Media Molecule have a reputation for making creative games thanks to Little Big Planet. Within that series you took on the role of Sackboy, a little guy made of soft looking fabric who travelled an ever growing amount of levels created by users from materials in the game. For their new game Media Molecule have again managed to create something with a unique feel to it but instead of fabric, this new venture is made entirely of paper. I first played Tearaway at Gamescom in Germany and it was like opening a pop-up story book. You are immediately taken in by the colours and using your fingers to unfold the paper world around you, it was a great first impression. When it came to starting the real game I was excited to jump back into this adventure. Unlike the demo though the game starts off a bit slower paced and very gradually brings you in, layer by layer.
Before you start you select who your little character will be, Iota or Atoi. They are male and female versions of the messenger, an adorable little envelope that travels through the world of Tearaway to give you a message. You are in this game too you see, as a God like presence that is watching down on the world. Similar to the laughing baby from the teletubbies, your face is the sun, as little Atoi makes their way around you will sometimes see your face in real time rise up in the distance. The messenger is searching for a way to reach you in the sun to give you a message and you have to help them on this journey.
Every area of the paper world is beautiful and colourful. Everything looks as though it could really be made out of paper and it can. As you go through each level there are paper craft models for you to unlock which can show you how to build pieces of the Tearaway world in your own one. This is an excellent idea, fans of the game will be able to build their own models and parents will able to help their children make toys to let them continue playing after the game has finished. All the creatures in the game are adorable, from the Squirrel King to the prize pig, even the Scraps, your enemy in Tearaway, look cuter than they do menacing. I don’t have much to say about the music, sometimes the upbeat tunes fitted the tone of the game but at times I personally found it a bit grating.
Customisation plays a strong role in Tearaway and the game encourages you to do it. You can’t build levels the way you could in Little Big Planet but you are free to decorate your messenger however you wish. Characters you come across will ask you to make them a different colour, build them a new accessory or ask you to give yourself a makeover. Some side quests require you to wear specific decorations to complete them. There are premade decorations, mouths and eyes that you can purchase with confetti-that you find around the game or you can take coloured paper and create your own decorations where the only limit is your own ability. If there is a colour you want that isn’t in the game, you can take a photo of the real world with your Vita and use it in Tearaway. The paper can be drawn on, cut out and stuck to other cut out pieces letting you make whatever you can think of. Already there are some great photos online that players have put up of their own creations and attempts to make the messenger look like already established cartoon and game characters.
A running theme in Tearaway is connecting your world with the game world, it can be through seeing yourself in the sun, putting photos into the game or interacting with your character with the touch screen, camera, motion controls and recording sounds for the game with the microphone. It’s a strange feeling to see photos of your face scattered throughout your journey. Tearaway is the first game on the Vita that feels like it really makes use of all the features it offers, I’ve never had as much fun with the back touch screen until now. When you press it a finger bursts through the ground of the game world and you can push away enemies or move blocks to open up a path for your messenger. The front screen is used for you to peel open paper doors and paths as well as squashing some enemies with your fingers.
I must say I was disappointed with the first part of the game and honestly found the gameplay boring. The world and ideas were unique but at the start all you do is walk your messenger from place to place, opening the world with very little challenge from any of the scraps. The messenger gradually gains abilities such as being able to jump and roll up into a ball to move around faster but the platforming is very basic and at no point do the Scraps really offer much of a challenge. Towards the end of the game a new element of motion control is added and this will catch your attention again, you may be able to play through most of the game without needing to react much but here you will have to carefully move your Vita around and walk your messenger forward at the same time. There will be blocks marked with a large X or O on them, holding down X will make the blocks sink into the ground and releasing X will make them pop up while also making your messenger jump. These sections were interesting too as you have to prepare yourself to time the jumps and blocks right in order to move forward.
Tearaway is a game that lets you explore a totally unique world and makes the best use out of the Vita’s extra functions that I’ve seen so far. It encourages players to be creative and gives you the opportunity to recreate the paper world in your own home. The gameplay on offer is unfortunately not as distinctive to begin with but towards the end shows us what it is really capable of. If your child owns or plays the Vita, I would definitely recommend Tearaway for them.


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