Tearaway is a wonderful game and one of several really good reasons why more people should pick up a Vita. Usually I end my posts with that kind of sentiment but I thought we’d switch things up a little bit. Not only that but I really enjoyed this game to the point where I think it merits earlier mentioning.
The Gist, The Gameplay & You
So what is Tearaway? It is a curious game but I believe you can safely classify it as a platformer. There’s more to it than that, though. There are some small elements of easy puzzle solving along with several instances that require creativity on your part. The obvious thing that distinguishes Tearaway from a lot of games is its visual style. The entire game is made to look as if it were crafted out of paper. Not just flat pieces like Paper Mario but full on paper craft figures and buildings and plants, etc. The entire world looks like it was made out of colored construction paper and it’s ridiculously charming.
The game progresses through several chapters and takes you through many different paper craft locations. Each chapter/level has a variety of collectables like confetti, presents, paper craft and enemies defeated. On most levels you could essentially get all of these on one play through but I encountered a few instances where I missed a couple of hidden things and one instance where I needed a future ability that I hadn’t received yet. 100% each level never felt overly difficult or tedious and I really only encountered a problem once when one of the levels seemed to be glitched and would spawn the last enemy I needed to defeat, however a few retries and I got it.
Initially you are pretty limited in what you can do which is pretty much just grab — primarily used to pick up stunned enemies and toss them. Not long in you gain the ability to jump and bit after that the ability to roll around in a paper ball. The last character specific ability you get, other than the camera which I’ll talk about later, is a special squeezebox that can suck in air and blow it out. It’s useful for a few puzzles and for fighting enemies. I’ve mentioned enemies a few times and while they are present they don’t seem to be the primary focus of the game. You will encounter a decent amount of them but you can dispatch them with easily enough. You can pretty much take one hit before you are destroyed by the second, which causes you to respawn nearby. Any time you fall into a pit you also get destroyed. There are instances when you need to use all of these abilities in when navigating the game world, jumping over obstacles and hazards, walking up sticky glue walls and rolling down narrow strips of paper.
Tearaway gets really creative with all of the Vita’s touch and gyro abilities while never falling into the gimmick category that early Vita titles suffered from (Like Uncharted). In the game world you will encounter some objects that have little fingerprint stickers on them. These can be manipulated by you, or The You as you are called in game, and causes different effects depending on the situation. Sometimes you might be peeling away layers and other times you might be unrolling paper or shifting the background like a pop-up book. These interactions are really cool but the rear-touch (I can’t type that without smiling) abilities are by far the coolest.
If you find a special area of white ground that is covered with crosses, circles, squares and triangles (The Playstation Buttons) then you can touch the back touch screen for a special effect. Some areas act like a drum when struck and bounce your character up high. This is actually used before you get the ability to jump, I believe. Other areas like this will allow you to poke your finger up through the paper which creates a really cool visual effect. A giant finger tears through the paper and can be moved around to either bash enemies or push aside and move objects. Obviously it doesn’t display your actual finger but the effect it creates as you drag your finger along the back of the Vita is just awesome.
The system’s gyro also gets use but not a lot of it. Pretty much all of it is in the final chapters of the game. When you encounter objects with a lenticular graphic of a Vita on it you can tilt your system to move it around. Some of the puzzles in these sections are a lot of fun and I would have liked to have seen more of them.
Creative Customization & Cameras
You take control of a little character with an envelope head. His name is Iota, although if you choose a female character it might be called Atoi. You can customize your little envelope dude with various animated eyes and mouth pieces, more which you can buy with confetti found throughout the game, and tons of other little paper pieces that range from basic shapes to more complex objects like skulls or ladybugs. The really cool part about customizing your character is the ability to craft your own decorations which can be done by cutting different pieces of construction paper and layering them together. You are really only limited by your own imagination and how well you can draw with your finger.
There are also several instances where characters in the game may ask you to place certain decorations on them or make them a face. There are times when it goes beyond that and they want you to create specific pieces that will be used by the character or in the game world. For example, early in the game you are asked with creating a pumpkin and you will see your pumpkin design several times throughout the game. A character’s look that you arrange will also be around every time it pops up. It’s interesting to imagine all of the different types of creations that various players are making and how their game might look different than yours.
Early in the game your character receives a camera which allows you to take tons of different kinds of pictures including selfies. I can’t believe I actually used that word but there it is. Anyway, you can use confetti to purchase tons of different filters like black & white, sepia, warm, etc. There are also several different camera lenses that can be used for close-ups, zoom shots, high motion shots and so on. It brings out the amateur photographer in you as you run around trying to take various pictures and get cool shots of the scenery. This isn’t only done for the hell of it, however, as there are several instances where a character might ask you to take a certain picture, etc. You also must use your camera to take the picture of any colorless, white figure or object you see. Doing so will restore color the the character/object along with unlocking instructions via their website on how to actually make that paper craft, which is pretty awesome. I’m not sure if I have the patience or glue skills for that but I might try it one day.
The actual camera on the Vita is also used in several different ways. Sometimes a character may ask you to color it in using a picture taken of the real world. This is how I got a deer with a wolf blanket pattern and a pig with an empty chip box design; I’m just clever like that. The game also asks you several times through the story to take various pictures of yourself making different faces or pictures of your hand, etc. These also get used in the game in though it borders on creepy at times. I actually couldn’t decide if I was disturbed or not by seeing my face plastered all over the place and little animated versions of me blinking, opening my mouth, etc. The front facing camera is also always on and displaying your head prominently in the middle of the sun. It kind of makes you look like some kind of god entity that is watching the world down below. All of these things are pretty important to the story as well since you, or The You, are very much part of the story.
So now I’m back to where I started: Telling you that it’s a fantastic game worth buying. Not only that but it’s pretty cheap, too. It seems to have been on sale for anywhere from $15 to $20, which actually bums me out a little bit. If the game is already being discounted so much then it must not be selling very well at all. They’ve created a beautiful paper craft world full of color and whimsy and I really don’t want this to be the last entry that we see. I mean, it would make sense to bring a game like this to a more popular system like the PS3 or PS4 but I’m not sure how will that would translate since you would be losing several of the Vita’s system features that help make the unique experience. I imagine that the Dualshock 4’s touch pad could be utilized in some ways but I’m not sure it would be the same.
This was the last game I played in 2013 and definitely one of the best of the year. Easily a 9/10.