Developer: Media Molecule
Release Date: 11/22/2013
Rating: Everyone 10+
Also Available On
Media Molecule is known for innovation. LittleBigPlanet was a huge revolution in creative sandbox gameplay and platforming. Tearaway does the same thing for the Vita, but for the platforming genre. The game is the best looking game for Vita and is the only game out that uses all of the hardware’s features in a very unique and original way.
You play as the messenger Atoi who must reach the sun where a You (the player) has ripped a hole in and are letting Scraps inside the world of Tearaway. The game uses the front facing camera to show you in the sun. You can then control Atoi and guide him using the rear touchpad and touchscreen. There really aren’t complicated puzzles but challenging platforming sections. When you see gray areas with the PS buttons on it (like the rear touch pad) you can poke your finger through in the game. The first time I did this it made me giddy and smile. You can do this to fight off scraps, push blocks around, and bounce drum pads to help Atoi along. You can also use the touch screen to roll out paper and interact with dozens and dozens of various papercraft items.
Just these two major features alone are enough to call Tearaway the best game for Vita, but it doesn’t stop there. You can customize Atoi and characters in the world kind of like LBP. There’s no Pop-It but you can buy items using Confetti you find in the world. There aren’t as many items as LBP, but because it’s a straight-up platformer you won’t really need that many items. Tearaway also has a unique papercraft origami collection you can find and print out online to create your own Tearaway world. To acquire these blueprints you need to find pure white objects in the world and take pictures of them. This adds to the creativity on a whole new level and helps build on this “real world leaking into the virtual world” theme.
Outside of platforming and customizing things there is combat, but it’s very simple and easy. You can’t die in the game and combat never varies from jumping on Scraps or picking them up and throwing them. Some involve jumping in their Springpad and tapping them to kill them. I wish the combat were a little deeper, but what’s here at least works and is fun. There’s a lot of stuff to find in the world like hidden presents, and side objectives where you help out various animals. After you beat the game the only thing you can do is complete the game 100%, but the game is well worth multiple playthroughs.
Let’s talk about graphics. I have no idea how MM got this game to look like a PS3 game but they did. There are no jaggies, no ugly low-resolution textures, the lighting is great, and the animations are gorgeous. Wrinkled paper on the ground can be stepped on and you can watch it depress and raise back up when you walk off of it. All effects are done by paper and no other game looks like it. This is truly the best game on Vita right now and every owner needs to play this.
The Good: Beautiful art style, excellent soundtrack, unique and incredibly creative gameplay, makes fantastic use of Vita’s features, incorporates you into the gameplay (literally), tons of collectibles, fun for everyone
The Bad: Back touch screen controls a little flimsy, combat is monotonous and simplistic, too short, too easy
Tearaway is the sort of game experience that only comes once. It’s beautiful, majestic, enchanting, powerful, creative, fun, and so much more. Media Molecule has truly outdone themselves with a game. I’ll cherish it forever, and it’s a shame that so few other people will be able to due to the Vita’s small audience. That’s not to say I wish it were on another console, however- the Vita is an integral part of the gameplay.
You take two roles in this game instead of one. One of which is literally yourself and the other is Iota (male)/Atoi(female), a messenger. The goal of the game is to get Iota (my choice of the messenger) to deliver a message to you, a face in the sun. Unfortunately, your opening of the sun has also allowed scraps, the enemies of the game, to enter the beautiful paper-crafted world of Tearaway. You take direct control of Iota throughout the game, but “your” influence over the game is from the back touch-screen, where your fingers enter the game to create holes in the world at specific black and white spots. This allows you to solve puzzles, help out during combat, and allows Iota to reach higher areas. This will surely make anyone squeal in delight the first time you do it. Many of the Vita’s other features, like the camera, are also taken advantage of.
The fact that the world is made of paper does more than just make the game look beautiful; it plays into the gameplay as well. Characters will often ask you to make custom papercraft designs for them, and I (a typically very unartistic person) gladly did it. In any other game, most people would probably just sprout the world with middle fingers among many other unpleasant drawings. But the world in Tearaway is so enthralling, so cheerful, and so beautiful that I couldn’t help but take all their requests seriously, yet in a fun way. I gladly completed every side quest I came across not for the reward, but simply because I wanted to (also, the side quests are pretty fun).
The actual platforming itself is pretty stellar, but nothing special. Puzzles are pretty straightforward, and the combat is mediocre. It starts off fun and charming enough, but other than enemy types and one additional weapon it doesn’t really progress. It’s not terrible- it’s just not something I ever looked forward to and is also incredibly easy. The thing that kept me playing this game was its creativity and beauty. I have never played a game before that literally involved me so much into the gameplay. Too bad the game is only 5-6 hours long. However, the game is loitered with collectibles (confetti), which you can use to unlock more items for your papercraft designs. It would take a few hours to find all of them. There are also origami models you can find by taking pictures of white objects. Finding these unlocks you a blueprint on a website which teaches you how to make them in the real world. This is just one of the many clever ideas contained in the game.
Once I beat the game, I thought I was done with it. I recommended it to my sister, and that’s when something really special happened. She played it, and absolutely loved it. She’s a casual gamer, and she beat this game within a few days. And I, who had just beat the game days before, watched her play it almost entirely from beginning to end. You’d think I would’ve been tired of the game by that point, but I wasn’t. I had just as much fun sharing that experience with someone else as I did playing it myself.
The soundtrack is also amazing. There are some particularly ingenious tracks which start off rather calmly (or sometimes annoyingly), and then pick up the pace. I have no clue how Media Molecule got this game to look this good on the Vita, but those geniuses did it anyways. It runs almost entirely silky smooth as well, with only a few framerate drops.
Tearaway is a magical game. There will probably never be anything like it again, and maybe that’s okay because that’s what makes it so special. I can’t see anyone ever not enjoying this game, or not awkwardly smiling when it presents your face in the sun, or not feeling sad at the ending just because the game had ended, or not attempting to throw a peanut into a basketball hoop three times in order to impress the king of squirrels. So much about this game is unique and fun, and it is clearly the best game on the Vita. If you own a Vita, there’s literally no reason to not play this game.