Tearaway stole my heart on the PS Vita back in 2013, with relentless hours spent until I reached that awe inspiring platinum trophy to proudly display on my virtual shelf. Needless to say, the instant I learnt of Tearaway Unfolded I pounced at the opportunity to get my crafty hands all over it. Unfolding its way onto the PlayStation 4, can Media Molecule take its papercraft to the next level? The answer is yes, and how!
Game: Tearaway Unfolded
Developer: Media Molecule
Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment Europe
Reviewed on: (Review copy provided by publisher)
Tearaway is (in my opinion) what brought the PS Vita to life, what it was made for and needless to say was the main influence for my purchase of the handheld back in 2013. It made use of every unique feature the system had to offer, from the front facing camera projecting your face into the sun to the rear touch pad allowing you to poke and ‘tearaway’ at its very foundations. Nothing else seemed to match up to the experience Tearaway offered on the PS Vita, in fact it seems so inseverable that you may wonder how on earth such a thing can transition over to the PlayStation 4. As a huge fan of the original, I too was anxious to see if the intimate experience and unique interactions could be crafted into the new system, so let me put you at ease. Just one swipe of the touch pad and I was blown away, again!
Now for those of you who sadly missed out on this PS Vita exclusive before, prepare yourself for the most immersive experience you have had yet. For those like me who have already experienced this peculiar world, you may be questioning if you should take the leap and if there is anything new on offer. Tearaway Unfolded, due to its nature is not a straight port or remaster, neither is it a sequel. Your story follows the adventure of either Atoi or Iota, depending on your preference. This adorable and plucky messenger must traverse through the perilous lands, overcoming many obstacles and making new discoveries and friends in order to deliver a very special message to you, the button pusher, the You with a capital as you are known to these paper folk. However they are not the only star of the show. That’s right, you also take centre stage! You must help guide them to that big hole in the sky, the rift between our two worlds as allies against the invading Scraps! The clever folks at Media Molecule have torn down that fourth wall with ingenuitive mechanics that fully immerse you in the experience. You are not simply playing through a story, you are the story! The tale has been re-envisioned, with locales mixed up and expanded with seamless transitions at 60fps and 1080p graphics delivered by the PS4, offering lovingly crafted, vivid environments bursting with detail in every nook and cranny. The coastal town Sogport goes beyond its previous horizon, with a vast, stormy sea and distant islands and The Lab offers new tenebrous caverns and scientifically baffling sections to name a few. There is an abundance of detail that will have you exploring to the ends of the earth, remaining on high alert for the tiniest of details until the end that you may very well end up glued to your screen. If that was not enough then the musical score is sure to delight with its folk and pop influences that certainly help reflect the changing moods of the story.
I could talk about the depth of detail and beauty until I’m blue in the face, however I will leave the many wonders to your imagination until you experience the game yourself (which I most certainly hope do!). Much more than the aesthetics, what I am most excited to share is the gameplay itself, which believe me is the most fun (and possibly frustrating) experience the PS4 has seen thus far. It has to be said that Media Molecule are the masters of the DualShock 4! You may believe that the functionalities the controller offers are gimmicky and will never be used and you would be right if we were talking about any other game. Tearaway Unfolded has reinvented the mechanics of the PS Vita, utilising all aspects the PS4 can offer in a way like no other. On the surface it may appear to be a fun action and adventure game, which whilst that is true this comes secondary to the puzzling nature Tearaway Unfolded thrusts upon you. Do not let the cute papercrafts and bold colours fool you or you could find yourself in a pickle. You will need to use all your wit and be able to think outside the box if you want to master this game. Your aim is to help Atoi or Iota reach You in the sky and to do this you will need to run, jump and fly against the scraps menacing interventions. This is where that fourth wall is gloriously torn down. If you happen to own a PlayStation Camera then you can literally find yourself (if positioned correctly) right in the game, peering down at those paper dwellers like a god (which they do in fact revere you as). Not only does it use your face but your voice as well, as you can record your bellowing voice to strike fear into things or alert the denizens of your presence. Understandably, not everyone will have a PlayStation Camera so you may wonder will this hamper your personal experience? The answer is both yes and no. Whilst the PS Vita constantly plastered your face in the sky, sadly with no camera you will not appear at all in vision or sound. However there is no need to feel disheartened as the DualShock 4 controls are what make the gameplay so unique and put you in action.
