Never in my career have I spoken to developers as proud, involved, and in love with their creation as Media Molecule is with Tearaway. Their passion, enthusiasm, and their creativity shines through their work, bringing joy and wonder and fun to anyone who lays a hand on their games.
The same could be said about LittleBigPlanet, and that went on to be a smash success with millions of levels created. Tearaway, however, isn’t about creation, it’s about discovery, and using your hands to explore this world of paper.
The PlayStation Vita’s front and rear touch interfaces are the perfect way to interact with Tearaway‘s world. Media Molecule set out to create a game with a certain tangible feeling, and the moment you pick it up you get this sensation that you and your hands are actually a part of the game itself. They call it a “playful intersection between the game world and the real world.”
While you control iota – or his female counterpart, atoi – through a world inspired by a hodgepodge of pop-up books, old folk tales, and untidy desks littered with crumbled concept art, you feel like a God. It may not seem like you’re this all powerful being since there are limitations, but you do have complete control of the characters, the creatures, the landscape, and the surroundings. You solve puzzles and discover paths through exploration in a non-traditional sense. Yes, you still use analog sticks to move the character, but it’s your fingers that are used to manipulate the levels and obstacles to allow your adorable little character to pass.
Iota and atoi, and even the creatures posing as threats are unbelievably cute and are full of charm. Hearing iota’s grunts as he struggles to throw an object will bring about a smirk, no matter how hardened of a person you are. After trapping a creature and seeing them scratch their heads trying to figure out how to get at you, you just might feel bad for them.
Traversal through each level – which Media Molecule promises will have a ton of variety – is an adventure in itself. Everything is made of paper, and glue can be both a way up the side of a mountain, or could mean certain doom if it’s thick enough. As you can tell, the theme of paper is found in every aspect of the game.
The animation has a stop-motion effect to it, and cutscenes driving the story are told through pop-up style swipeable comic strips. As you proceed and explore, you may even discover papercraft rewards that can be printed out in .PDF form, bringing the game into the real world, again, breaking down that fourth wall and allowing the game to seemingly come to life.
Tearaway is incredibly unique. It’s cute, yes, but it’s really nothing like LittleBigPlanet. You may see some similarities in the art style and the easily recognizable charm, but Tearaway is very different from anything seen before. If it can inspire a strong feeling of childhood warmth and wonder from a busy adult like myself, then it’s clear they’re on to something. I can’t wait to get my hands on it, or in it, again soon.