Tearaway Review

Title: Tearaway
Developer: Media Molecule
Game Type: PlayStation Vita
Download: 1.3 GB
NA Availability: 
Digital Download | Retail
EU Availability: Digital Download | Retail

There are many features available on the Vita system that not many games take advantage of.  Aside from the default buttons on the system, it sports many features that are unique and can make a playing experience unique.  The Vita has a touch screen, Rear Touch Panel, front and rear cameras, built-in microphone, tilt controls, and more.  Most games on the Vita do not use many of these features, other than the touch screen.

If you look deeper into the library, you will see that there are some games that utilize some of these features, but not all of them.  Some games use the touch screen and rear touch panel.  Some games use the cameras.  Some games use tilt controls.  However, there are rare occurrences when you see a game that uses not one or two, but all of these in the same game experience.

One game on the Vita does this.  Media Molecule, the developers of the LittleBigPlanet series strived to make a Vita game that had the LittleBigPlanet charm, but also utilized every feature the Vita had to offer.  Their goal was to make something that offers a fun and unique experience.  Something that can only be done on the Vita.  The result was Tearaway.  Here is our official review.

Story

The story of Tearaway takes place in a huge world made out of paper.  Everything, from your character, the Messenger, to the cliffs, trees, and lakes are made out of paper.  If you have ever envisioned a world with everything made as origami or similar paper-craft, that is what this world is.  It’s like a huge origami project brought to life.

You play as a being known as Iota, whom is a messenger.  All proper names aside, Iota is an envelope that has come to life with his or her own face and body.  Carrying a message inside its own head, Iota’s goal in life is to reach the You, which is you, the player.  With you as their guide, Iota’s goal is to reach the sun, where the gateway between their world and yours resides, so their message can be delivered.

The game has Iota traveling far across their world, from mountains to deep caverns, making friends and helping   the inhabitants of their world in their journey towards the Sun.  Their journey is a story in the making, as they encounter hardships from enemies known as Scraps, whom strive to keep Iota away from the Sun, along with large Wendigo monsters that are both friendly and hostile.

The story of Tearaway is very cute and charming, much like the story from LittleBigPlanet.  It’s nothing blood-pumping, but it’s enough to bring a smile to your face as you guide Iota through their world.

Gameplay

At its base, Tearaway is a 3D Platformer.  As you guide Iota throughout their world, you will be traveling through areas, jumping from platform to platform, and completing tasks to progress to the next area.  Each area is represented as a huge, 3D world of paper-made objects along with paper-made creatures and people.

Each task varies from one another.  They vary from defeating Scraps that attack you to collecting gophers to toss into a cage.  The entire point of the game is to complete goals to gain access to the next area.  Upon completing tasks, you will both earn access to new areas, but also Confetti, the game’s version of currency or money.

Confetti is used to buy upgrades and new features that will be needed for future tasks.  To complete a task, you may need to use the in-game camera to take a picture with a certain filter or to place a certain type of creation on yourself or an NPC.  All of these things are bought in the Customization menu using Confetti that you collect as you complete tasks and defeat enemies.

The Customization ranges from Iota, camera filters, and certain NPCs.  There are a few things you can do.  You can buy pre-made creations, just as different eyes, mouths, and decorations that you can put literally anywhere on Iota.  If you want to place an eye on Iota’s stomach, you can.  If you want to put a ladybug on their nose, you can.  The game will have you doing this with goals, but you can do it anytime on your own to customize your Iota.

The other side of customization is more creative.  There is a Draw and Cut feature that allows you to start with paper of various colors and you can draw shapes and, assuming the lines connect, cut them out.  These can also be used to decorate Iota, but also has other purposes.  For example, one level of the game allows you to draw a snowflake and no matter what you draw will turn into hundreds of snowflakes falling from the sky throughout the level.  There is a lot of customization available.  Some players have created Iota’s that look like other game characters, like Sly Cooper and more.

Tackling some goals will require you to use certain controls that don’t use the buttons.  Some will use the cameras, and some are more creative.  The Rear touch panel is used to use your finger and move large objects to create paths for Iota to go through.  The touch screen is also used for this for defeating certain enemies and for peeling away large pieces of paper to create new paths to use.  These paths could be created by moving walls, giving Iota a boost to their jump, or even blocking huge waterfalls in the path.

Another unique feature from the Vita that Tearaway uses is the tilt controls.  There are several platforms you will find to guide you to new areas that won’t move on their own.  When on these platforms, you need to tilt the system in the direction you wish it to move.  Navigating these is a combination of moving your system and watching for obstacles, learning how different platforms move and knowing when and where to jump to get to the next one.

Tearaway takes you through several chapters, all of which can be replayed, once you finish the main game.  Revisiting these is key for collecting Confetti you may have missed from your first time through each level, gaining trophies for getting through certain levels without having to respawn, or finishing goals that you may have missed.  One of these collectibles are papercrafts.  If you take snapshots of certain objects, you gain and can access Papercraft Plans for those objects on the Web, which you can use to download and make the objects with real paper.

All in all, Tearaway will take you about 5 hours to complete, just running through each level to get to the end.  It’s a fairly short game, but that length extends a few hours if you go back and replay the chapters to collect everything and spend time customizing Iota outside of the few things that the storyline goals have you do.  To fully complete the game, it will likely take you about 8-9 hours.

Controls

I would like to say the Controls for the game are simple and easy, though I’m not sure I can.  Tearaway will have you using every feature and button available to the Vita at different points, from the face buttons to the touch screen to the cameras.  Not all controls are available to you from the get-go as well.  For example, you use the X button to jump, Circle to Roll, and the Square, L and R buttons to grab and throw enemies.  Each of those is obtained as you progress through the game.

Moving Iota is done with the D-Pad or Left Analog Stick.  The Right Analog Stick is used to move the camera, but only in certain locations.  Some areas have angles that don’t allow free camera movement, while others do.  The Select Button is used to pull up your current Progress and Goals, and the Start Button pauses the game.

The camera trigger is done with the R button when in Camera Mode, which is triggered with the Triangle button.  Moving platforms can be done by tilting the system, or using the touch screen or Rear Touch Panel.  From a distance, the control scheme looks hard to grasp, but with tutorials around for each of them as you find them, you get used to them as you play.

Presentation

Tearaway looks very colorful and clean-cut.  The environments, parts of Iota, and other characters are full of different and bright colors and their models look very crisp.  If you look closely, you can find some jagged edges around Iota as they move from place to place.  Overall, though, the game looks colorful and vibrant.

The main issue with the presentation is the Camera.  While you have the freedom to move the camera with the Right Analog Stick, there are many situations where parts of the stages get in the way.  I had several situations, where I couldn’t see much on the screen because the camera got stuck on an object that was almost covering up half the screen.  It was a hassle to stop and play with the camera until I could get it free and to a place where I could see what was going on around.  This was especially frustrating when fighting Scraps.

Overall

All in all, Tearaway has provided gamers with a charming and cute experience that people of all ages can enjoy.  The game looks vibrant and colorful, and it provides a unique experience that can only be done on the PlayStation Vita. The camera causes issues as you play through some levels and it is a short experience, but what is there is a charming and thrilling tale of a message traveling the world to reach it’s recipient.  Any PlayStation Vita owner or fan of Media Molecule should try this game out.

The PlayStation Vita Review Network Rates Tearaway an 8.5/10. 

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