For those not in the know, Tearaway originally found life as a PS Vita exclusive a couple of years ago and was easily one of the best games the handheld had to offer. Media Molecule (The crazy cats behind the first two Little Big Planet Games and the upcoming Dreams) is famous for taking the playful aesthetic of real world objects and placing them in a sprawling game world while giving the player a sandbox of creative freedom and cuteness to play with. Tearaway is much the same but instead of tactile objects it goes for a majestic world filled with origami and papercraft.
The spirit of an MM game shined in Tearaway through and through. It took the recipe of what made Little Big Planet so unique and transferred that idea into a 3D platformer in which you would control cute paper avatars Atoi (the female version) and Iota (male) in the trials and tribulations of delivering a message to the all holy being of the sky. The twist of course is that this holy being who controls the story from on high is none other than you. With Tearaway, MM really took the breaking of the fourth wall to a truly imaginative place. Fast forward and the team have continued their pedigree of excellence and imagination with Tearaway Unfolded. This is more than just a reskin of the original title for Vita and has a whole new set of tricks up its sleeve for players to explore, unravel and tinker with.
The concept of Tearaway Unfolded is simple, and follows a vaguely similar concept as the great indie Journey. You are simply entrusted with the one job of reaching the sky, however it is not the end goal that’s important but the adventure along the way that makes the game so endearing. The narrators of the tale start the journey with a great poke at social media and how TV is boring and soul crushing, that we need to reassess what is entertainment and thus – the Tearaway tale begins. The main aim of the game is to continue forthwith and collect confetti that lets you upgrade your look and purchase cool new stickers to pimp out your avatar. With confetti you can also get camera lenses / filters to take snazzy photos that can be uploaded to the rather cool public site for Tearaway fans to swap stories, papercrafts and in game photos.
The game has its fair share of enemies, and it is a fun addition to the story that these are added in for some danger to the story (You gotta re word this one, I can’t figure out what you’re trying to say- JG, Yeah maybe just a quick couple of sentences on how combat works – KS) (the games narrators literally pick and choose things to throw into the story for you). I love the way it handles that fourth wall breakage; it feels directly aimed at the player and gives you a strong sense that the game is for you and you only.
The worlds that you visit throughout your journey are as vibrant and colourful as they were on Vita, and the simple but rich aesthetics look all the more pretty running on PS4. Tearaway Unfolded is a spectacular visual overload and one of the nicest games to behold on the system, even if it is the most unrealistic thing out there.
The world is completely made of paper, from the biggest flower (insert any noun here T-Payne) to the tiniest blade of grass. Little touches like how bigger and smaller pieces of paper behave differently as they sway in the wind or as you run over them seem like such minor details, but truly bring the lands to life in an awesome way. The game was modelled on the real world physics of how paper would move and react (however MM managed that), and the result is like stepping into a giant childhood diorama come to life. It is quite spectacular and whether you are young or old, it will certainly bring about the good vibes.
The Vita version of the game did some awesome things with the system and the touch controls (like poking a finger through the rear touch pad to tear paper) and the move to PS4 has obviously needed a rethink of how to approach these touch elements. Thankfully, MM knows what is up and have transitioned the controls very well, using the Dualshock 4 touchpad to great effect to emulate what the Vita could do. They also make good use of the light bar for some cool additions that makes this feature begin to show its true potential for future games.
Another cool thing is the addition of a second screen app in which another remote player can jump in and do some quirky things in game while the main player cruises around the story. It never felt like a hindrance and worked surprisingly well with the flow of the game. Another great addition is the musical score, it is a hipster’s wet dream with a whole bunch of alternative classical, woozy hip-hop and glimmering synths. It is as creative as the game itself and does an amazing job of further stamping a sense of place on the world.
There is A LOT to see and do in Tearaway Unfolded, an average playthrough will take around 6-8 hours just for the campaign, but the extended end game and sheer amount of collectibles that you can go back and search for is quite awesome. You could easily sink another 20 hours after an initial play-through for that coveted 100% completion.
My only gripe with the game, and it is minor, is that I found my objectives to be occasionally vague. Even with on screen prompts giving me a hint of what I needed to do next, I still found myself lost and left to explore to try and find the next checkpoint for adventure. For a game like Tearaway this isn’t such a big deal as there is so much to see and do, but like the Vita version (which also had this problem), it did become frustrating at times when I simply wanted to get on with the adventure. Again, this is a minor gripe in what is a spectacular game that warrants any gamer’s time.
When released on Vita it felt the game was lost amongst the plethora of AAA titles on more popular systems, and remains an underrated gem on that platform. Now with Tearaway Unfolded, the larger install base on PS4 will give more people a chance to experience this unique and beautiful game. Still not interested? If you are looking for a title that pushes the creative technology of your PS4 to the next level and makes good on the promise that the DS4 has some huge potential outside of being just a controller then I recommend this game. It is a creative feat, just like its original baby brother on the Vita and is easily one of the cutest, forward-thinking indie titles around right now.
Tearaway brings back that creative spark we all had as kids, the sense of joy and wonder as we created our first LEGO pirate ship or made our first paper mache volcano. It is for all ages and well worth your attention for a perfect, nostalgia-fueled session of gaming.