This type of article is reflecting on games I played a long time ago or recently to completion, but this is not a review. Reviews are, well, me being critical on games and giving feedback on whenever people should get them or not. Reflection articles are going to be about games I have a deep connection too and I want to talk in great detail about. More or less, they are like reviews but more personal.
Now that is out of the way, lets talk about Tearaway. This is a 2013 title released on the PlayStation Vita in November 2013. This game was developed by Media Molecule, developers behind the LittleBigPlanet series. Considering that background, they make creative games that offer lots of level designing and creative aspects. But they are more or less creative tool sets with the game part being secondary (though still strong).
With Tearaway, I get the impression they wanted to blend both those elements but in a stronger fashion; you still create in the world but the gameplay itself is focused on core elements, mechanics and features. Creativitly caries the game, but not the driving force.
Tearaway in many aspects, feels like a great Nintendo game to me. The world, the character designs, the music, and the creative elements; it screams Nintendo. And that must be a factor to why I love the game so much, as I grew up playing Mario and Kirby.
Going into the gameplay, it is a mixture of LBP creative elements but also more in line with a game like Banjo Kazooie or Mario 64. Its core gameplay mirrors those 3D platformers; you run around, jump around and collect everything in sight. The difference is that unlike those great platformers, platforming isn’t the major focus.
Like how LBP has the skeltion of a 2D platformer but it was more of a creative tool set, Tearaway has the skin of a 3D platformer but its core mirrors adventure games. You complete simple tasks, take pictures, draw objects and more to solve the NPC’s problems and that is what pushes the game forward. The game does have platforming and by the final world things kick into high gear with more challenging level designs but that isn’t the focus with Tearaway. Its about interacting with the paper world around you and to be honest, I’m glad the game focuses on its strongest aspect.
The way you interact with the world is through using the PS Vita as a tool; you draw using the touch screen, bound on drums using the rear touch pad, take pictures with the camera and the blow/speak into the speaker to control wind.
These elements sound gimmicky, but they are not. They feel natural and intuitive. The game accomplishing this when many other Vita games failed at this aspect is not only impressive, but allows the game to define the Vita.
Vita is mainly used for JRPG’s and other games from Japan, with the odd indie game here and there, but Tearaway shows what the system itself could do; its important to the system’s identity I feel.
The games visuals and music is nothing like any other game. Games like South Park: The Stick of Truth and the Paper Mario series explore paper worlds but nothing on the level of Tearaway. Every part of the world is made of paper; the water has paper ripples when you jump on it, paper sticking out sinks into the ground when you walk on it and even parts of the world move around when you press a button or move the analog stick. It creates this living place and the fact it looks so polished & clean on the Vita screen makes it pop.
The music is some of the systems best too, and here are some examples of that:
Really great tracks that highlight the strong, storybook-style sound the game provides.
I really love this game and it was a personal 2013 Game of the Year for me and considering I got my Vita this very year, it was a nice insight to the strong software the system has.