Review: Tearaway Is An Incredibly Charming Vita Showcase
This charming platformer from the creators of LittleBigPlanet is not only incredibly well designed, it also serves as the best use of all the Vita's features to date.
- Worth The Time?It's not the longest title, but definitely worth every minute.
- Things LovedCharming, beautiful papercraft world. The connection you develop with your Messenger. Platforming is both satisfying and challenging. Fantastic use of all the Vita's hardware, using everything in meaningful ways. Robust paper creation system. Open areas offer quite a bit to do. Fantastic ending.
- Things HatedSome camera issue here and there. Combat feels a bit oddly placed. Difficult to go back once completed.
- RecommendationIf you have a PlayStation Vita, then you really shouldn't think twice about Tearway. This little title uses the Vita to its full potential, finally bringing together its "gimmicky" features into meaningful and well designed play.
- Name: Tearaway
- Genre: Platformer
- Players: 1
- Multiplayer: N/A
- Platforms: PlayStation Vita
- Developer: Media Molecule
- Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment
- Price: R339.00
- Reviewed On: PlayStation Vita
There’s something weird about Tearaway in the sense that I always fail to describe it effectively to anyone. It always starts off with me telling them how Tearaway takes place in a world mad up of paper, and how you can tear, create and colour all manners of papercraft creatures in this beautiful world. Their eyes open up more. I can see their interest piqued. “But that’s not the best part. In Tearaway, your face is the sun.” At this point, a look of confusion usually washes over their face, followed by the words, “hey, that reminds me of Teletubbies.” Fear not though, because despite my efforts to accurately convey it, Tearaway stands as the single best reason for anyone to own a Vita, delivering an interesting and engrossing world for you to jump, roll and create in.
Tearaway follows the story of either little Iota or Atoi, depending on whether you choose your messenger to be male or females. Either one has the title of Messenger bestowed upon them, with an envelope forming their head while most of the rest of their body is made up of, you guessed it, paper. The Messenger has a message for ‘The You”, which just so happens to be you, the player, who is superimposed on the sun in the game using the PS Vita’s camera. The beings of Tearaway are mesmerised by your power, and encourage the messenger to deliver his or her unique message to you. And so begins your journey together, with you helping little Iota or Atoi along their lifelong journey to ultimately discover what message they’re trying to deliver, leading them closer and closer to your face on the horizon.
The story is simple yet extremely effective. Tearaway engrosses you in a world that is so wonderfully unique yet similar to our own. Along the way the Messenger will get closer and closer to your face, nearly reaching it from time to time only to have the game’s narrators stop him or her dead in their tracks, stating that their message is not yet ready to be delivered. The reason fro this only becomes apparent near the end of this relatively short title, but the imaginative and powerful message that is finally revealed at the end is both heart warming and intriguing, delivering a powerful ending to a tale you may not have always picked up on. It’s the type of magic you’d expect from Media Molecule, and it truly delivers on all fronts.
Your journey across the world of Tearaway starts with Iota or Atoi, allowing you to choose who your Messenger is and then giving you all the agency you can possibly desire in terms of customisation. You’re able to purchase al manners of paper stickers and shapes to add to your messenger, with a handy and pretty impressive crafting tool allowing you to create your own paper decals using various different colours of paper and your very own finger. Simply create the shape you want, hit the scissor icon and drag away any excess paper you don’t want. Combine it with other colours, keep cutting and hit ok when you’re done, only to watch your creation become a part of the Messenger’s world. It’s a really neat creation tool that works well in context with the game, and those with more creative minds are sure to sink unhealthy amounts of time into this little corner of Tearaway.
Tearaway is filled with mechanics such as this that take all the features available on the Vita and grabs them with both hands. Tearaway is probably the single best use of the entire system altogether, integrating hardware with meaningful features in terms of software. In some areas you’re able to use the rear touch pad to push your finger into the game world, tearing the paper floor to move platforms, hold others in place or dispatch enemies, known as scraps (scraps of paper, you get the idea). In other instances, you’re forced to use the Vita’s rear camera to take a photo of something around you, letting it wrap the photo as a texture on a deer or tree within Tearaway in exchange for the games currency, which is fittingly called confetti. And, of course, the front camera is used rather regularly, putting you within the Messenger’s world and making you feel integral to the entire experience, something that is not always seen in even bigger titles.
Apart from all of this, Tearaway is a pretty great platformer too. You’ll run, jump and roll your way through incredibly designed worlds, with inch close jumps being paced quite nicely with easy to grasp and entertaining segments. Building on all the feature integration, Tearaway never let’s you forget that you have exactly five fingers, often calling you to jump while holding a platform in place with a separate finger, or allowing you to guide the Messenger riding on a pig while clearing obstacles using the rear touch pad. All of this interaction is conveyed well through the use of subtle visual cues, so it’s rare for you to be kept wondering as to what influence you may have during any particular moment. Occasionally the camera does act up and there was one instance where I was forced to restart a checkpoint due to getting stuck in some inescapable flower, but rest assured that these issues are extremely few and far between, and there’s a strong possibility that you’ll never encounter them.
There are, however, more noticeable downfalls peppered around Tearaway that keep the game from reaching perfect heights. First and foremost is the combat, which feels more out of place than anything else. Enemy types are varied, with later ones building on the tiny scraps you encounter from the get go, but more often than not combat feels less entertaining than the rest of the mechanics on offer. It’s not bad; it’s just not as good as everything around it, making it stand out like a sore thumb. The confetti gun also breaks combat somewhat near the end of the game, although that’s not necessarily a bad thing. And speaking of the end of the game, Tearaway reaches it fairly quickly. It’s easy to clock the 5 hour campaign in a single sitting, and while it did leave me feeling satisfied I struggled to find a reason to return, making it a rather expensive afternoon activity.
But if there ever was a game that truly realised the platform it was being played on, it’s Tearaway. Despite its small flaws, Media Molecule have delivered the best Vita title to date, making it that one title that you can look at and consider a console purchase over. It’s beautiful, charming and well constructed, allowing only small gripes to hinder it along the way. But there really is no reason for you to miss out on the world of Tearaway, and craft your own journey with your Messenger of choice.