Developer: Media Molecule
Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment
Platform: PS4 (Tearaway originally on PS Vita)
Release Date: September 8, 2015
The PS Vita is an unfortunate handheld console. It has dozens of quality titles from first and 3rd party studios, yet due to mitigating factors the device does not sell well in the marketplace. Media Molecule’s Tearaway on the PS Vita was an underrated star on the platform, and it was a shame not many got to experience the whimsy for themselves. Fortunately, Media Molecule have released Tearaway Unfolded exclusively for the PS4, rewriting the game from the ground up for a multitude of new gameplay mechanics, locations and aesthetics. There isn’t one Iota left reimagined!
Tearaway Unfolded starts you out shedding light unto the papercraft world below. Choosing to be a boy (Iota) or a girl (Atoi) avatar, the player is welcomed by two charming narrators who guide our character towards the giant hole in the sky. The task: deliver a message to “the You” controlling either Iota or Atoi. Along the way, you will encounter scraps; cartoonish evil creatures that take on many forms in your adventure. Not only will they impede your progress, but thwarting them can even lead to some confetti (in-game currency) rewards from thankful NPCs.
The aesthetics of Tearaway Unfolded make it one of the most gorgeous games on the PS4.
Luckily, you will have numerous Godlike powers at your disposal as the game’s “You.” Taking advantage of the DualShock 4 controller, players of Tearaway Unfolded will gradually improve their abilities to meet the tasks at hand. Shining a light will lead scraps towards certain doom, flicking directionally on the D-Pad manipulates the wind to knock enemies in mid-strike, rolling into a ball knocks stilted enemies down and throwing projectiles at the DualShock controller will let you aim on your game’s screen to chuck at enemies. You will need to use each skill at your disposal to progress the game’s adventure.
Everything you see in Tearaway Unfolded is a physical manifestation of paper. The bird, the bees, the flowers and the trees are all different styles of paper. What brings it life is a deeply rich palette of colors used across the game’s dozens of chapters. Each location utilizes colorization, in addition to an addictively folksy soundtrack, to evoke an emotional tone that fits the setting of the story. Climbing a snowy mountain is decidedly dreary while a bright afternoon among the trees is vibrant in energy.
There’s a certain charm that bleeds through each location, and keen attention to detail in naturally unfolding this crafted universe is a crucial factor in its effectiveness. The aesthetics of Tearaway Unfolded make it one of the most gorgeous games on the PS4. It will be difficult to top the style afforded to its paper-based motif, one that provides a unique style that hasn’t been replicated. Just as important is the game’s level design, with platforming being as principal a measure of the game’s balance between functionality and beauty.
Tearaway Unfolded hides its linearity well, with most of the action lying on a desired path. However, the use of your You’s powers makes the journey to deliver a fateful message more of an adventure. Manipulating the wind will knock down obstacles and clear pathways, but with multiple routes to travel down, you could quickly find yourself falling towards a load state. In fact, every offensive skill can be used to clear yourself towards the final destination, bringing depth to the gameplay mechanics within a duality. They open up how you perceive the scope of play.
The one thing I found lacking was the game’s handling of combat. The scraps come by to stop you ever so often in arena-like settings, and there never seems to be that sense of urgency needed to feel like anything was at stake. I’m not expecting some deep fighting mechanics like it’s the next Dark Souls game or anything, but these moments throughout stick out as the weak links in an otherwise excellent platforming title. It’s the trap you set yourself up for when creating a world fit for a God-like entity and pales in comparison to the challenge the game’s 3D platforming has prepared.
Tearway Unfolded demands respect from its players, and it is righteously earned here.
The real message of Tearaway Unfolded is to have fun at a pace that makes you truly appreciate your surroundings. Controlling the You, many characters will task you with coming up with attractive designs for the game’s objects. Using the touchpad when prompted, players have a breadth of customization options to various objects, including making royal crowns, drafting up weather patterns and even dictating what cascading snow will look like. Additionally, your camera can take pictures and animated gifs within the game that can be shared through, and manipulated with, a companion app. It even allows for non-intrusive co-op play with a friend.
Despite the freedom to try to mess with the developer’s vision for this enigmatic world, the overwhelming optimistic enthusiasm pores through so strongly that even the most cynical of players will refrain from drawing phallic images. At the core, there’s a very heartwarming motif to the interactions between characters, the narrators and the environment. Media Molecule are masters at pulling at your heartstrings; toying with emotional states to craft a rich narrative throughout several hours’ worth of attention-grabbing adorableness. Tearaway Unfolded demands respect from its players, and it is righteously earned here.
I won’t go into spoiler territory out of respect for new players, but Tearaway Unfolded does take interesting turns in its story. There are peaks and valleys within the pacing, although it does tend to drag at a few particular moments in the latter half of the game. With more content, more locations, more white-out photos to take and more customization options for your Atoi/Iota’s costume, what you see here is building upon an excellent foundation Vita players have come to known, setting up a brilliant reemergence worthy of a first (or second) look on the PS4.
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Tearaway Unfolded produces a high definition edition of an excellent adventure platforming game and brings tons of additional functionality to a brand new audience. The journey to deliver an important message is met with intriguing world customization options, engaging creatures, a firm basis of platforming play and a stunning world to bottle it all in. What little negatives exist do little to rain down on the parade of lovely moments peppered throughout the game’s story. A great game that everyone should try out, in one version or another.
A copy of this game was provided to GameSided for the purpose of this review. Click here to learn more about our Review Policy.
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