Game journalists, as you may know, are a cynical bunch of jerks. That’s not entirely our fault – between snarky audiences and industry shenanigans it can be easy to forget that games are supposed to be, you know, fun. So imagine what it must’ve took to transform a group of tired, cranky critics into grinning, giggling children as they played Tearaway saying words like “delightful,” “charming,” and “SQUIRRELS!”
That last one might’ve been me. Ahem.
Tearaway is a Vita game that takes place in a world made of paper. Something has punched a hole in the sun and the real world is peeking through. It’s your job to get up into the sky and fix things, an admittedly daunting task for one as tiny and papery as you. The people and creatures you meet are willing to help you out as much as they can, though, if only to cheer you on.
Gameplay wise, Tearaway is a pretty straightforward platformer as you bounce, jump, and climb your way across the utterly 3D adorable levels. Everything in Tearaway is made from paper: you, the trees, the sun, the squirrels, everything – and it’s all enchanting. Navigating the world is like moving from smile to smile. You’ll toss papercraft apples into baskets to make a squirrel happy. You’ll use the Vita’s touchscreen to cut a crown out of yellow paper. Your avatar’s own head is a letter, complete with stamp, which contains a secret message just for you. The world of Tearaway looks like it was imagined by a bunch of first-graders, and I mean that in the most wonderful way. It’s not constrained by reality or expectations. It takes inspiration from silliness and joy. It’s giggles and glee and stickers and fun. Pretty much exactly what you’d expect from Media Molecule, the folks who invented Sackboy and the world of LittleBigPlanet.
The level I played was a gorgeous, relatively linear affair with lots of Vita tricks thrown in for good measure. At one point, a squirrel asked me to use the camera to take a picture of the “real” world; the touch screen also got some use as I put a thumb on an enormous record to slow it down enough for me to cross. The one persistent problem I had with it were the drums that worked like launchpads when you tapped the back screen on the Vita. It was just too easy for your finger to slip rather than tap, forcing you to miss what would otherwise be a relatively easy jump. It wasn’t insurmountable, but it never stopped feeling awkward.
I didn’t get to see nearly as much of Tearaway as I wanted; I’d have happily spent hours exploring that colorful, creative world. If you’re a Vita owner who’s been complaining that there aren’t enough good games, put this one on your “must have” list. You can take the time between now and when Tearaway comes out this fall to track down your Vita charge cable.