Tearaway Unfolded is inherently a strange game. Not due to the weird and wonderful papercraft world in which it takes place but because it’s part sequel, part remake, and more of a PS4 reimagining of the original PS Vita game than anything else. That’s something we haven’t seen much of before, but if anyone can pull it off, it’s Media Molecule.
You’ll still find the same environments, but these have undergone some changes – Maple Fields is now around 50% larger, featuring more side content, and if you venture into the barn, you’ll find a whole new array of platforming challenges and sections, which naturally use the features of the DualShock 4 rather than the PS Vita.
But before you get to all of that, the first thing that you’ll notice is how incredible the game looks; the developers’ vision is fully realised here, with the papercraft world delightfully animated and full of colour. The limited depth of field takes this further than ever before, making it seem like a miniature, handcrafted world, rendered in full 1080p and at 60 frames per second, with a stop motion effect present throughout.
Tearaway Unfolded is being built from the ground up for the PS4’s architecture, and although this means that certain things are noticeably different, many things – such as the tone of the music, area names, and the cutting board creation system – remain the same. This should hopefully mean that they’re able to build on sections which fell short before, rather than trying to follow them up with something not as fun.
Not that Tearaway ever really fell short of its mark, but the end section of the barn – where you meet that spooky pumpkin who’s lost his body – has been rebuilt to add much more of a creepy tone. The level has been plunged into darkness and filled with bats, the only light source coming into the game from the light bar on the controller, which you can move around using gyro controls to help guide the way or even light candles within the game world.
It’s quite well done, and again the characters are aware of your presence, as the player. The Messenger will effectively work co-operatively with you to progress, while other characters may interact too, with some seeing the light shining into the game as a godly force and kneeling down to pray. It’s a meta, humorous approach to the game, and ups the immersion for you in what is quite an outlandish world.
Continuing this trend, The Messenger will be able to throw items out of their world and into your controller, only so you can throw them back, as if you’re playing a light gun game. You’ll be able to shake the controller around and hear what’s inside, be it an acorn for hitting switches, or even a squirrel, which will chirp away. It’s a novel, creative idea which mimics the ingenuity found in the PS Vita version without the need for a touch screen.
There is a focus on the touch pad too. This can be used at times to create gusts of wind within the game which will send enemies flying away, letting you live out your dreams of becoming a godly force. You can also open trapdoors and activate touch pads, again replacing similar commands with the Vita’s touch pad.
Technical improvements due to the PS4’s hardware have allowed the developers to place many more objects in the game, with one section featuring “more cauliflowers than you could ever want” and the harbour area now more than twice the size, with a large area of water and even a beautiful paper townscape. With the world being bigger, there will need to be quicker ways to get around and this is where the paper plane comes into things.
The Messenger can fly around on this at speed, quickly traversing the open area of the harbour, and it feels like a much less linear experience as a result. There are some impressive set pieces, and allusions to Moses, in the way that you can split the tides to cross the large section of water. Here’s where you really notice how much of a visual improvement there is, and it’s really just awe-inspiring at times.
Ultimately, Tearaway is a single player game with elements which make it feel like a co-operative adventure between the player and player character, but the developers did suggest that they were looking into allowing other local players to influence the world, such as controlling the wind. There’s also talk of some new sharing options, and PS Vita compatibility where you can trade your creations and unlock more content. It’s all very vague at the moment – with a release a while away yet – but these things could take Tearaway Unfolded above and beyond what we’ve seen before.