Cut along the dotted line and tear yourself away from real life for a journey in a paper world paradise.
If you’ve not invested in a PlayStation Vita system because of lack of interesting or enjoyable video game titles, then this title may well prove it is time to purchase a PS Vita. Tearaway by Media Molecule is one of the best titles I’ve played on the PS Vita and I’ve played my fair share on Sony’s portable system since it’s release. Thinking back to the intial release of the Vita, it had a lack of flagship titles for it’s launch, and Tearaway should have been there from the start. Tearaway is a “killer app”, a reason to buy the console. This is not an exaggeration, the enthusiasm that I have for this title is boundless.
Tearaway unfolds its paper world story in a simple and creative way, a way I’ve never experienced before. You take the role of either Iota or Atoi, the female and male characters of the game, fully formed with cute envelope heads and matching paper attire. Your objective is to deliver a special message through a cleverly constructed paper environment. The game focuses its attention on you the player, as it plucks your image, in the form of a photo, and transports it into the world of Tearaway. At first it feels a little strange, as you see you photo starring back at you as a ray of sunshine. Admittedly, Teletubbies came to mind when I first experienced this pleasure. I had wondered what happened to the baby in that show. Throughout the game, your photo is cast upon walls, floors or hanging in the bright blue yonder. It’s an experience you’ll have to get used to, so smile for the camera at every opportunity, because you’re going to see a lot of yourself throughout the game.
Tearaway utilizes all the functions of the PS Vita in such wonderful ways, at times you’ll be completely swept away by its creativity. The touch screen interface will be seeing a lot of action as you use your fingers to pull on the silver fingerprint tabs to peel away panels and open the next route on your journey. The different areas are built for exploration and you’ll find yourself bouncing off objects fitted with flexible paper trimmed PlayStation symbols and tapping the rear touch pad will have your messenger catapulted into the air.
Other times, touching the rear touch pad will result in your virtual fingers piercing through the textures to destroy the annoying Scraps, the enemies of the game. It is slightly surreal to see your fingers bursting through the screen in such a way, but don’t worry, no harm will come to your Vita.
The Scraps are your enemies, annoying presents made of newspaper which do their best to deter you from your journey in this wonderful paper world. They are a major nuisance, but cute at the same time. As the messenger, you can transform into a ball and roll, spinning towards scraps on stilts, which have long protruding legs underneath them. Or you could use the front touch screen to destroy star stamped scraps, who you must eliminate by throwing and then stamping on them with your finger on the front touch screen. Scraps are relatively easy to destroy, you just have to dodge out of their way when they charge at you, leaving them prone and allowing you to pick them up and throw them into a wall or over a ledge. The flying scraps are a little hard to handle, but other ways of dealing with these pests will become apparent.
The Tearaway environments are lavish and rich in creativity, and the player will constantly feel connected to them. Wandering around the beautiful landscapes, you’ll discover presents waiting for you to open as you follow the confetti path of paper enlightenment. Throughout the game, after moving platforms with your fingers, tapping buttons to construct a path for your messenger or peeling cardboard cutout constructions, you’re going to be asked to perform a number of actions.
Various characters within the game will ask you to construct objects for them in your specially designed drawing and cutting workshop. This is an area in the game where you can select different coloured papers and design a hat, or any other item the character has requested, cut it away and then place it onto the character. It’s paper-craft fun without the paper cuts or glue, giving you full control of this very interactive experience. Designing the various objects is fun and simple, and even if you didn’t quite get your lines particularly straight or even, you’ll still see that character wearing that item in a haphazard way.
Customization is a key element within the game, and you can stop the game at any given point and purchase different attire for your messenger with the confetti you have collected. This enables you to completely redesign their somewhat strange appearance and give them a more edgy presentation. All of the items available to purchase are pre-cut, so no dodgy designs by yours truly. Multi-coloured confetti is strewn everywhere in this paper cut out world and it’s essential to collect if you want to purchase some of the attire for your messenger later in the game.
You’ll also be confronted with completely white objects in the landscape. Using the PS Vita’s camera you can capture a photo and transform their plain exterior to a colourful paper craft model, which you can print out at the official Tearaway website in the real world.
The creativity used by the developers doesn’t stop at making use of all of the Vita’s unique functions. The level designs also show a massive level of creativity and will have the player sucking up and blowing out enemy Scraps, or activating pink fans to blow the messenger to higher areas. At one point, you’re even accompanied by a baby paper Wendigo who you must help, guide and protect from the ruthless scraps.
Creativity and interaction are the key words in Tearaway. The game not only tells you a beautiful story, but also sucks you into this world of imagination. This finely crafted title makes you feel like the most important player, something I rarely see in a game. Tearaway’s atmosphere from start to finish is warming and you will never want the game to end. You’ll quite happily help the wonderful characters you come across, and you won’t mind if your cut out shapes look a little disheveled at times, as you will want to play in this paper land forever.