When Tearaway was initially released on the PS Vita back in 2013, I always saw it as a brilliant game and that it was a shame more people wouldn’t be able to play because of the lack of hardware adoption. To this day, I still look back fondly at the little game that could and all of it’s brilliant uses of the complete hardware package that was the Playstation Vita. Fast forward two years and the minds over at Media Molecule (MM) have devised a way to “port” this game to next gen consoles. I put quotes around port because while it is a port of an existing game, the end result is anything but a copy/paste of it’s previous incarnation. Media Molecule takes too much pride in their work and that just wouldn’t do. Instead, we get a game that is very similar to it’s predecessor, but without the same reliance on the Vita’s hardware. Instead, MM took what worked in the Vita version and translated it to the PS4 to use the system’s unique controller and graphic fidelity. The end result is a beautiful game that has a ton of options for the whole family.
In Tearaway Unfolded, you’ll be placed into the shows of either Atoi or Iota (depending on the sex you chose) and begin their adventure to deliver a message to you, the player on the other side of the television controlling the action. The game is set up in a way that the story and lives of everyone you encounter is actually happening inside your TV and controller. This is done through smart use of the hardware, including rumble features when a squirrel is tucked away inside your controller, a light mechanic in game that reacts to you shining your controllers light at the television to brighten the screen, and the use of the Playstation Camera (if you have it) to broadcast your image to all the denizens of the little paper craft world. These mechanics are a joy to play and was one of the main reasons the original version on the Vita was so successful. As you progress through the game, these features will open up and introduce you to new mechanics that you’ll use over the course of the 9-10 hour campaign. It’s refreshing to see that MM took the time to explore the full features of the PS4 and while it doesn’t have the same magic of holding a world in your hands via the PS Vita, this is certainly the next best thing.
Having played a ton of the initial game on the Vita, I was a bit skeptical of what could be done to transfer this to the PS4, but I’m glad to say I was pleasantly surprised. The game has been updated with new levels, new unlockables, and overall more features that even if you or your child played it on the Vita, you’ll find something new here. It truly feels like a new game rather than a port of an existing game on another platform, Media Molecule really took their time in making sure they weren’t doing a quick port and done. As you progress through the new world, you’ll notice that everything is in a paper craft style. This style is found everywhere and looks incredibly slick on the next gen hardware of the PS4. The Vita version was really pretty, but this is on a whole different level. Characters you meet will be made of paper (like yourself) and most of the puzzles you encounter will revolve around how paper would react in the same situation (weightlessness, floating, etc.) The character you choose to play as will interact with items in the world and can even throw them to you in a sort of breaking of the 4th wall style gameplay that allows you to interact with something, return it to the character, and then see the change in the world (more on this later.)
As hinted at earlier, the story revolves around the character you choose (boy or girl) needing to deliver a message to the you in the sky (that’s you as in you, the player.) The character you choose to play as can be upgraded with cosmetic items that change the way you look, allowing you to play as your ideal character, regardless of how silly it may be. My guy always had a sweet bowtie, but you may opt for a more casual look as you save the world and deliver your message. The options are many and you can make him/her look any way you want. In between your constant changing of your characters looks, you’ll come across varied landscapes built in paper craft style with residents who all need help or can offer help in some way. When the game starts, most mechanics will be locked and over the course of your playtime, they will begin to open up to experiment with. For instance, something as trivial as jumping isn’t allowed until at least 45 minutes into the game. This was a little confusing at first, but you’ll quickly see that MM are trying to get you to learn the different mechanics presented so that you can better understand what makes this world tick. This learning method is smart for those who are new to video games or don’t play them very often as they are presented slowly and with purpose. Even if your little ones are obsessed with gaming and can finish any platformer on the hardest difficulty, this approach will be appreciate in the long run because of it’s ability to teach methods that will make them successful in the game. These mechanics usually unlock when new obstacles present themselves or the game’s enemies, Scraps as they are called, invade the world bringing with them darkness. Using your light mechanic on your controller (and later some other mechanics), you’ll be able to bring light back to the world and continue on your adventure to deliver your message.
There is no overt violence in the game. When you fight enemies they will usually just disappear or puff out of existence. If you’re nervous about any fighting in video games, don’t be. This is a game built around creativity and using that creative spark to solve puzzles and represent yourself in a silly but overly endearing world. You can play this game with a kid of any age in the room, but the child will need to be able to actively control a Playstation controller to get any use out of the game. This is a platformer after all and those jumps can be tricky. There isn’t any game over per se, but you will need to land those jumps and timing is often key. Just something to keep in mind when determining if it’s right for your kid.
Tearaway Unfolded, at it’s core, is an extremely child friendly game that will get enjoyment from the whole family. There is no overt violence and the cute art style will be an instant draw for kids of all ages. Media Molecule have also implemented some really creative ideas that translate outside of the video game world. As you progress in game, you’ll unlock paper crafts that you can print from your home PC and work on with your kids. This is a brilliant way to limit screen time while also keeping them invested in what they love, video games. These paper crafts can also be worked on in game as well. One of the mechanics I mentioned was the fact that you can interact with certain things in the world and then see it reflected in your game. One such instance revolves around a squirrel who needs a crown made. Using your touch pad (or via an app on your smartphone) you can draw a crown with jewels and then give it back to your character who will then pass it along to the residents of the world. Whenever you see this character again or re-visit this area, your creation will be right there for everyone to see. You can also use pictures you take with your smartphone and have them display in the world in sometimes very comical outcomes. In one instance, I took a picture of my son making a silly face and then uploaded it to the game. Whenever I came back to this area, there was my son making a goofy face and it constantly made me crack up. These few shoutouts are just a small list of the number of things you can do in Tearaway Unfolded with the family.
If you haven’t played Tearaway before, this is the time to pick it up. Unfolded is a much better game than it’s predecessor in terms of content (even if some of the mechanics may be missed) and you’ll get hours of entertainment by at the TV and away from the TV with the use of their website. Out of all of the games we have reviewed from a “kid friendly” point of view, none have impressed us like Tearaway Unfolded did with it’s cute art style and plethora of content. If you’re looking for a game that is both fun for you and your kids, look no further. Media Molecule are maestros of creativity and and it shows throughout the duration of your time spent with Tearaway Unfolded.
PS4 review code provided by Media Molecule
- Beautiful artstyle
- Incredibly creative use of the PS4's features
- Tons of content for kids both online and offline
- Making items and seeing them in game is a blast
- If you don't have the PS Camera, you miss out on some small features
- Some PS Vita mechanics are missed in this version of the game