Tearaway Unfolded Makes Good on Dualshock 4 Tech
Tearaway Unfolded might not be an entirely new adventure, but it's making neat use of the Dualshock 4 and the PS4's pixel-pushing power.
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Tearaway Unfolded might well be the first game (The Playroom not withstanding) that finally makes good on all that fancy tech crammed into the Dualshock 4--not that this should come as much of a surprise given Tearaway's judicious use of the PlayStation Vita's many sensors and touchpad wizardry. This isn't some half-hearted "hey, look! We made the touchpad a pause button, we're geniuses!" attempt at using the DS4 either: the touchpad, the light bar, the motion sensors, and the speaker all form an integral part of Tearaway Unfolded's deliciously twee paper-platforming action.
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Whether that's enough of a reason to pick it up if you've already played the Vita version remains to be seen. After all, Tearaway Unfolded is being touted as an "expanded retelling" of the original game, rather than an entirely new experience. Still, it's hard to ignore Tearaway's charms once you get a glimpse of it in its new, higher-definition guise. Its colourful world looks great on the PlayStation 4, the papercraft characters and backdrops appearing sharp and vibrant on the big screen--and, despite the familiar story, new places to explore are being promised too.
But the most dramatic changes come to Tearaway's controls. Without the touchy-feely inputs of the Vita, the DS4 is left to pick up the slack, and--at least in the level I played--it worked beautifully. Case in point: picking up objects in Tearaway. As you guide Atoi (or Iota) around you can pick up objects like acorns or boxes, and then by tilting the controller up, have Atoi fling them off the screen and into your controller.
From there, the controller becomes a pointing device, letting you aim where you want to throw your object--say, at a target on a seesaw to flip Atoi onto an out-of-reach platform--and throw it by flicking over the touchpad. It's very cute, particularly when you pick up an evil scrap or a squirrel, who then chirp from the controller's speaker as if they're trapped inside. The controller is also surprisingly accurate, particularly considering the game doesn't require the PlayStation Camera (although, you can hook it up if you fancy having your face displayed in the sun like on the Vita).
The controller's motion sensing is used to similarly impressive effect when hypnotising scraps in order to lure them away from a particular section of a level. There, the controller becomes a beam of sunlight (the light bar illuminating along with it), which you point over the scraps to gather them up, and then lead them down a conveniently placed pit in the middle of a platform to the sound of squeaky screams. In the level I played, the touchpad was also used to bounce Atoi on trampolines to reach higher platforms, as well as to bounce papercraft cauliflowers out of the way of a collapsing bridge.
That these controls feel so natural after just a few minutes of play is an impressive achievement, and I can't wait to see what else Tearaway has in store. As for the rest of Tearaway, well, it's safe to say I've been well and truly charmed. I loved the kooky dialogue that its strange papercraft inhabitants spouted, and the sparkly soundtrack that backed up the tight platforming. I especially loved my ham-fisted attempt at cutting out a new moustache for one of the poor inhabitants that had lost his, the end result looking like I'd just slapped a wet fish straight across his upper lip.
This kinda kooky approach to platformers is becoming something of a Sony jam: just take a look at the likes of LittleBigPlanet (another Media Molecule endeavour) and the wonderful Puppeteer on PS3. It's a trend that I dearly hope continues. After all, sometimes you just want to lift the weight of the world from your shoulders, and play a game that makes you smile. Judging by what I've seen so far, Tearaway Unfolded is going to do just that.