Here's one I made earlier
How do you go about following up the success of creating one of the most loved and inventive franchises of the generation, like LittleBigPlanet?Well, if you’re Media Molecule, you stick to the same basic genre - platformer - but switch to a host machine that offers a wealth of unique features, allowing your creativity to go unfettered; the result is a Vita game that’s as supremely charming as it is a well honed advertisement for Sony’s stuttering handheld.
If you’re looking for a story, there’s one contained within, but it’s akin to the best kind of fairytale, one that doesn’t feel compelled to adhere to any notion of sense, weaving bizarre events together in a world where anything's possible; it's unashamedly abstract.
The narrative is as much told by the insanely colourful and bizarre imagery accompanying the whimsical kazoo orchestra as anything actually written as a plot.
You control the messenger, a papercrafted figure of flat surfaces whose gender can be chosen by the player.
Like LittleBigPlanet, a narrator is used - complete with a mellifluous, though this time regional, English accent - as a subtle prompter to the key goings on in this otherwise voiceless world.
You’ll meet all manner of animals and beasts - including a variety of enemy “scraps” - on your travels through the brightly coloured world constructed from sheets of paper, and though they gabble in an unintelligible language, they all have their own personalities.
Your task is to deliver the message to the “You”, which is, well, you!
Touch my pad, this is life
Tearaway employs every tech trick in the Vita’s arsenal to draw the player into the adventure and engage them in a manner that isn’t wholly reliant on the mundane stick and buttons combo that could be tackled in a semi-comatose state. As such, the front facing camera picks out your face and integrates it into the game, turning you into a visage seen in the sun, mysterious to the inhabitants who peer up at its rays.
It’s quite a startling addition to begin with, as it breaks the fourth wall with abandon, and there’s nothing that could so easily smash an atmosphere as seeing your own fizzog staring slack-jawed and gormlessly at a screen when you’re not expecting it.
Tearaway employs every tech trick in the Vita’s arsenal to draw the player into the adventure
But that’s the point, Tearaway isn’t trying to create a world you can lose yourself in solely through the suspension of disbelief, it actively courts your participation, tasking you with different Vita-centric feats.
In terms of navigation, the basic platforming staple of jumping is complemented by a world that unfurls before you with a swipe of the finger on the capacitive screen to roll out bridges or pull down surfaces. And it’s not just the front touch screen that’s used, the oft forgotten and usually gimmick heavy rear touch pad actually finds itself utilised in a meaningful way. Certain surfaces require you to tap the pad to create a trampoline effect necessary to reach higher planes, and in yet another layering of your presence breaking into the game world, some surfaces even need their very fabric to be broken with sustained pressure on the pad, leading to a facsimile finger rising out of the screen.
If you build it...The creativity doesn’t stop there though, as the core of a papercraft universe is central to progression, and that lo-fi building blocks appeal of LittleBigPlanet is channelled into a distinctly Blue Peter mould of cut out shapes and basic artwork. The figures you meet on your travels will often have an issue that can only be rectified by you making something for them which will alter their appearance. Your view switches to a desk layout, where you choose which colour paper to draw an outline on, then cut it out with auto-scissors which will adhere to the lines. You can layer different colours and shapes, and paste the results on your messenger to make them unique, but this simple mechanic doesn’t appear game changing, more a novel distraction.
That is, until you see your creations integrated in the game, then it becomes something far more magical. Watching my botched yellow and pink polka dotted snowflakes raining down on one particularly wintery scene was the first highlight of many. Once you realise that what you’ve made will be utilised, your artistic oeuvre will take on a far more dedicated outlook than “that’ll do”, making you actually care.
It’s a world full of invention that asks you to invest some time and effort. It’s far more accessible and simplistic in the options available to you than LittleBigPlanet, but then it’s a far more targeted game. It aims to find the quickest route to uncovering your creative leanings, and never fails to congratulate you for doing so.
Short and sweetThis lack of long term depth makes the need for collectibles seem crucial, and there are items to find in every level, unlocked in a variety of ways; you’ll find most on your first play through, but certainly not all, and the bookmark feature allowing you to go to previous stages proves very handy. The in-game currency of confetti which is collected everywhere can be used to unlock new features, like shapes and even lenses for your surprisingly well equipped camera.
It almost feels churlish to even mention longevity as a possible issue - in the same vein the camera suffers the usual viewpoint missteps - as the core game is so downright exuberant and infectious in its happy-go-lucky appeal as to make it hard to criticise. Tearaway isn’t grand, but it’s a series of little touches that highlight the care and attention that’ve gone into its making; instances like an elk asking you to photograph a pattern for its coat. Simple enough, and a neat little use of the Vita’s camera, but then when you meet another elk with the same markings which jibes nonchalantly “well what can I say, she set a trend” you realise that no opportunity to add warmth and possibly raise a smile has been missed, and that’s rare.
- Bursting with charm
- Engages through user creativity
- Care free and accessible
- Great use of Vita tech
- Fun characters to meet
Papering over the cracks
- Short, with limited replay value
- The odd camera issue
Tearaway Vita ReviewIf ever there was a game designed for Christmas, this is it. It uses all the tricks in the Vita toolbox and does so without shoehorning them in in a sterile or gimmicky manner, integrating them and you in the process.
Tearaway exudes charisma, with an art style that ties in with a unique paper-centric gameplay motif, and proves every inch as accessible as LittleBigPlanet. If anything, the game outdoes the adventures of Sackboy in all but the complexity of the user creations that are possible, but as a result Tearaway comes across as more focused and immediately gratifying. You don’t complete stages to acquire anything other than sheer enjoyment.
Our Review Ethos
To comment on what you've read here, click the Discussion tab and post a reply.