Review

Tearaway Review

  • Game release: November 22, 2013
  • Reviewed: November 20, 2013
  • VITA

Virtual becomes reality.

by

Tearaway is about blending the real and digital worlds, pulling down the boundaries that separate us from what we're playing. To that end, you're not just a gamer when you're playing Tearaway; you're a godlike presence, representing both the ultimate goal and the protagonist.

In essence, then, you play two roles. One of those roles is as a sentient envelope on a mission. Your first decision is to take the reins of either the male envelope Iota or the female envelope Atoi. (Note the playful spelling trick.) Iota or Atoi becomes the protagonist, the driving force behind the narrative and the personality that other characters interact with. No matter which one you choose, the end goal is the same. Reach the sun--that's all you have to do. The twist is that the sun is you. Yes, you, the player.

From the outset, Tearaway is beautiful to look at.

Through the magic of the PS Vita's front camera, your face appears within the outline of the sun and becomes the visual embodiment of the second of your two roles. You smile; sun smiles. You frown; sun frowns. You point your Vita at your dog; sun becomes a dog. An ugly visage (in your case, perhaps less ugly) intruding and bearing down on the papercraft environment causes a bit of an understandable stir, so Iota (or Atoi) sets out to find the meaning behind and origin of the thing from another world.

And thus begins an adventure of surprising depth given the paper-thin building blocks. The immediate pull of Tearaway is the quality and charm of the visuals, sucking you in to what is a traditional 3D platformer at heart. Every element used to create every level, character, and collectible could realistically be made for real with only coloured paper, scissors, and a stick of glue. Not only is this playful aesthetic inviting, but it fundamentally enhances the link between the digital and the real.

Is there another game in which you take the role of the sun?

Much of what is present can be customised to suit your own tastes and mood. Some form of customisation was always to be expected given developer Media Molecule's Little Big Planet roots, but the approach here is very different. While the Sackboy experience concentrated on the large-scale creation of worlds and even entire game experiences, Tearaway takes the approach of letting you customise rather than build. Your hero's appearance, for example, can be altered as frequently and as wildly as you like. This can be achieved using either the preset shapes or the virtual paper-cutting tools that allow you to design your own elements from scratch, layering sheets of coloured paper to create more complex and more colourful objects. Additionally, you're frequently asked to design the look of many of the game's more important items and lead characters.

Every form of interaction is executed with skill and expert pacing, and never does one element outstay its welcome.

One early section sees you riding an energetic pig through a valley--an everyday task for many, I'm sure, apart from the fact that the pig can be altered before you start. Give it four eyes, a Santa Claus beard, and an oversized crown of gold and gems, or simply give it fangs. A hedonist pig... a vamporker... nothing is out of bounds. Remember that you're not just the protagonist; you're the god of this world, and a pig will look how you want it to look. Your all-powerful status extends to gameplay that makes full and excellent use of the Vita's unique features. Many past Vita games have failed to implement the handheld's touch capabilities and tilt functions in any meaningful way. Thankfully, Tearaway never feels gimmicky or anything less than an excellent example of incorporated design.

Miracle of science: water made from paper.

Like the visuals, the touch and tilt controls only serve to more thoroughly break down the barriers between our world and that of our handicraft hero. Tapping on the rear touchpad allows you to poke virtual fingers through certain parts of the world, which is great for dispatching enemies and moving obstacles too large for Iota and Atoi to move with their flimsy paper-thin bodies. The front screen can be used to pull parts of the scenery apart in a bid to unlock hidden areas or unroll paper to create bridges across gaps and over obstacles, while specific enemy types also require front screen interaction for you to to finish them off completely. Both front and rear cameras are used regularly to distinguish your world from that of other Tearaway players, while the gyroscopic tilt functions are reserved for slightly (very slightly) more challenging sequences later in the game.

Every form of interaction is executed with skill and expert pacing, and never does one element outstay its welcome or feel as though it takes away from the onscreen action. The mere fact that the controls feel normal is evidence enough that, when done right, each and every one of the Vita's features can be used in tandem and as a means to elevate gameplay. The traditional input combination of buttons and sticks allow for a set of basic and intuitive movements and actions. There's nothing here that rocks the 3D platformer boat, with jump, roll, pick up, and throw all present and accounted for. It's impossible to be cynical about the limited range of motions, however, given the overwhelming cute factor exuded by the aesthetic and the touch controls.

Mr Rosy Cheeks One Tooth.

It's easier to be cynical about other aspects, though. While Tearaway's levels are the ideal length for a handheld game (none take longer than 15 to 20 minutes), there are simply not enough of them to keep you entertained for long. A couple of extended play sessions is enough to finish a complete playthrough. Hunting out all of the hidden collectibles and photographing points of interest give you reasons to return, but there's nothing on offer that is especially taxing, and you will probably find the vast majority of items with relative ease.

