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Tearaway review

AT A GLANCE
  • Utterly lovely, well designed world
  • Fantastic use of Vita’s technology
  • Makes the player feel part of the game
  • It’s inexpensive…
  • …but it’s very short, and easy
  • Vita’s inputs occasionally lack precision

You are the star of Tearaway. Yes, you. No other modern game puts the player so squarely in the centre of everything it does. It isn’t just the story that focuses on you--the tale of a paper messenger called Iota, delivering a missive to the person holding the PS Vita--it’s everything. From controls to customisation to characters: everything is about you. It’s a bold, utterly inspired ploy by LittleBigPlanet creators Media Molecule, and the result is one of the most beguiling games ever made. It wants to delight you (yes, you, again) with every interaction and--for the most part--it succeeds admirably. 

Tearaway’s world is infused with the same homespun charm as LittleBigPlanet, however, instead of cloth and sponge, everything here is made of paper and glue. The texture of the landscape is hugely important, because it dictates the way you interact with the game. Pushing your finger against the Vita’s rear touchpad, for example, lets you poke a virtual finger through the paper floor and into Iota’s world. Stroking the front screen, to give another example, allows you to unfurl curled-up scraps of paper, creating bridges across otherwise uncrossable chasms.

Every gimmick and gizmo in Vita’s arsenal is employed at some point. At the very start of the game, the camera is used to live-stream your face (yes, your face) into the centre of Tearaway’s paper sun. All the characters in the game look up at your visage in amazement, and it’s at this point Iota is told to deliver his message to ‘the You’ in the sun. After that, both touchpads, tilt, microphone, camera, d-pad, face-buttons, and even Wi-Fi are used to help you guide Iota to this rather self-referential goal. It’s a fantastic showcase for the capabilities of the machine, and none of the features feel forced.

The net result is a game that defies traditional classification because you interact with it in so many ways. Sure, there are platforming elements--which are actually the least enjoyable sections of the game, as the camera angle occasionally makes leaps more awkward than they need to be--but the majority of the fun lies in creating your own items, solving puzzles, and exploring the game’s various hub worlds for collectables.

Tearaway really makes me feel warmest and fuzziest inside (yes, me, a man who openly confesses to never understanding Nintendo, and who is most at home when he’s shooting other men in the face in Battlefield 4) when I’m being asked to draw and cut-out a crown to stick on a squirrel’s head, using Vita’s touch-screen. I put little jewels on the crown and everything.

My only gripe with the ‘crafting’ options in game is that they’re a little limited. At one point you’re asked to draw and cut-out a snowflake. Once produced, your snowflakes (the one you shaped like a penis, because you could) gently fall from the sky during the course of an entire snow-themed level. It’s a wonderful moment but, sadly, it’s a rarity--the rest of the game limits customisation to sticking random items on in-game characters, taking photos of textures, or creating decorations to slap onto Iota him/herself. Tearaway lacks some of the real player-created wow-factor that made LittleBigPlanet such a phenomenon.

It’s a little short too. The game lasts around 5 hours, even if you’re carefully hunting for hidden presents and papercraft items, and dying at any point really is a non-event. Fell off a ledge? Oh well, just try the jump again. Looking for a hidden present? Oh, it’s just around the corner, off-camera. Fair enough--Tearaway would lose much of its charm if it hammered players with brutal platforming and stern puzzles, but I did find myself wishing for more complexity as I played through.

However, the low price really balances out concerns about length. It’s £20/$40, which is great value for something that gives every aspect of your Vita a workout while making you smile the whole time. Will you play through more than once? Probably not, unless you’re hunting for papercraft items. Ooh, that reminds me… Value is extended a little further if you log in to Tearaway.me, which--among other things--lets you download papercraft designs that you’ve collected in-game. Yes, you can actually make every character from Tearaway in real paper, and sit them proudly on your desk / mantelpiece / fireplace. Hmm, actually, best not sit them on your fireplace…

Tearaway really is the game Vita has been crying out for. It feels like a bridge between indie and traditional, super-polished AAA game design, something reinforced by both the length of the story and the price. There’s genuine charm and ingenuity here, and my only real criticism is that I want more of it. So will you, when you put yourself in the centre of Tearaway’s magical world.