All of the unique and godlike powers at your disposal are slowly introduced relatively early in the story and are clearly explained. The first new mechanic you are introduced to is the power of light. This I must say is an ingenious use of the controller. Utilising the light bar pointed at the screen, you can illuminate your dark surroundings, make plants sprout, and eradicate the black and white newspaper the scraps have plastered over everything. This light also happens to be the same shape as the light bar itself. Perhaps the most fun use for the light is its hypnotic properties. As a new way of dealing with the Scraps, you can hypnotise them to induce friendly fire, lure them down holes or indeed send them off a cliff. (Didn’t anyone tell them not to follow the light?) The touch pad has probably never seen so much action until now and will be the button your finger is most glued to. The touch pad has a plethora of uses, including squashing Scraps and jumping and bouncing off drums and anything else with a distinctive spotty pattern. There are however three unique uses for this.
Another power at your disposal is Changing Wind which will be your best friend throughout, more so than the Squeeze Box from the original that also makes an appearance. Calling forth gusts of wind by stroking the touch pad in any direction can send Scraps flying, displace obstacles and hold up paper to create safe passage. The wind can also send you soaring through the sky on paper planes, a new and exhilarating way to reach new heights and destinations. Out of all the new interactions this following one is by far my favourite! You may have noticed all those squirrels playing catch and thought “If only I could play catch too”. Well your prayers have been answered. You and Atoi/Iota can work together to send any of number of things hurtling towards an obstacle or their doom. Atoi/Iota can throw things out of the TV towards you and by tilting the controller upwards you can simulate catching them in your hands, well into the controller anyhow. From here you can do a number of things, you can leave a Scrap imprisoned for a while before throwing them back into their world with a swipe of the touch pad or throw rocks to break through a target. If you are so inclined (trust me you will be tempted) you can even pet the little critters you throw in there as if they were on your lap, which in doing so releases small squeaks of glee from the speaker from whatever lies inside (lets say a gopher, don’t judge). It is not just the controls that tear down that fourth wall, but the narrative and interactions themselves. Now I wont spoil anything here because these special moments are so unexpected that I was left shouting “Oh wow” at my TV screen whilst bouncing around in excitement with the widest grin on my face.
Now a big part of Tearaway Unfolded is the customisation of not only you but the world and its inhabitants. On the PS Vita you would simply cut out from square coloured pieces of paper by gliding your finger over the touch screen. Of course this is not possible on the PS4 which is where the touch pad comes in. This more or less works the same, where gliding your finger over the touch pad will create paper in whichever form you trace. The downside to this however is its small surface area which may prove tricky, especially if your a perfectionist. Luckily there is the Companion App which can be accessed on a Smart Device or the PS Vita using the PlayStation App’s second screen functionality. I opted for this option in most instances as the larger screens made the cutting process far easier. The app can be used by yourself or a friend for extra fun, where you can cut out or even take photos to project into the game and personalise the world to your own liking. Throughout your journey you may stumble upon many side quests, which may involve decorating inhabitants. Other tasks and a fun hobby, especially for keen photographers is taking pictures using the camera you acquire. This amongst other things uses the controllers gyroscope controls to move it around. You can even take selfies thanks to the tripod and even here it seems you can’t avoid photobombing. Just think of this feature as the Instagram of the Tearaway world. For those who love a good animated GIF, thanks to a new filter, amongst others you can now capture them in game so don’t be surprised if the internet is overtaken with them after release!
Tearaway Unfolded surpassed all my expectations. It blew my mind and then some. I thought the PS Vita version was inspired, but this completely smashed it out of the park! Boundaries were demolished and several moments filled me with unexpected glee. Media Molecule has created a platforming masterpiece, one that features touching characters and some genuinely heart warming moments. I loved every single moment of the 15 hours I spent with it, even with increased difficulty compared to the PS Vita version. Working out the game’s puzzle and unravelling its secrets was a complete joy. I had light bulb moments aplenty, and I’m sure many of you will too. There’s so much here to enjoy, for everyone. Whether you’ve played the PS Vita version or are new to the series, Tearaway Unfolded is a must buy. Trust me, you will fall in love. I did.