Tearaway's most lasting feature is not within the game itself, but through the inclusion of printable blueprints. Through standard progression and by taking photographs of certain objects, you earn blueprints that allow you to create your own origami editions of your favourite elements from within the game. Be warned, though, that even when you follow the instructions, some of these are incredibly tricky propositions, but if you've got the patience, it's worth the effort to take the theme of connecting worlds to that next step. The fact that it's so tempting to spend time creating these paper models is a testament to how appealing and attractive Tearaway is. It's just a shame that one of the Vita's best experiences feels as long as a piece of paper is thick.

The Good
Wonderfully charming, immediately engaging visuals
Succeeds in creating a connection between the real and virtual worlds
Feels like the most natural use of the Vita's input options to date
Customisation is simple and fun, and enhances diversity
Ability to print blueprints of in-game objects is a cute and fun idea
The Bad
It's all over too soon, and there are too few reasons to return
8
Great
About GameSpot's Reviews

About the Author

/ Staff

Regularly on the road, John is an enthusiastic Vita player with extensive experience with the handheld. From Mario to Rayman, he has been consumed by platformers for longer than he cares to admit and completed the game twice for this review.

Discussion

83 comments
darkljolly
darkljolly

Platinumed it. Way better than this review makes it out though I respect his opinion. Its a bit short, yet its one hell of an experience. 9.5/10

chyng85
chyng85

Yeah it is innovative~ 

GregoryBastards
GregoryBastards

This + diablo 3 remote play makes vita a badass machine to own.

alenth
alenth

Innovative games never score extremely high.

Games that never innovate each year always score high.

jflkdjs
jflkdjs

Tom! Hey Tom where are you? Tearaway is out!!!

Nev3rtime
Nev3rtime

Nice art style. Sony should do more like this. Focus on making vita its own game machine with quality exclusives that take advantage of the hardware, like Nintendo does for the 3ds. The 'PS3 light' image doesn't do the system, and it's abilities, justice.

benleslie5
benleslie5 moderator

Yet another reason why I bought a PS Vita a year ago

prats93
prats93

Wow, the Vita finally has a worthy game.

ali_manslayer
ali_manslayer

OK now you're complaining about the games' length, I thought it was the quality of the experience that mattered, wasn't that being said when defending gone home etc. and I don't necessarily disagree with that argument but damn it make up your minds

hadlee73
hadlee73

Cool I'll probably pick this up. If I can remember where my Vita is. lol

BradBurns
BradBurns

There's a handsome man in my sun.


 I can't stop looking at 'em. 

(I think he wants me. He keeps shooting some serious "Do Me" eyes at me..)

Spartan_418
Spartan_418

Anyone know how big the download size on this is? My Vita's memory card is running out of space :(

juboner
juboner

if u own a vita u most likely bought a sega cd and 32x also

ADO300
ADO300

fuck this look's awesome =D have to buy this game soon =P

jflkdjs
jflkdjs

Awesome review, John! Nothing but praise for the game. So it leaves me wondering why this game didn't score higher than an 8. And why no video review? I'm also curious to know want Tom McShea thinks of this game :)

Halloll
Halloll

why isn't this reviewed by Mc Shea? give the man a Vita Gamespot.

Joedgabe
Joedgabe

Game looks honestly awesome O: sadly i don't have a Vita yet... but this is something i'll look forward to when i do get one. Keep building that library up! i want that backlog to fill up.

padako
padako

wow, got to get me one of those Vita's now. between this and remote play with PS4, I'm running out of reasons to hold on to my money lol

Sefrix
Sefrix moderator

This is getting amazing reviews and looks superbly made. Too bad the release date is where it's at. 

udobald
udobald

I've read it's about 12 hours for 1 playthrough and Tearaway is sold at a low price and this reviewer still complains about the length?

Dresden05
Dresden05

Got my Vita Ordered with the Teraway Bundle looking good for Xmas

logicalfrank
logicalfrank

Seems to me like the VIta is quietly racking up a great library of games. Now where is my new Patapon!

SamehH99
SamehH99

@alenth That's why games like Braid, Flower, and Journey have low scores right? Get the hell outta here...

BradBurns
BradBurns

@Nev3rtime 

Funny, I was thinking the same thing.

This game looks like something Nintendo would create on the Wii U or perhaps 3DS. The way the characters animate also fits the aesthetic well. 

And unlike LBP, it doesn't look like it takes a herculean effort just to make a somewhat entertaining stage to play in, let alone customize. 

