Tearaway

Tearaway_boxartDate Completed : November 22nd, 2014

When I was eight years old a kid in my third grade class gained some notoriety for his ability to fold Origami balloons.  He refused to teach me how on the grounds that “Origami is a secret”.  It must be one of the worst kept secrets of all time – a quick trip to the Library at recess was enough to get the instructions for balloons as well as myriads of other interesting things.  I came back to class triumphantly and demonstrated that I too now knew the secret.  His thunder was stolen and I reigned as the new coolest 8 year old.  At least that’s how I like to remember it.

Tearaway isn’t a game about Origami but it does involve a lot of folding paper.  Everything in the game from blades of grass to enemies to waves in the ocean has been modeled with virtual paper.  Various objects in the game can be further enhanced by using an in-game editor to create new paper craft objects of your own.  For example, when you enter the snowy area you create the snowflakes which are seen blowing in the wind.  You can also use the Camera at various points to take pictures of real-world objects that will be used in the game world.

Elk

An Elk that has been textured with a photograph of my wife’s beads.

The game itself follows the adventures of ‘Iota’, a messenger who happens to be made of paper.  Iota is on a quest to deliver the message to mythical creature called a ‘You’ (Don’t worry, I won’t spoil what a ‘You’ is.  You‘ll have to play the game to find out!).  Primarily your goal is to navigate your way through the paper craft world and help Iota deliver the message.

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That’s not a bow on my head, it’s a butterfly!

Playing Tearaway gives one the impression that it was a requirement that every piece of the Vita’s hardware was used in some way.  The most innovative use of the Vita’s hardware is how the rear-touch panel is used.  In set locations in the game world you can use the back of the Vita to shove your finger into the game world and interact with the environment (If you look closely at the box art you’ll see a finger holding up Iota).  It was quite a surprise for me the first time that happened.

It is impossible to lose the game.  If you fall off the level or are defeated by an enemy Iota quickly re-spawns at the previous checkpoint.  The game is already very easy, and without the threat of death it’s just a matter of taking the time to walk through the levels. It has been pointed out to me that Journey was similar in that respect, and now that I think of it Tearaway has a lot of similarities to Journey without having quite the emotional impact that Journey has.

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One of the many friends you make on your adventure.

My kids enjoyed watching me play Tearaway for short periods but the game wasn’t enough to hold their interest for long. They were mostly interested in ‘helping’ me create paper craft objects with the touch screen, or photo bombing pictures when the cameras were active.

If you look closely you might see my face and the top of my son’s head in the background.

One cool feature is that after taking a photo of certain objects in the game printable plans become available on https://tearaway.me. After finishing the game I printed off two black and white copies of the Iota plan for my boys to color in. I assisted in the Final assembly as it is a bit too complicated for a 5-year-old.

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Papercraft Iota

My final thoughts – I thought the game was too easy. The story was good, but I feel it could have been told in a more emotionally impactful way. The game relies too much on gimmicky interactions (such as a finger through the back panel) and not enough on core game mechanics. The paper craft visual ascetic is unique and interesting. The ability to create custom objects and insert pictures into the game makes each play through the game unique to an individual. There is a lot to like, and a lot that falls a bit shy of greatness. I would play a sequel (which I understand has been announced for the PS4) but I doubt I will play through this title again.

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I am the sunshine, the only sunshine…

PS – Somewhat unexpectedly, it turns out the day that I beat Tearaway was it’s Birthday!

Pros

  • Unique visual ascetics.
  • Makes full use of all the features of the Vita.
  • Bonus ‘Real World’ content unlocks as you play at https://tearaway.me

Cons

  • Not very challenging
Is it fun: Yes
Score: 6/10
Length:  ~3 hours
System: Playstation Vita
Genre: Platform / Exploration
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