Tearaway (Vita) Review
Posted by Doug Yates on 12.23.2013
See why Tearaway is the first must-have Vita title.
Title: Tearaway Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment America Developer: Media Molecule Genre: Platformer Players: 1
As a jaded, cynical adult it is sometimes difficult to be enchanted with something. Tearaway was well beyond just enchanting—it was magical.
The love put into this game is obvious in every detail of the game world. Everything is made of paper in the world, from the swaying strips of paper grass to the ocean of unfurling water.
I sometimes forgot that the game was a digital creation as the animation is so convincing it looks like a hand animated stop-motion game.
Starting out the game you must first choose a gender, hand size, and skin tone. You will also be a character within the story, playing as a “you” that utilizes the front facing camera to pull you directly into the game world in the form of the sun in the sky.
Depending on your gender selection you will either play as Iota (male) or Atoi (female). Iota is a messenger, though technically he is the message itself—his head is an envelope—given the responsibility to deliver himself to you.
Upon breaking into the world your “you” unwittingly releases the “scraps” into the world. Scraps are little paper monsters bent on sucking the life and color out of the world.
Using the camera you obtain early on from a squirrel that needs a crown—that you create using tools provided within the game—you can take pictures of objects that have lost their color. Doing so adds the various objects and characters to your papercraft collection. You can then log onto the website provided in the game and download and create the paper models.
The way the story is allowed to unfold (pardon the pun) is natural and unforced, allowing you the player to explore and adventure as you see fit. While the levels themselves are fairly linear, plenty of changes of scenery keep it from getting stale.
The two narrators advance the story, often breaking the fourth wall to include you in their musings. The game is broken up into three segments: a forest area, the harbor, and a desert, although the later morphs into something much more abstract as the level progresses. Despite the oddness of the final leg of the trip, the final message is truly inspired and touching.
The three segments of the game are each broken up into smaller levels which each contain their own set of collectables, of which there are many. From presents to confetti, there are oodles of hidden areas and items to find and explore.
As you progress in the game it continually doles out new skills that you can utilize in your quest to deliver the message. Jumping comes in fairly early on, but later in the game you will obtain the ability to roll, or use an accordion to suck up and blow away enemies and objects.
Controlling your character is simple and straightforward for the most part. Some of the finger gymnastics required to use the back touchpad while also utilizing the analog stick can get a little tricky, but ultimately the intuitive nature wins out.
The camera can occasionally be a bit wonky when it gets stuck behind set pieces or moves suddenly, but the extremely forgiving checkpoints ensures that it never really becomes a major issue.
The game manages to use every bit of the Vita’s hardware to pull you into the game, and that is in fact exactly what they do: you are able to directly interact with the world yourself via both of the touchpads as well as the microphone and cameras.
Being able to stick your finger through the bottom of the game world and directly interact with enemies and objects was one of the main mechanics used throughout the game. Many more are used but finding and using them is part of the experience.
The voice work is well done. Although the two narrators are the only characters that actually speak, all other characters vocalize in very much the same vein as those from LittleBigPlanet. The music score is also very well done and its oddness and whimsy are a good compliment to the game.
This is one of those rare games that truly transcends generations. My five year old and significant other both were clamoring to play as soon as I was done with it. I don’t expect to see my vita again for quite some time.
I have never played a game where I felt more a part of the game’s world than I did with Tearaway. New experiences and sights are found around every corner of the game from beginning to end. Not once did I ever feel like it was “more of the same.”
The 411: In an age where realism and violence have taken over the gaming industry, it is truly a breath of fresh air to see something this lighthearted and magical still come into being. My entire family agrees that this is the first must-play game for the Vita.
A whimsical, immaculately detailed paper world.
Highly intuitive touch controls and utilization of all the vita hardware.
Music sets the tone and the two narrators carry the story well.
with so many collectibles including papercraft designs there is plenty of reasons to continue playing
occasional camera blips don't really deter from an otherwise magical experience.