Tearaway is really something special. It takes all of that magic that we had with 3D platformers in the PS1 and N64 era and updates it, blending it with something entirely new in the process – a direct connection to the real world.
Even the starting dialogue speaks of how these stories have been told before and need some fresh inspiration. That inspiration comes in the form of You – a giant face looking down from the Sun, achieved through the Vita’s front camera, but that’s just the start of the way Tearaway taps into your world, and you into it.
You control either Iota or Atoi, male and female papercraft creations, who explore the world of Tearaway, while trying to reach the world of You. It’s a novel concept, and while the protagonist – I chose Iota – can’t jump on his own at first, this paves the way for some unique Vita interactivity, with a tap of the rear touch panel allowing You to bounce the character from platform to platform and progress through the levels.
It’s not just the way that Tearaway blends these worlds together, but also the way that everything in the game could be recreated with paper and some of your time that sets it apart from a standard platformer. It’s so wonderfully integrated, with everything thought through incredibly well. You’ll often find some objects in the environment devoid of colour, and taking a picture of these with the in-game camera will grant You a real papercraft print, which you can download from the Tearaway website.
You’re able to make unique creations within the game too, and at times it will require You to create a specific object or decoration with a virtual cutting board, in order to pass the task at hand. The Vita’s touch features lend themselves to this extremely well, allowing You to cut and create various shapes, merging them together to create these brilliant paper objects. It’s similar to the stickers system in LittleBigPlanet, but much more developed and personal to each user.
This means that the art style is quite unique, and many of the characters you’ll come across will move with what looks remarkably like stop-motion animation. While that may seem jarring at first, particularly when Iota and Atoi move so smoothly, it truly benefits the game’s tone, fitting in perfectly with the quirky humour present elsewhere.
And naturally, there are plenty glimpses of the environment around You too – this isn’t a game that you’ll want to play in the dark, and at times you’re even asked to take a snapshot from the real world and integrate it into the game. This lead to me dressing an Elk with a hide featuring the patterns of a Kellogg’s bowl, in just one of the many examples.
In terms of platforming gameplay, aside from all of the touching, poking and crafting that You will be doing, it’s a pretty standard affair. Once Iota collects that jump move, it becomes similar to Banjo-Kazooie and the platforming games that I grew up with, which I personally find quite endearing. It doesn’t have to get much more complex than that – there’s standard collectables, in the form of confetti, and each area so far is quite open, with multiple tasks to complete as well as a main objective, even though it’s presented linearly rather than there being a “hub” or overworld.
It just exudes charm, from the papercraft-inspired graphical style to the glimpses of the real world that you’ll see throughout, and beyond that the incredible music, which takes a few notes from Super Mario 64 and Banjo-Kazooie but evolves it into something entirely more modern and even more brilliant.
That’s just Tearaway for you – it’s not trying to replicate the classics of this genre, but evolve them with features that make use of every facet of the PlayStation Vita. It’s really something that all ages will love, as with LittleBigPlanet, and a surefire winner for Media Molecule.