Big screen debut for Atoi & Co
Game Title: Tearaway Unfolded
Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment
Reviewed On: Playstation 4
Available on: Playstation 4
When Tearaway hit the PS Vita in 2013, it was a breath of fresh air. The cleverly designed game was built for Sony’s handheld, and showcased its capabilities perfectly. Cameras, gyroscopic controls, touch pads: they were all used to good effect.
Made by the same people who are behind Little Big Planet, Tearaway Unfolded moves to the PS4. It’s part remake, part redesign, adding extra content to the sadly too-short PS Vita version and giving you a bit more value for money.
With the leap to the console also comes a bigger canvas for Tearaway to showcase just what made it so compelling on the Vita.
You take on the role of the Messenger, known as Atoi/Iota, depending on which avatar you choose. A hole has been ripped through the sky from the paper and glue game world into the real world, and through it is pouring the scraps - mean, nasty creatures that are intent on making the world dull and colourless through newsprint (let’s gloss over that one). Aside from your character, you also have a role to play as the all seeing, controlling You that is referred to at several points throughout the game.
Interacting with the game is a fascinating experience. As you gain abilities and progress through the game, you learn something new at every turn: paper curls can be blown in the right direction to flip Atoi to a higher level, drums can bounce the messenger to out of reach platforms, and glue can give you a much-needed hand across seemingly impassible chasms.
Scenery comes alive as you come into range. Flowers open, grass flutters. You can hear the paper moving in the breeze. On looks and atmosphere alone, Tearaway Unfolded gets a big thumbs up.
There are nice touches that encourage you to feel part of the game. You are occasionally asked to design and draw something for use in the game world. A crown for a squirrel in once instance; a snowflake or some scary eyes for a sea monster in others. Some objects will appear randomly in the game long after you’ve forgotten you even created them. You can also use the smartphone app to import textures and objects into the game, but it’s not essential.
If you have a PlayStation camera attached to your console, you’ll see yourself reflected in the tear in the sky. There are references throughout the game to the powerful You too, which plays on the sentiment of “we’re all in this together”.
There are some stumbling blocks though. While the Vita version made good use of the touchpad on the rear of the console, the touchpad on the dual shock controller is more awkwardly positioned and smaller in size. That means creating those in game objects is awkward at times and you’ll often find you run out of space; your creativity is limited.
But overall the controls are intuitive and well thought out. The controller’s lightbar can can be used to illuminate the world, melting away dull newsprint and attracting enemies’ attention so you can guide them off the nearest cliff.
Those enemies can get a bit dull. Constantly dispatching the scraps can get tedious, even when new weapons such as an accordion are introduced. There is little variety to be seen here, although sucking them in and firing them out of the accordion is fun, I have to admit.
Apart from the scraps, there is little in the way of to challenge Atoi. Falling from a height or touching the water will result in instant death, as will getting crushed by falling paper or thumped once too often by beasts, but this is Tearaway, so death isn’t permanent. There are no limited lives, and enough checkpoints that you never really lose out too much by bouncing back to the last one. It means you take risks and try out new things, but it also means there’s no real sense of urgency. There are side missions to take on that result in a gift of confetti - the game’s currency - if you are successful. One of the recurring themes is getting a gopher from one part of the game to a more remote one without losing your stamp - ie dying - but other than that there’s no real incentive to play it safe.
There are enough side missions to keep you occupied - giving an elk a new pelt, for example, or giving a scientist a new look in the lab - so it’s not just about getting from point A to B as quickly as possible.
Tearaway Unfolded is a fun experience with some interesting customisation options. While it won’t beat the original for me, it’s a great introduction for those who missed the Vita version.