Playstation Vita has been off to a slow start, some might argue, with many games being ports, remakes, or the indie games we already played last year on PC. It boasts strange hardware features like a rear touch pad, two cameras facing inwards and outwards, and a touch screen. The Vita boasts a host of hardware features that go unused, but Tearaway is one of the few games to challenge that notion.
Part of the wonder of Tearaway is in the mysteries of the world that literally unfold themselves as you progress. You play as Iota, a small messenger whose head resembles that of an envelope, with a very important story to deliver. Another integral character you meet is called The You. The You is where you become a part of the game in a way that no other game has done before. Utilizing the Vita’s internal camera, you are a main cast member in this construction paper-laden fantasy world. Much of this game consists of breaking the barrier between player and game, which is where most of the magic is instilled. Instead of hoping to meet new characters, you lie in wait and wonderment for when the next time your favorite cast member will show up: You.
The world is a love letter to the papercraft hobby. All across the world, you’re folding obstacles to make them easier to traverse, tapping your enemies when they’re vulnerable, puncturing through weaker points with your fingers on the rear touch pads, and so much more. If the devil is in the details, then send me and Tearaway to hell, because this game has some of the most finitely detailed environments I’ve seen in a game. As you walk along the water, small construction paper ripples lay a shadow on the water below. As you climb a summit, construction paper strands whiz by to signify the wind. In fact, each single little part of the world is made of construction paper. It’s easy to forget how beautiful a game is after becoming desensitized from the initial amazement most graphical styles begin you with, but Tearaway constantly challenges itself to be riskier, bolder, and more beautiful around each and every corner. In turn, it results in the most beautiful game on the system to date, and quite a standard to beat for its competitors.
The most impressive aspect of Tearaway is the flawless utilization of the touch screen and rear touch pad that the Vita has yet to see. You tap enemies when they’re vulnerable, expand environmental obstacles that once seemed unreachable, among other quirky uses. What you may have thought of as a gimmick will quickly change your views. When I say it uses everything the system has to offer, I mean everything. White silhouetted figures show up across the world, but using your in game camera to reveal their color, and unlock a papercraft model to be printed out and used in real life.
That is part of the magic in Tearaway that makes it hard to talk about. It isn’t just trying to work its way into your world, it is. You’ll take pictures of your room, your face, and different expressions in order to cater to the environment. A traveller wishes he had a hat, so you draw him one, cut the construction paper, and give it to him. This mechanic, which implements your own stylings into the game, is one of the most amazing parts of this game. You can spend your confetti, which is scattered across the world, on items and facial features on Iota, or you can simply cut some construction paper and design his full wardrobe and face using that. You’ll lose yourself in trying to make the perfect wardrobe, and once you do, it’s so rewarding to see your changes in action.
It’s a short game, but contained in its story is more than enough value for your money. If you’re looking for post game content, you can go to collect presents, confetti, and other random collectibles around the world, but aside from trophies, there’s not much reason to go back.
Tearaway isn’t just a touch screen platformer. It’s one of the most clever uses of technology used in a video game, one of the most uniquely styled video games, and one of, if not the happiest game you will play all year. It’s simple on the surface, but as the story unfolds, and the systems all come into play, Tearaway‘s true magic will reveal itself.
Tearaway was developed by Media Molecule and published by Sony Computer Entertainment. A Vita copy of the game was provided by the publisher for review purposes.