Tearaway is the newest gem from Media Molecule, the creators of LittleBigPlanet. This title features a story that celebrates storytelling and even manages to get you into the action. In Tearaway, you must help a little messenger named Iota (or Atoi, if female), deliver a message to the most important person in its world: you!
Remember that kids show, Teletubbies, in which a giant sun-baby-face hung overhead and brightened up the world? Yeah, you'll take over that role in Tearaway. For whatever reason, starting up Tearaway means that you just opened a window into another world. This world is full of fantastic paper creations, like animals, people, objects and whole environments. And it's all gorgeous. At the heart of Tearaway's story is the messenger, who needs to make it to the tallest point in the land in order to get close to the sun, which is coincidentally the very window you're using to look into the world. But in order to get there, the messenger will need help from a powerful being, namely you. Actually, they call humans "Yous" in Tearaway, so get ready to be revered as an almighty, benevolent figure.
So the story, while employing a simple "get the messenger from Point A to Point B" scheme, positively oozes with charm. Tearaway does an amazing job of letting you be part of the action instead of just passively playing through the game. You'll really feel as if you were helping your little messenger cross the land and tackle obstacles. All of this is thanks to Tearaway's fantastic use of the PlayStation Vita's input controls.
You'll find objects in the world that can be manipulated with both the touchscreen and the rear touchpad. An example would be some drums that can be tapped on from the rear touchpad in order to send the messenger up into the air. There are also little foil sections that you can touch and hold from the rear touchpad to make it look like your finger is bursting through the material, letting you manipulate objects inside the world of Tearaway. Other examples include ribbons you can pull on, tabs you can unfold to create new paths and even vinyl records you can spin around to move platforms. It all feels great and fosters a lot of interactivity within the world.
Along the way, your messenger will collect confetti which can be used as currency to buy customization parts. You can use these to change the messenger's look or even to help alter the appearances of non-player characters who want to look a little different. Some NPCs give you little quests that require you to change your look and force you to buy parts you might not want, but will reward you with enough confetti that you'll make it all back with a positive net gain.
Once you've got the messenger looking just right, you can take a picture with the in-game camera. Confetti can be used to buy different filters for the camera, if you feel like being all artsy, and you can even take selfies if you're so inclined. Every now and then, you'll come across a character who's completely white. Taking a picture of them will restore their color and make that character's papercrafting plans available on your very own personal Tearaway.me page. You can unlock loads of plans to print out to bring the characters of Tearaway to life (in a manner of speaking), in the real world.
And what would a game be without some villains? Baddies are present in Tearaway in the form of Scraps. These evil pieces of paper come in many forms, but always just launch themselves at the messenger or chuck spitballs. Thankfully, they're easy enough to destroy, since picking them up and throwing them at each other neutralizes them. If you happen to get hit, it's not big deal since there are infinite lives in Tearaway and you'll only be sent back to a nearby check point upon dying. Still, it's not a very difficult task to destroy Scraps since you can just pick them up when they're dizzy after launching themselves and then throwing them off a cliff.
Tearaway is one of the most charming games to hit the PlayStation Vita in a long time and it accomplishes a lot with a simple story and fun gameplay. Employing the use of the Vita's many different inputs gives it an extra dimension of fun. Media Molecule is known for pumping out games that can capture the imagination and this one definitely does not disappoint.
One of the only issues, and it's a very minor one, is that Tearaway feels a little too easy at times. There's not much of a challenge there, but at least the puzzles are fun to figure out and encountering new ways to manipulate the environment is exciting.
The addition of the Tearaway.me content is also a great bonus and should give fans plenty to do after they've put down their Vitas. If nothing else, it fosters some time together with loved ones (or liked ones), to sit down for a few hours of arts and crafts. If you've got a PlayStation Vita, Tearaway is a must-have!
This review is based on a digital copy of Tearaway for the PlayStation Vita that was purchased for review.