It's been a while since I've been charmed by a video game like Tearaway. Being a gamer that spends most of his time in shooty science-fiction opuses cute platform games don't always hold the same attraction that they used to.
Tearaway is different. Media Molecule has made their name on taking the platform game and finding new and innovative ways to play with the genre to create brand new experiences and even give players the chance to craft their own.
As LittleBigPlanet changed the way we view platform games and user-generated content on the PS3, Tearaway introduces a beautiful new perspective on platform adventures putting players into an adventure that is holds true tor their uniquely creative perspective.
As Tearaway begins players are introduced to Iota, a messenger with a special message that he/she must deliver to you, the player. You watch the events unfold as a face in the sun watching over Iota's adventures and helping him through his difficult journey. The game even goes so far as to make use of the Vita's front-facing camera to project your face into the game in real time.
I say 'him' because that's what I chose for him to be. Throughout the game you get a chance to customise Iota using confetti shapes that you collect along the way to unlock new artwork.
Everything about Tearaway screams creativity. Walk through the world that is created from some spectacular papercraft and you will encounter characters that will require you to craft something for them or for yourself.
Early on the King of the Squirrels asks you to make him a crown as his has gone missing. The game drops into a craft mode with a virtual cutting mat for making your own paper creations along with a selection of different coloured paper.
It's all done via the touchscreen. There's a pencil tool to allow you to trace out shapes, an eraser if you go wrong and a scissor tool for which automatically cuts the paper out along the lines you've drawn. You can even create items using multiple layers of paper which are easily shuffled around and resized using two-finger controls borrowed from smartphones.
Create something nice enough and Iota is even equipped with a camera which can be used at any time in the game to take pictures of Iota's surroundings, characters he encounters and even the odd selfie. There's an array of different lenses and filters available to unlock using confetti again as a currency.
As a very nice touch there are items hidden around the game world that have no colour. Taking photographs of these pure white objects gives them their colour back and unlocks them as a papercraft pattern that can be downloaded and printed out via the Tearaway.me website. There's over 30 to collect and it brings a whole new level of tangibility to the game.
It's not the only time touch controls play a part in the gameplay though. There's tabs to pull and platforms to push using the touchscreen. There's trampolines and even places where you can poke your finger up into the screen using the rear touchpad.
These control methods push Tearaway from being just another 3D platformer. It can prove to be a bit awkward from time-to-time but the sheer charm has you playing through these moments to find another magical new area.
One of the neatest moments in the game comes later on when a second Iota appears in a ball and you must guide your Iota as normal using the thumbsticks and the second Iota by tilting the Vita around to navigate the level. It can prove a tad fiddly but it's one of the most interesting uses of the PS Vita's many control options that any developer has implemented.
From a technical perspective Tearaway is impressive making use of every tool that the Vita has to offer but it's the way the game is tied together with beautiful artwork and quirky storytelling that sets the game apart from anything else that's available on and console at the moment, portable or otherwise.
Media Molecule has created a wonderful interactive world for Tearaway. It's a magical place for players to exist in more ways than just a button pusher. From the wonderful use of touch controls to the ability to recreate some of the game's beautiful papercraft creations in real life really brings the game to like in a way that has never been done before.
Tearaway is not just a charming platform adventure, it's an almost perfect example of how the PS Vita can bring brand new levels of interactivity for gamers. If there ever was a reason to own a PS Vita it is this, pure and simple.