PlayStation Vita doesn’t just have very little to choose from when it comes to available games; Sony’s handheld is also longing for a game that fully utilizes the system’s hardware. Well, no longer does it have to wait, with Media Molecule (LittleBigPlanet) bringing out Tearaway. It may not look like much, being a kid-oriented platformer set in a world made out of paper and glue, but if you give it a chance, you won’t regret it, and here’s why:
Tearaway is a big leap forward on many fronts for PS Vita gaming, with the story being one of the most notable elements. Without spoiling too much, there’s a world made of paper and all of a sudden a face appears in its sun (player’s face) and strange hostile creatures called Scraps start raining down. Saving the world and delivering a message to the face in the sun (called the You) falls to the Messenger (Iota if male and Aito if female). It’s not Pulitzer material, but it’s surprisingly good. The narrators constantly break the fourth wall, addressing both the Messenger and the You. There are also a few side stories, a strong supporting cast and the script is filled with MM’s signature humor, so if you enjoy a good light-hearted adventure or any of the LBP games, you’ll love Tearaway‘s story.
So much in fact, that you won’t expect the game to be over so soon. With only the single player campaign available, you’re looking at around 4-5 hours of play time if you try to achieve 100% completion. The 16 chapters never have a single grinding section or dull moment, but after you’re done with them, there’s nothing else to do. Where LBP had a level editor where people created entire games, Tearaway only has bits of character customization and papercraft at designated points in the story, complete with a photo mode. Oh, and there’s also collectible papercraft plans for those who want to put game’s characters onto a shelf.
Again, despite the short running time, Tearaway is very enjoyable. Platforming sections are broken up by simple puzzles and quite a bit of fighting; they’re all light-hearted, easy to master and very satisfying. But the best part about gameplay is how it manages to fully use Vita’s functionality: at certain points you’ll be using touch screen, touch pad, both cameras, microphone, gyroscope and so on and the game will show your participation accordingly. Checkpoints are also plentiful, so you can easily play during your daily commutes. When You can’t help, however, Messenger’s tools are also a lot of fun against the varied enemy types, but I won’t spoil the fun of discovering those.
Finally, Tearaway‘s visuals. They are simply awesome. Sure, it’s really hard to make a world made of paper look good technically, but the art style is unlike anything yours truly has ever seen. From the sun with your face in it, to a harbor with waves hitting the shore, to mysterious looking caverns, all the way to the bizarre last chapters you will be kept in awe from the overall looks and tiny details. Same great things can be said about the voice acting as well, which never fails to make you smile; the music, which is worthy of listening to on its own and performance, which never dips throughout the experience. Controls are also sharp and escape any blame for jumps you miss or enemies you don’t defeat.
If only Tearaway was a bit longer and had a bit more replay value, it would’ve been a must-have for any Vita owner. As it is, though, the game’s 40-dollar price tag is barely justified. It will leave you asking for more, but Tearaway is great and definitely worth playing.