The PlayStation brand has always emphasized variety with its software. For instance, while one of the most anticipated Vita titles is Killzone: Mercenary, another that many desperately want is Media Molecule’s latest. Tearaway is essentially the polar opposite of Killzone, in that it isn’t dark, it definitely isn’t a shooter, and every last facet – from the atmosphere and presentation to the incredibly creative gameplay – is completely different than Mercenary. This much is obvious with but a glimpse of Tearaway.
And when you’ve got a game where the central focus is paper, you immediately sense the imagination and ingenuity only Media Molecule can produce. The LittleBigPlanet developer is pulling out all the stops with this exclusive Vita project: It’s zany, charmingly eclectic, unique and innovative. For instance, the story involves a hero who must deliver an unknown message that is contained within an envelope…that that envelope is, perhaps conveniently, the hero’s head. As it turns out, the entire world is built out of paper and it’s not just for show. No, interacting with this paper environment should be highly intriguing on every possible level.
Exploration involves the understanding that everything you see, everything you trod upon, is indeed comprised of different shapes and styles of paper. So glue will let you stick to walls and lighter paper can unravel and float. Furthermore, the developers will make full use of the Vita’s touchscreen functionality, and in a way we’ve never seen before. For instance, blowing on the screen will unravel rolls of paper, standing on particular surfaces and tapping the screen will cause you to bounce into the air, and you can even tear a hole in paper with your finger. This is how you actually enter this loony world, by the way.
This isn’t merely a cutesy little landscape that just so happens to include colorful paper creations. In fact, we will have plenty of epic areas to explore, and the ability to have significant and even drastic effects on our environment changes the very nature of the game. The two main characters Iota and Atoi will have the power of your finger, which can break through barriers, pick up and utilize various objects that can clear paths, and in general, manipulate paper in ways you normally would in real life. The control scheme outside of the touchscreen features should be reminiscent of LittleBigPlanet, with a distinct action/adventure feel.
There have been multiple levels on display already, and one of them is a great example of the ingenious minds at Media Molecule. Sony showed off a level called Sogport, which is a seaport very much inspired by classic folktales. There’s a huge ocean, a fishing village and even a dense forest, which are loaded with strange creatures, such as the fearsome Wendigo. The protagonists, being made of paper, can’t fall into the ocean (or rivers) because of course, it isn’t water, it’s glue. But as hinted at above, glue isn’t all bad, as it can also be utilized to stick to walls and ceilings, which might grant access to new and interesting areas.
Tearaway is one of those games that seem destined to put a smile on your face. In an industry that’s seemingly obsessed with the darkest, grittiest themes, the likes of this original and very promising Vita game is refreshing. It’s almost comforting in a way.
4/11/2013 Ben Dutka