Since 2008, Media Molecule has been a studio solely focused on bringing Sackboy to life in LittleBigPlanet. That handcrafted world delighted PlayStation 3 owners twice thanks to MM, and it transitioned into a kart experience and two separate portable games.
The U.K. based studio took to making a new IP for the PS Vita. Another handcrafted world, another adventure and another penchant for user involvement. Media Molecule made Tearaway, a delightful story built with augmented reality, touch inputs and virtual sheets of construction paper.
Tearaway is the tale of a letter given life as a messenger. The message is meant for you, the player, as you guide the letter through the papercraft world Media Molecule created.
A stunning display of great visuals, strong music and an interesting story make Tearaway a wonderful addition to the PS Vita library. In fact, PS Vita owners should take pride in this exclusive. It’s a joy.
That Sweet, Sweet Crumple
The biggest delight to be had in Tearaway is the papercraft environment that surrounds you. Media Molecule developed a land that looks fantastic. Papercraft trees, creatures, landscapes and objects all clearly were made in the real world as well as this virtual one. The result is an experience unlike any other.
Playing Tearaway feels like embarking on a quest over genuine construction paper. The world crumples and folds out in front of you, and there’s a real sense of joy and discovery every time a new area rips or builds in the space around you.
It feels like you’re playing in a diorama, and that’s something that is especially great on the PS Vita.
Media Molecule makes use of the rear and front touch inputs on the portable device. You can poke a hole in specific spots by pressing your finger on the back of the PS Vita, or you can unfurl a roll of paper by grabbing and pulling it on the touchscreen. As silly as it is, this gameplay device makes the world of Tearaway far more tangible than we thought it could.
As you move the messenger about the game’s space, the environment reacts the way paper should. If you stand on a slightly lifting corner, it will press down like paper, complete with a great papery sound effect.
It’s clear that this game’s environment was created with so much love and effort, and that translates to unlockables earned during play as well. You can take pictures of white objects in order to give them color. Once that happens, you’ll unlock digital papercraft plans so that you can physically cut and fold objects from Tearaway’s virtual canvas in your own home.
From Delight to Frustration
At the onset of Tearaway, moving your messenger around the space while occasionally using one of the PS Vita’s additional input methods to affect the world works fine. You’ll be introduced to new mechanics at a constant pace, be it jumping, attacking, blowing, tapping, pulling and prodding with your system.
Combat, while exceptionally simplistic, evolves enough to carry the story forward. As you engage with enemies, known as Scraps, you’ll slowly learn to dodge them, grab them, throw them, jump on them and tap them. By the end of the game, you’ll employ almost all of the title’s mechanics in order to dispatch enemies.
The controls get a little too convoluted, however, when Tearaway tries to marry all of the mechanics together at once. Towards the conclusion, perhaps the final third of the experience, you’ll tasked with touching, moving and fighting all at once. On the small device, this can be problematic.
Media Molecule needed to find a way to advance the game’s mechanics along in order to keep play interesting throughout the storyline, but the unfortunate fact of the matter is that the tower became a little too wobbly for my liking by the time the tale ended. Rather than enjoying the interesting story and basking in the wonderful late-game environments, I was more concerned with manipulating the controls to move from place to place.
Tearaway still works, mind you. It’s still a wonderful game. I just found myself a little more frustrated with its control scheme and the tasks set before me near this one’s finale. What started out as a really happy and fun experience started to show wrinkles of convolution and agitation towards the end.
…Tearaway is a blissful ride that was both well worth the wait and completely deserving of a full price purchase.
In spite of the sometimes frustrating controls, Tearaway is an absolutely wonderful experience for the PS Vita. The game’s world, storyline and feel was crafted with so much love from Media Molecule that it’s nigh impossible to play it without smiling.
The PS Vita needs more great games like this one. The portable is an attractive device, and those on the fence about it before Tearaway’s release might have a perfect excuse to leap into ownership.
From item collection to environment discovery, Tearaway is a blissful ride that was both well worth the wait and completely deserving of a full price purchase. I loved this little game, and I can’t wait to see what Sony and Media Molecule have in store for it next.
We purchased Tearaway for the PS Vita with company funds. We completed the game’s campaign before starting this review.