Tearaway Unfolded is a re-master of the the PS Vita game, Tearaway. In the original, you use the Vita’s unique controls to manipulate the world around the character, making things move, bounce, and come to life. The game obviously had to be remapped to better fit the DualShock 4, so let’s cut and snip and pull and curl to find out how the new game works.
The original Tearaway was a highly intimate game, allowing you to interact with the game world in a way that was so intuitive and delightful, that it couldn’t help but charm. It was an intriguing question of how Media Molecule–the Little Big Planet darlings–would translate this game onto the far more powerful PS4. And wouldn’t you know, they actually did a pretty damn good job of it.
The game’s plot is largely identical: you control Iota (or Atoi if you are playing a female character), a messenger who has a message for You, the player. It’s your job to guide the messenger through the perils of the world to bring you the message and restore peace to the lands. Peaceful lands, I’ve discovered, are terrible for holding a good story together.
Tearaway Unfolded uses just about every feature that the PS4 and the DualShock 4 have, from the touch pad, to the light bar, to the camera, and even down to the PlayStation App on your tablet or smartphone. The original game, in a mild, Drawn To Life-esque way, had you create some of the game’s art by drawing on the Vita’s touch screen. In Unfolded, you can do the same by using the DualShock 4’s touch pad. I found this method a little imprecise and clunky, however, because it was difficult to map how your finger on the pad relates to the screen. I was much happier connecting the PlayStation App and using that to draw instead, mimicking the functionality of the Vita. It was brilliant to see just how fast, smooth, and accurate drawing with the app could be. For just about everything else, there is the touchpad, from bouncing drums to creating wind to just about everything in between for manipulating the world. It felt fairly Okami-ish to me in the way the game handed you powers gently and let you explore those powers, and that’s always a wonderful thing in a game. On the other hand, the level design didn’t really encourage you to return with said powers and explore again, which I felt would have made for a superior game.
And then there’s the papercraft aesthetic—already gorgeous on the Vita—which is absolutely stunning in full HD. You can see that Media Molecule had a lot of fun putting more detail into the world, with strips of paper just about everywhere, particles of paper flying around, and enough detail to dazzle. Even the light bar’s effect in the world to light things in the dark is beautiful. I absolutely adored the sheer attention to detail in this game. And the best part? The papercraft designs that you unlock can be printed out so that you can amass your own collection of Tearaway figurines. Any Tearaway fan worth their pulp would have already done so.
As beautiful and wonderful as Tearaway: Unfolded is, there’s one horrendously serious flaw in the game: the camera. It suffers from the same problem that afflicted Alice: Madness Returns, and gets completely wonky in places. There was one point in the game where I’d gotten completely and inextricably stuck within some papercraft structure. Trying to get out was maddening, because the camera had made like the opening of Aladdin where the merchant says “too close…a little too close”. Come on, Media Molecule! So many other games have fairly intelligent cameras, why does Tearaway: Unfolded’s behave like a paranoid delusional person with a phobia of letting go?
Plainly, though, Tearaway: Unfolded is one of those games you just have to own if you have a PS4, especially if you never got the chance to play the original on the Vita. The game is beautiful, fun, and a sincere delight to play, camera woes aside. And also, if you’ve a filthy mind, you can always use the app and the touchpad to draw rude things to give to the game’s denizens. Not that I did anything as puerile as that, of course. (Ed: Of course. And I say that with about as much sarcasm as I can muster.)
Final score: 8 papercraft prawns out of 10
Developer: Media Molecule
Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment
Distributor: Ster Kinekor
Platform: PlayStation 4
Age Rating: Everyone