Moving onto a new IP after overwhelming success with LittleBigPlanet, developers Media Molecule obviously had a huge task in front of them. A company known for their extraordinary imagination and creative ability, how on earth were they going to trump their previous releases? Thankfully for them, Tearaway exceeds everything that came before it, providing a fresh feeling adventure that evokes excitement and cranks your imagination up to 11.
Hailing from the creators urge to innovate, the most unique aspect of Tearaway is that it takes place within a world in which everything is crafted from paper. Upon starting up the title, the striking beauty of this original visual style hits you hard. Media Molecule have obviously spent much of their time nailing the art style, and it has definitely paid off, offering the best looking visuals on the platform to date. Everything looks nice and crisp with objects retaining their rigidity, perfectly capturing the papercraft theme. Most objects in the world aren’t static either and interact properly with the player. The grass will whip around the players feet as they run through it, and the flooring will flatten and shape itself when the player stands on it. It’s this sheer attention to detail that speaks volumes for the developer’s passion for not just the art style, but the game as a whole. It all looks gorgeous and each level offers a variety of new locales and vibrant colours, resulting in a real treat for the eyes and adding a ridiculous amount of charm.
Complementing its art style, Tearaway has exceptional gameplay that constantly reinvents itself and throws something new into the mix. While the player may begin the early stages of the game with limited ability, they will soon learn how to jump, roll around, take photos with an in-game camera and use a super-powered accordion. Each ability has multiple uses opening up to varied gameplay and an abundance of different puzzles that need them, of which never once feel the same. As well as these character abilities, much of the game world calls out for interaction utilising both the rear and front touch screens, and the gyroscope. Some objects signify usage of the front touch screen to flatten, move, or unravel the game world, while alternatively other objects indicate interaction through the rear touch pad. These are perhaps the most interesting aspects of the gameplay, and are both a quirky and interesting way to interact with the world. In a lot of cases the player will be able to stick their finger through the game world, ripping through the paper flooring with huge dramatic flair. With this ability you are free to move objects around, kill enemies and boost the player upwards. In other instances you will be able to tap the back of the device to bounce the player up into the air like a drum. While these features are only limited to certain spots, they are a very nice addition to the gameplay and do well to uphold a consistent interest in the gameplay. While on the whole it’s a joy to play, the platforming can on occasion become frustrating thanks to the camera. While for the most part it behaves perfectly, the odd frustration can impede on progress and ultimately result in the player’s death.
Outside of the aforementioned elements, combat is periodically thrown into the mix. Continuing on the trend of the platforming gameplay, Tearaway’s combat is basic but evolves based upon the more abilities you gain, requiring the player to mix a variety of abilities to defeat specific enemy encounters. While combat is never the central focus of the game, it is a fun and a not too difficult distraction that breaks up the platforming and puzzle solving gameplay. While the second half of the game incorporates much more combat, it never becomes an arduous task thanks to fantastic pacing and sizeable chunks being left between these encounters.
The story surrounding the game is again simplistic, but that’s not to say that it cuts away on creativity. Consistently breaking the fourth wall throughout, you are avidly incorporated into the adventure and encouraged to take part. The story begins when a mysterious being known as a ‘you’ (directly referencing the player) has appeared in the sun, and along with it, a slew of nasty creatures called scraps. It’s all up to you to control the messenger and deliver an important message to the player in the sky and restore balance to the land. Along your journey across this fantastic world, the player will encounter all kinds of wacky and cute characters that will offer help or presents in exchange for completing certain tasks. Fortunately variety is the name of the game in Tearaway, and you will find yourself delving into all kinds of fresh game mechanics that demonstrate the Vita’s unique features to their fullest extent. Some may require you to take a picture of a real-life material so that it can be applied to a character or object, while some might require you to change your characters appearance to suit specific situations. The most interesting of the tasks requires you to craft specific items out of a variety of different coloured pieces of paper. Think of this mode as a mini-version of ‘Art Attack’, with the ability to cut out shapes from pieces of paper, and place them onto your creation accordingly. It’s a nifty little feature that definitely sparks more than enough creativity in the player to want to invest time into it and make something they are proud of.
From completing these tasks and exploring the levels the player earns confetti, the games currency that allows for the purchase of stickers for the messenger, and lenses and filters for the in-game camera. Despite the fact that only a handful of these actually need to be purchased to progress through the game, the confetti never feels like a redundant feature. Instead, it only opens up the enjoyment of the game, allowing you to personalise your character through the wide selection of stickers, and take some great images of the game world. Adding further, the game allows the player to upload their photos to an online profile and share their creations and photography skills with the world.
Clocking in between 7 and 9 hours in length, Tearaway isn’t exactly the longest game in the Vita library. Despite this however, Tearaway is an incredible experience from start to finish that is sure to sit as one of the most memorable games of this generation, and that is partly down to the creative level design. At one point you might find yourself in a luscious green outdoors environment, the next you may find yourself in desert, and the next in a Wily Wonka inspired laboratory. While the levels begin in conventional settings, the game does take a rather surreal turn in the latter part. Platforming from then on becomes much more mind-bending, and the environments become unusual opening up to new puzzles and interactions. Sadly this section becomes an almost unwelcome transition, with the jarring switch to unconventional settings removing some of the games visual charm. Thankfully this doesn’t tarnish the experience too much as the gameplay in these final sections is some of the best and most varied offered by the title.
Each level not only incorporates its own unique features and puzzles, but also contains its own cast of memorable characters. Each character is brought to life through impeccable character design, and a great sense of British humour much in the style of LittleBigPlanet. Further enhancing this huge sense of character, the game incorporates a fantastic musical score that is just as wild and crazy as the world that inspired it. Upbeat musical hooks are rife here and mix perfectly with bizarre instrumentation and sounds to create a soundtrack with true identity.
Tearaway is amazing. That’s all that needs to be said on the matter. It’s not the game that the Vita has deserved after all this time, but it’s the game that the Vita has needed. Displaying the full capabilities of the handheld and its many features, this title is sure to convince gamers of the Vita’s potential and drive countless hardware sales. Despite the Vita’s stunted growth in the market, Media Molecule has successfully produced not only the best and most creative Vita game, but one of the best handheld games ever that will surely define the future of a handheld still in its youth. Combining a rich art style with simplistic yet fun gameplay, Tearaway is a masterpiece that will ignite fun in players no matter their age. What are you waiting for? Go out and buy it now, you won’t regret it!
- Fantastic papercraft art style.
- Great use of the Vita’s many features.
- Consistently fun and surprising gameplay.
- Memorable characters and levels.
- Fantastic soundtrack.
- Occasionally frustrating camera.
- The last section falls a little short on charm.
Disclaimer:All scores given within our reviews are based on the artist’s personal opinion; this should in no way impede your decision to purchase the game.