Review – Tearaway
Ok, you’ve got me, I’ll be honest here. I’ve been putting this review off for a few weeks now, not because this game is bad – far from it – it’s just that I can’t really think of a way to review Tearaway without just incoherently gushing over how good a game it actually is. Well, it looks like I’ve already failed in the first sentence so I guess I better just get into it!
Tearaway marked Media Molecules’ second attempt at making the most lovable character in gaming (the first being Sackboy from the wonderful LittleBigPlanet of course, but you already knew that). It’s also their second attempt at realising the idea of pure creativity to a game, with one of the biggest draws to LBP being the ability to create your own levels, Tearaway does things a little differently opting instead to let the player design aspects of the world as they play.
Tearaway follows the story of a ‘You’ (that’s you, it even beams your face through the Sun using the front camera) and a little paper messenger, either Iota (male) or Atoi (female) as you work together to deliver a message and save the world from invading scraps (evil bits of boring newspaper from our world that attack the messengers world), confused yet? The plot is really well written and the ending is satisfying, which is a lot more than I was expecting from the game to be honest, I thought the plot would take a backseat but it really doesn’t. You’ll find yourself wanting to play more just to find out what’s going to happen to your little messenger friend. The only downfall at this point is that Tearaway is slightly short, I managed to finish it in a day. The game is however sold at a reduced price and it does have a great amount of replayability, with collectables stashed away in every level. It’s definitely well worth going back through a few times to get everything you missed, and it’s so much fun you’ll want to anyway.
The true magic of Tearaway lies in it’s world however. Created entirely of papercraft it’s a marvel of design and creativity. The best description of Tearaway I can think of is this, it’s like a team of people took an entire universe from the imagination of a very creative child and then made it from paper. It’s gorgeous, vivid, different and instantly loveable. Throughout your journey you’ll visit giant paper valleys, snowy mountains, deserts, farms, larger than life barns and much, much more. Each tiny aspect of the world is meticulously crafted, from the giant floating drums and forests right down to the way the paper water splashes under foot, words cannot actually describe how full of wonder this world actually is. What’s more impressive is that this is all achieved on the Vita, a handheld device. This is just me talking about the colourful visuals, I haven’t even mentioned the gorgeous orchestral soundtrack. Considering that the only voice acting in the game is handled by the 2 narrators (who do an amazing job by the way), the music really has to hold the game up at times and it does that spectacularly. It’s a masterpiece of design that deserves a whole lot of credit just for that, let alone how it actually plays. (See, gushing, I told you didn’t I? Stick with me though, if you can, I will persuade you to buy this by the end!)
Tearaway is the first game that can officially say it uses all of the features on the Vita system; Touch screen? Check. Rear touch pad? Check. Both cameras? Check. Mic? Check. It has them all, even the rarely used accelerometer gets some love with the in game camera (more important than it sounds). What’s far more impressive however is the fact that none of these features seem shoehorned into the game, each one feels like a natural addition to the game and they all work fantastically well – that is, save for 1. Resizing paper objects to stick to anything in Tearaway is a nightmare, which is a true shame because I gave up on a lot of extra creativity in my creations due to just how much of a hassle it was to do. Bar this though everything works very well.
Tearaway is a 3D platformer in the likes of your Mario’s or your Crash Bandicoots, however it doesn’t really have much in common with them beyond that. Most of the platforming takes place as a reason to explore and the plot is more of an effect for progress than the actual gameplay is is. This game was made to be enjoyed, not to induce rage in the later levels (although if you talk to Steph from stephonscreen.com you’ll probably hear a different story about a couple of sections!). That’s not to say that the game is a cakewalk, it just doesn’t make you angry, and everything is easy enough after a couple of attempts. The controls are perfect too, gone are the floaty jump days from LittleBigPlanet, Iota/Atoi is no Sackboy. The platforming and combat in this game are precise and flowing, with a steady amount of unlockable abilities throughout the game so that it never seems old. There are even a few on rails pieces to break up the platforming here and there.
Look, I could talk for days and days about Tearaway: about how cute it’s papercraft animals are, about how witty the writing can be, about how customisable everything in the game is, about how well designed the enemies/inhabitants of the world are, about everything. You just need to play this game, there’s no other way about it. This game is a gem of creativity in a sea of greybrown shooters and post apocalyptic death. If you own a Vita this is a must play, if you don’t own a Vita then start thinking about getting one, the system is improving leaps and bounds with Tearaway being the current flagship leading the charge of gorgeous and innovative games that are on their way to the system. I will stop gushing now, seriously all, play this game!