Getting Ripped

For some, Tearaway‘s features read like a compilation of gaming’s most notorious.

*Augmented Reality puts YOU in the game!
*Touch Controls to leave your (literal) mark with!
*Motion controls for extra accuracy!
*Use the microphone because that’s rad!

I suppose we’ve been conditioned to expect the worse of anything that extends beyond the buttons and sticks of our controllers. There are bad examples out there, games that resort to a list like that just for the sake of it.

But Tearaway isn’t that type of game, with its use of those features as far from gimmick as it gets.

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The folks at Media Molecule use everything the Vita provides, not to be as distinctively a ‘Vita game’ as possible, but because it allows them to tell a story they couldn’t otherwise. Anyone can incorporate every aspect of the hardware, it takes real creativity to put it to good use.

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As you can tell, Tearaway is a real dime. Homemade aesthetics have been attempted before (Media Molecule’s own LittleBigPlanet, Kirby’s Epic Yarn), but few have ever been as consistent. The world looks and feels built, as if you could recreate your surroundings with a pallette or two of coloured paper. Your interaction lends to this, as the player touches the screen to fold and manipulate highlighted pieces of the environment. Your role (yes you, the player) is of a god in this world. The avatar, Iota or Atoi, is an envelope brought to life. Together, you must unite, crafting the story as you go. Your effect on the world is profound; you tear apart the landscape with the rear touch pad, design and create decals for the avatar, and aid in combat. The inhabitants of the world are in awe of you, but there remains some fear. Your appearance also marked the arrival of Scraps, little boxes of paper that are terrorizing this world. It’s a lot to take for the creatures of Tearaway, and this added wrinkle of uncertainty of your presence makes me love the game so much more.

For as much as I adore Tearaway‘s world and themes, I’m grateful that it plays just as wonderfully. Atoi controls well, and whether you’re a LittleBigPlanet fan or not, the jump physics are markedly different from that series.

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The progression is linear, with Atoi hopping from world to world as the story unfolds. Tremendously, Tearaway does not lock content away, there’s no gates that open with 56 Macguffins. As well, the various goodies to find in Tearaway’s corners are entirely optional. Aside from the increase in a percentage readout, they only provide confetti, a currency of sorts used to buy the decorations you use to decorate Atoi’s body and her world.

Viewing that world and the changes you’ve made is problematic, as sometimes the game wrestles camera control away from you, either allowing some manipulation, or none at all. This never lead to any deaths, but it does a disservice to the new world around you. As much as you want to look, sometimes you just can’t.

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Tearaway is a necessary experience. Not only is it beautiful, but the ability to play a role in its beauty is unmatched. Not only did I play a game, I made an impact. Seeing your influence on the world presented back to you in the game’s ending is stirring, and won’t be something I forget.

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