The PlayStation Vita has taken a hit as the lesser handheld compared to the 3DS due to the latter’s more extensive game library. But the Vita is now slowly gaining some ground, especially with Nintendo’s recent financial woes. However, it’s also because of the features that help it become a bit like the Nintendo Wii U Gamepad, as well as a significant handheld platform on its own, with games such as Tearaway. If the Vita library is to be populated by games like this, then its future should be secure.
Tearaway is a platformer by Media Molecule, who are the makers of LittleBigPlanet. It does make a good first impression with some really good visuals, but that’s to be expected from Media Molecule with their unique “arts and crafts” look, but this time more on a paper theme in contrast to LittleBigPlanet’s fabric theme. This game is all about bits of entertainment, perfect for a handheld platform like the Vita. But it wasn’t just something that was churned out to meet a market demand, but something that the developers took time with, as is evident from the polish that it has.
It features two main characters, the messenger and the actual player, referred to as “the You”. The gameplay is presented in a third-person perspective, and problems are presented a bit like in Scribblenauts. There is a good bit of customization involved, so you can take your time and change whatever you want to come up with something of your own. The visuals are both creative and easy on the eyes, so it eggs you on to play around whatever you can tweak and change.
The gameplay itself is a novel kinesthetic concept that breaks the fourth wall by making use of various Vita features, which gives it a bit of an augmented reality feel. You have to take pictures in the real world through the camera on the Vita, as well as use the rear touch screen to interact with enemies and the environment, and your fingers actually pop up in the game when you do. It lets you become involved with the game and not just be an observer with more limited interactivity. There is a refreshing inventiveness to it in that it doesn’t take itself too seriously, but still gets you engaged in its gameplay and overall charm.
A lot of these features though with their aesthetic appeal and kinesthetic novelty, as well as the customization options and unlockables, mask how similar it really is to most other games since the gameplay is still the act of getting from start to finish. In its very essence, it’s not that different from other puzzle platformers that advertise freedom and openness in their gameplay. It does seem that combat isn’t entirely necessary in this game though, but that may be a design decision that the developers considered to give a bit more dimension to the game, which is perhaps something they picked up from LittleBigPlanet.
Despite those details though, there is still quite a bit of originality on top of it all. You get a good degree of freedom that lets you play it however you want, and you soon embark on your own kind of adventure. For some, it’s everything they want in a game, while others may feel that it’s overrated. In any case though, it’s still pretty nice to be able to climb mountains, ride on animals, and help the denizens of this in-game world out. It’s quite short though in its entirety, so you may want to take your time and explore to get the most of this game.
As ambitious as its premise is, the aforementioned cons and other factors contribute to it not being as good as the developers may have hoped, but it’s still quite good on its own. It fits the Vita quite nicely, but it’s unfortunate that it’s only available for that platform. If you do have a Vita and/or you enjoy puzzle platformers like LittleBigPlanet, then you most likely won’t regret getting this.
Tested in Vita. Final Score: 8.5/10