Get those sticker fingers ready, because Media Molecule is back to remind ‘The You’ just how cute everything is when made of craft supplies.
I’m going to cut right to the chase: Tearaway is arguably the first game in the Vita’s brief existence to properly implement the device’s tactile and camera functionality. I’m uncertain why it took nearly two years to do so, but thankfully we’ve come a long way from the disaster that was launch title Little Deviants.
To understand Media Molecule’s Tearaway, is to picture their LittleBigPlanet but in a world comprised entirely of paper versus yarn and string. Similar platform elements plus weighted physics, likewise ridiculous cutesy factor that would make a unicorn consider upchucking rainbows from all the hugginess.
Unlike LittleBigPlanet, however, Tearaway is a lot more accessible to wider audiences, and doesn’t get bogged down in the customization of environments and characters as core gameplay elements. Instead, Tearaway inserts drawing, stickers, and side tasks as part of storyline development, one that does a solid job of always keeping things both fun and interesting. Tearaway’s world is also enormous. While linear in order of appearance, levels are very large. It becomes borderline addictive to roam through levels in search of the next clever surprise.
A big part of Tearaway’s success is the splendid use of the Vita’s camera and both front and rear touch surfaces. The Vita’s front camera literally places the user (‘The You’) in the middle of the action, a constantly funny and interactive way of telling Iota/Atoi’s story. Touchscreen elements are equally strong, extremely responsive to environmental interaction, and near-perfectly implemented to open items, move objects, and launch the protagonist to new heights. They also do an admirable job of mirroring the feeling of ‘pushing’ through paper.
Combined, these turn Tearaway into a storytelling experience versus a standard third person platformer, and with it an infectious joy that literally had me smiling near-constantly. Seeing your face literally within the sun and having characters reference your presence never gets old. Iota/Atoi also control very well using the left stick, the supporting cameras (via right stick) thankfully devoid of the unintelligent tracking so prevalent in this gaming genre.
Graphically, Tearaway probably could’ve used a bump, as the game doesn’t offend in presentation but is certainly nothing exemplary. I felt Media Molecule did a fantastic job in conveying surfaces and textures in LittleBigPlanet. Unfortunately, the same can’t be said about Tearaway’s bland paper look nor attention to wind, water, or sister paper environmental nemeses. Sound is terrific in voiceovers (a Media Molecule staple), music whimsical but not truly catchy.
Presentation quibbles, however, do not dampen the experience; Tearaway may be the first must purchase for a Vita owner of any age. Tearaway maximizes the platform to its fullest, likewise is the rare title that is simply fun to play. It’s a wonderful example of what happens when a game’s goal is to engage the player versus the other way around. [8.9]
Similar Games: LittleBigPlanet PSP (8.9) | LittleBigPlanet 2 (9.4)