway’s denizens using this same design mechanic, which again is reminiscent of the deep customisation options available in LittleBigPlanet.
If you’ve played either of Media Molecule’s previous games then there are other similarities that are easy to spot. One of these is how egalitarian Tearaway is – you can choose to play as a male or female messenger, select the colour of your skin tone for when your fingers poke through into the game’s world, and even choose which gender you’d prefer to be addressed as.
You’ll Enjoy Tearaway If You Liked…
… The LittleBigPlanet series. The same creative DNA that made LBP so endearing to fans is there for all to see in Tearaway.
… The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker. If you enjoyed the clean visual style and intricately designed animation of The Wind Waker then you’ll more than likely be enamoured with Tearaway’s gorgeous graphics inspired by papercraft.
… Kirby’s Epic Yarn. This Wii exclusive featured a world made entirely from fabric which directly informed a number of very clever gameplay mechanics. In a similar manner, Tearaway starts with a central conceit and creates an amazing gameplay experience based on the notion of a world made completely from paper.
What I Liked
- 5.) Tearaway is a very affordable prospect for PS Vita owners, costing just R283 at launch on the PlayStation Store with the inevitable price cuts and promotions still to come.
- 4.) The game’s checkpoint system is very generous and if you fall in battle any enemies you previously defeated will stay dead – very handy if you’re more interested in exploring than you are in fighting.
- 3.) There are dozens of objects hidden in Tearaway’s world that are devoid of colour. If you photograph one of these with your messenger’s camera you unlock a papercraft pattern of it on the Tearaway.me community website, which you can then print out and make in the real world.
- 2.) The environments in Tearaway are surprisingly diverse and range from green pastures to windswept coastlines. It’s always a joy to encounter a new landscape and see how the developers have expressed it purely through the use of virtual paper.
- 1.) You’d expect a world made entirely from paper to be a bit on the bland side but nothing could be further from the truth. The sheer artistry on display in Tearaway never ceases to amaze as flowers bloom when you walk past them and ribbon-like pathways unfurl under your touch.
There’s a canyon level fairly late in the game where a non-playable character asks you to shout something into the void. Later in the level you hear your voice echoing off the mountains which is just one example of how Tearaway tries its best to make you, the player, part and parcel of its world whenever possible.
What I Didn’t Like
- 4.)Players looking for a challenge may be disappointed with Tearaway’s very mild difficulty level. The game gets a bit more challenging towards the end but even then seasoned gamers will find the last few levels a walk in the park.
- 3.) The game’s camera system can be problematic as it’s not always under your control. Sometimes the camera will get stuck at an odd angle which can make certain platforming sections unintentionally frustrating.
- 2.) When I reflect back on Tearaway’s story, there weren’t many characters that really stood out and contributed a great deal to the narrative.
- 1.) The game is fairly linear which is a shame because I can imagine its various gameplay elements and spectacular visual design working very well in an open-world setting akin to The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker.
Least Favourite Moment
Reaching the end of the game and being thoroughly charmed by it, but nevertheless dissatisfied with Tearaway’s narrative arc and overall story. I think Media Molecule could have done a lot more with the game’s story and central cast, which perhaps played second fiddle to its visual and gameplay design.
Once you finish Tearaway you can revisit any level to try and unlock more papercraft patterns or do favours for various NPCs which earns you more in-game currency (i.e. confetti). You can also decorate your messenger to your heart’s content and take photos, or ‘selfies,’ which can be shared with other players via the Tearaway community site.
There are also presents containing confetti to seek out hidden in Tearaway’s diverse, sometimes expansive environments.
The Bottom Line
Tearaway is the best example so far of a game that plays to the strengths of the PS Vita and is easily one of the most artistically accomplished and original titles of the year.