More Info

Release date: Nov 22 2013 - PS Vita (US)
Oct 25 2013 - PS Vita (UK)
Available Platforms: PS4, PS Vita
Genre: Adventure
Published by: Sony Computer Entertainment
Developed by: Media Molecule
ESRB Rating:
Rating Pending

A wonderful, charming showcase for what your Vita can do. It’s a short game, but there’s plenty of fun packed in for your £20 / $40.

Topics

review

18 comments

  • awesomesauce - November 20, 2013 2:32 p.m.

    i curious, when you poke your hand through the screen, is it always a white finger?
  • GR_RyanTaljonick - November 20, 2013 3:56 p.m.

    Every time I did it, it came through white.
  • awesomesauce - November 20, 2013 6:15 p.m.

    lol, i wonder if that's because it saw that when it viewed your face or if it's just the only color finger
  • Cyberninja - November 20, 2013 9:13 a.m.

    Seeing as $40 is normal price, I wouldn't really call it a deal but in any case my Vita needs some love and this might be the games I need for it but it seems like the best original games for the system(ones that are new and unique) are all really short with both Tearaway and Gravity Rush being around 5 hours long, Sony might want to fix that at some point, or the best games will be able to be experienced just by borrowing your buddys vita for a week.
  • Vonter - November 20, 2013 8:50 a.m.

    Sorry for that my hand slipped. I find it funny and odd how the franchises that get popular on the PSP and now Vita are games that are not technical wonders, but artistics ones. Patapon, Loco Roco, Sound Shapes, LBP and now this. Seems a bit ironic considering it was competing with Nintendo at being a more powerful hardware.
  • shawksta - November 20, 2013 7:22 a.m.

    Awesome, this game deserves it
  • winner2 - November 20, 2013 7:11 a.m.

    I'm glad to see this. It sounds fun.
  • mafyooz - November 20, 2013 1:34 a.m.

    This is one of the few titles that would tempt me towards getting a Vita, although plastering my face on it would probably break the poor damn screen....
  • hestar - November 20, 2013 1:24 a.m.

    Also, 30? my pre order says 40 on amazon.
  • GR_AndyHartup - November 20, 2013 8:22 a.m.

    Wow - it's only £20 in the UK, which is about $30. Seems unfair. I'd still recommend it for $40.
  • hestar - November 20, 2013 10:09 a.m.

    Yeah I'm still going to get it,even at 40,after reading the review I'm pumped to play it and dust the vita off and play a game on it :)
  • mafyooz - November 20, 2013 11:09 a.m.

    Really? That makes a bit of a change, it's usually us in the UK that get shafted on comparative prices
  • GR_AndyHartup - November 20, 2013 11:46 p.m.

    Yeah, it's very unusual for the UK to get the better deal on games. But with Tearaway, this is the case.
  • hestar - November 20, 2013 1:23 a.m.

    Very awesome.this month is so packed with great stuff it's like xmas came early!
  • BladedFalcon - November 20, 2013 12:37 a.m.

    Nice! About time the Vita got another worthwhile exclusive, and one that looks pretty original and charming. Still not nearly enough to make me want to buy one, but it could open the floodgates for other developers to actually try and do something with the system... Unlikely, but one can hope.
  • Vonter - November 20, 2013 8:47 a.m.

    I
  • Vonter - November 20, 2013 8:52 a.m.

    *Hand to forehead* Look for my new post. In the reply my hand slipped and in the new one I didn't click the reply button. *:$*
  • GR_RyanTaljonick - November 20, 2013 8:55 a.m.

    Having also played through it, I agree with everything this review says. It's SUPER good (although a tad bit too easy).

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