Let me start by saying with what time I’ve had with it, Tearaway is an infectiously charming little Vita game that seems perfect for pocket play.
More than just a LittleBigPlanet spiritual spin-off, Tearaway harkens back to platformers of yore and restores the nostalgic magic of such classic gameplay designs while bringing them into the modern day with an endearing papercraft theme centered on creation and sharing, unique humour and pure unadulterated fun that only Media Molecule could ever pull off.
But how does it differ from its yesteryear inspirations? Well, by literally tearing down the fourth wall.
In Tearaway, you have a direct connection to the real world. As a “You”, your giant face looks down from the sun (through the PS Vita’s front camera) into the world of Tearaway as an acknowledged, omniscient being. Even the two witty narrators who describe the story cheekily reference what’s been done before and their desires for something new – and “You” is the ingredient needed to change up the formula.
For some reason or another, you share a special connection with a messenger of Tearway’s colourful, creative papercraft world. The messenger – referred to as either an Iota or Atoi depending on your gender – is fully customisable, but the poor guy can’t even jump on his own in the begnning!
He or she ultimately needs your help, and you offer your outer-worldly services by crossing over in a limited capacity. In this instance, Media Molecule makes full use of the Vita’s unique features – the touchscreen, rear touchpad and camera – in ways that feel creative and natural and which offer genuine, unique interactivity as opposed to incorporating them just because.
For instance, my cute little Iota was ambushed by a wave of aggressive ‘scraps’ – nasty little enemies that resemble origami gone wrong – and he couldn’t fight them off on his own. By using the Vita’s rear touch-pad, I was able to smack the baddies away and witness my fingers pierce the paper floor beneath them, sending the scraps soaring into the skies. A few persistent buggers found themselves stuck on the Vita's front screen, and I almost felt bad for swatting them off with a touch of the front-screen.
You tell me you wouldn't want to help such a cute little (papery) guy.
Seeing my grateful little buddy safe and needing help to traverse over a ravine prompted me to push a few bridges his way with another touch of the rear touch-pad. This led to a colourful papery present at the end of the path, which also required a few light touch on the Vita’s touchscreen to open.
Exploring the papery world of Tearway is an absolute joy and is probably an origami-lover’s dream. The environments are colourful, its inhabitants are quirky and the music is infectiously upbeat. The first level also had many colourless objects that when captured with the in-game camera, can be used as a real downloadable papercraft print from the official Tearaway website, which is an awesome extra touch to the experience.
The two levels I got to play have a ton of standard collectibles in the form of confetti to collect – these are used to purchase papery accessories and features to customise your messenger – as well as secret gifts, optional quests, and more. I've said it before, but it's quite refreshing to have fun creating and jumping around a colourful world rather than another game centered on conflict, and in this aspect Tearaway is a welcome respite from the domination of GTA V and Killzone: Mercenary in the last few weeks.
Tearaway's papercraft customisation is just as in-depth as LittleBigPlanet's sticker systems.
Perhaps the coolest bit of the preview was a quirky little beaver who needed my help in crafting him a crown. Many characters apparently require your assistance to craft some new papery creations, and the game shifts to a virtual cutting board with a variety of options to cut and create various shapes and objects, detail them with layers and decorate them with all manner of things.
The Vita’s touch system works well here – Media Molecule and Sony’s first party studios always know how to integrate it best – and while I’m not the most creative gamer in the world, cutting out a crown and pasting it on top of the beaver’s head and watching him wear my creation proudly was just plain awesome.
Just like with LittleBigPlanet, Media Molecule have got a real treat for gamers who want a fun platformer with extensive customisation and an emphasis on creation and sharing. While the PS4 is on its way and may take up the spotlight this month, remember to check out Tearaway and find out why it’s a must-buy Vita exclusive.