I don’t know what it is about Media Molecule, and their ability to craft some of the most endearing worlds ever created. Despite my minor issues with LittleBigPlanet, I didn’t stop playing for months [years] on end, because I couldn’t get enough of Sackboy and his universe.
In that same vein, Molecule’s Tearaway is an absolutely lovely game. I just wish there was more of it.
In Tearaway, you are “You.” No really! You play the role as the benevolent god “You,” and look down upon the game’s world and its inhabitants. This is accentuated by the clever use of the Vita’s front facing camera, which is constantly recording you and placing you in the game’s sun in the sky.
Shortly after the introduction to the realm you’ll be lording over, the adorable protagonist makes its appearance — in the form of either Atoi (female) or Iota (male). You’ll start off fighting Scraps (the game’s enemies) by tapping the back of the Vita, which causes your actual fingers to rip through the game’s paper-thin world. It’s at this very moment that I bought into Tearaway‘s premise, causing an immediate smile that lasted nearly the entire game.
From here, the game slowly ramps up into a traditional platformer. Eventually, you’ll gain the ability to jump and throw enemies around, but for the most part, Tearaway maintains its touch-screen identity and wears it like a badge of honor. All of the Vita’s functions work wonderfully, from tapping the screen to bang on some drums, to flicking enemies off of your OLED that happen to become pressed up against the “glass.”
Typical platforming sections dot the game’s levels, but they do work — and well, I might add. Everything has a purpose, and since the narrative feels custom tailored around everything that you’re doing, Media Molecule really sells the premise. It also helps that the art style and the soundtrack work perfectly in unison.
Your ultimate quest is to reach the Sun (You), but you’ll often times just stop to smell the roses, explore, and so some favors for your fellow citizens. At no time do any of these feel like typical fetch quests or snore-fests, because the game’s cast is so delightful that you’ll quickly forget any shred of monotony involved. Said adventures may involve the highly eccentric deed of playing basketball with a bunch of squirrels, or “saving” certain creatures and objects from their pale, monochrome color schemes with your camera.
The camera in particular deserves a special mention, as you can not only take pictures of the world around you (including self-portraits), but you can also use it as a way to earn more real life papercraft projects, by way of connecting your in-game progress to Media Molecule’s servers. Everything in the game from tapping the front and back touchpad to finding new real life projects connects you to the game’s world, which is an incredibly impressive feat.
Given how good Tearaway really is, all I can think about is how much more I would have liked to have seen from it. Not only was I longing for more content in the form of new levels and papercraft creations, but I couldn’t help but think of how amazing a multiplayer component could have been. With the right design and the coupling of a PlayStation 4 Atoi/Iota and a Vita You, Tearaway could have been one of the most interesting co-op games of all time. As it stands, you’ll basically saturate all of the sidequests will little effort.
Although it’s a very brief adventure that isn’t filled out quite as much as I would have hoped, Tearaway is a must-buy for all PlayStation Vita owners. It shows off the hardware’s many flourishes perfectly, and couples it with a solid foundation to boot. Tearaway was a delight from start to finish, and I hope this isn’t the last we’ve seen of Atoi and Iota.
This review is based on a physical copy of Tearaway for the PlayStation Vita.