Doomerang
Doomerang

@ali_manslayer Not sure how this is showing them changing their minds about anything. He's saying the game is good, but is too short to really get the most out of all of its perks. Sounds like a game that leaves you wanting for more, which is a good thing, but is still a bit too short given its genre. That's the only significant flaw he seems to be complaining about.

Dannystaples14
Dannystaples14

@ali_manslayer I guess it is about balance. If a game rocks but only lasts an hour that sucks. If the game is dull as wood and goes on and on and on it will suck on both accounts.

What you need is to cut it at a decent length giving just enough. I mean any game will run out of steam and become tedious after a certain amount of time. There is only so much room to make a game on. Either because of limited disk space or just the fact it will take about six weeks to download for the average person. And then there is just the fact that developers will run out of ideas.

hadlee73
hadlee73

@juboner All of the above. I even owned a Commodore Amiga CD32 :P

EmperorSupreme
EmperorSupreme

@juboner 

I don't get it?? Or maybe you bought a Vita like me because it's everything we have been asking for in a portable? Primarily a high res screen and dual sticks. The only reason not to get one is it is expensive, but not for what you get. And if you are a playstation plus member already it's a no brainer.

Doomerang
Doomerang

@jflkdjs When a game is too short for its genre and as a result doesn't really let you feel at least somewhat satisfied after playing it, then a game's shortness can be a very significant issue.

iHarlequin
iHarlequin

@jflkdjs 8 is a great score, why should it have scored more? He criticized it for its lack of length (and, as has been discussed before, a flawless game doesn't get a 10: the score doesn't start at 10 and go down as flaws are exposed).

Bgrngod
Bgrngod

@udobald Sold at a low price?  It's $39.99, which is the same price as most new Vita games.

Sefrix
Sefrix moderator

@udobald While I think price should be mentioned and taken into account, I'm a firm believer of the quality of the time means more than the length. I'd rather play an amazing 8 hours than a so-so 100.

Simsyas
Simsyas

@udobald Seriously, I was pleasantly surprised that it was €25 on the PSN Store. Preordered without hesitating.

ali_manslayer
ali_manslayer

@Dannystaples14I agree but I just feel like the reviewers choose to punish some games for it's length (too short) and others they are ready to ignore, for example gone home is super short, one guy even finished it in 2 mins /watch?v=5g3trvkAFQw , it just doesn't seem consistent

juboner
juboner

@hadlee73 @juboner u bought them in their time, not getting them as a collector? Well then u made poor gaming decisions then especially with sega. Unless u didnt care and just like to buy everything, I was young at the time and had tp spend the money I earned so I spent it wisely

juboner
juboner

@EmperorSupreme @juboner no games, or there are not enough great games to even make someone consider it

Simsyas
Simsyas

@Sefrix @udobald ........

100+ hour games are all suddenly bad? Tell that to role-playing and competitive gamers.

Dannystaples14
Dannystaples14

@ali_manslayer Yeah I know what you mean. It is just one of those things. I remember when I played Bioshock Infinite it took me about 18 hours to get through. Some people were like "How the hell did it take you that long?". It took me that long because I was totally immersed in the world and loved looking in every corner and under every stone along the way. I would rate it high for allowing me to stay immersed for longer than the average game. Some would rate it low because it failed to keep them hooked for the 10 hours or so it took them to run through everything.

hadlee73
hadlee73

@Doomerang @hadlee73 @juboner The Amiga version? Yes, and I could never shake the feeling that it was the same as some other game that I'd played but with different graphics, but then platform games were a bit like that back then.

hadlee73
hadlee73

@juboner @hadlee73 You pretty much hit the nail on the head. Just poor gaming decisions. I've made plenty of those over the years!

The CD32 was actually a really advanced console for its time, but Commodore made it out of parts that they could not readily source (short supply) and whereas the consumer demand was there, people lost interest and gave up when they couldn't actually buy one straight away. Commodore was already having financial issues, so they basically closed up shop after that (eventually selling the IP to another company).

As for the Sega CD and 32X, those purchases were just brain explosions from me, lol

EmperorSupreme
EmperorSupreme

@juboner 

I think Vita has more than people think. For some reason Vita games don't get any media attention. Dragons Crown, Persona 4, Killzone and DJ Max Technika are all excellent. Especially DJ Max, I've been playing that one every single night before I goto sleep for over a month now. I love it. 

Anyone thinking about DJ Max buy the download it's less expensive, I don't know why the retail price is so high.

Doomerang
Doomerang

@juboner For you maybe. You're sorely mistaken if you're implying everyone shares your tastes.

Tearaway

  • PlayStation Vita
Tearaway is the forthcoming PlayStation Vita game by Media Molecule, creators of LittleBigPlanet.
ESRB
Everyone
All Platforms
Check out even more info at the Tearaway Wiki on Giantbomb.com