Tearaway Unfolded Review
Let’s Embark Upon A Journey…
In a wave of 2013 releases that included The Last of Us and BioShock Infinite, it was Media Molecule’s Tearaway that fell completely under the radar for many. The Vita exclusive, to this day, still remains as one of the most underrated gems of the past five years, and so it wasn’t surprising to see Tearaway brought over to the PlayStation 4. Tearaway Unfolded isn’t just a port of the Vita version though, and while that certainly opens up new avenues to take in the way of utilizing the PlayStation 4’s DualShock 4 controller and the PlayStation Camera, it doesn’t necessarily emanate or extract the same emotions that the Vita version did, although the experience is still one that remains a genuinely charming and brilliant adventure.
Tearaway Unfolded is all about you and your messenger – whom you chose right at the beginning of the game. Your messenger, either Atoi or Iota, is set off on a course to deliver a message to you and it’s your job to guide them there. The journey isn’t an easy one though, and as you and your messenger discover – the world of Tearaway is not safe. It’s up to you to extinguish the scraps–the enemies within Tearaway Unfolded–and bring safety and sanctuary to the beautiful, paper world.
Unfolded isn’t just a retelling of the events of Tearaway, as there are new sections to discover, more activities to engage in, and it all looks a whole lot better on a TV as compared to the Vita’s OLED/LCD screen. Those who’ve played Tearaway on the PlayStation Vita will notice that quite a few areas have been changed for Unfolded, and the final act is especially different – leading to an experience that feels somewhat different but still holds the charm and beauty that made Tearaway on Vita so potent for many.
Throughout your journey you’ll discover a multitude of different locations, all moulded and crafted out of paper. It’s this art style that makes Tearaway Unfolded such a unique and often engaging world to navigate through, as the entire world reacts as if it were made out of paper. This translates over to the quirky characters that you meet on your journey as well, each telling a humorous tale of how they look, their journeys, or in some cases instructing you to make them something they can implement into their look. And this is where Media Molecule’s background in creation and creativity comes into play.
Every so often you’ll be instructed to craft an object, whether that’s for someone, something, or for the world around you. This will bring up the crafting section of the game, which looks very much like a digital cutting mat. Using the DualShock 4’s touchpad, you draw out shapes and objects with your finger to match what’s been requested, with the object you’ve just drawn then thrown into the world of Tearaway. It’s a brilliant and often hilarious way of engaging with the story and breaking the fourth wall–of which Unfolded does a lot of–as characters and the scenery surrounding you interact with your constructions in a number of different ways, pertaining to what you’ve just crafted. If you’re not too happy with your creations in-game, you can also download the Unfolded Companion App which will allow you to use the Vita or an Android/iOS phone to draw creations and take photos from the real-world and throw them into the world.
You’re also given a camera early on in the game and can go photo-mad if you’re so inclined, taking selfies with different filters and lenses or, on the other hand, taking photos of the landscape to share to the world. Included in Unfolded is an animated gif lens, too, and it enables you to make gifs of things that are happening in-game and share them with friends, those on social media platforms, and through Tearaway.me – Media Molecule’s dedicated Tearaway website that houses all of the community’s uploaded screenshots and gifs. While the current-gen consoles already house a way of taking screenshots in-game, the in-game camera is a brilliant tool to utilize and implement throughout Unfolded’s seven-hour journey thanks to the inclusion of a multitude of lens, filters, and color tones that just aren’t available in the standard screenshot mode on the PlayStation 4.
Tearaway on PlayStation Vita is considered such a precious gem because the game utilized everything the Vita offered in engaging and non-gimmicky ways. The front touch screen, the microphone, and the back-touch were all fundamental gameplay mechanics to use when navigating throughout the world of Tearaway, and taking most of that out fragments some of the creativity and enjoyment from the game.
Unfolded is entirely focused on the DualShock 4 and the space between you and your TV, and the game uses all of the features on the DualShock 4 to push that. These all play a part in how you make your way through Unfolded, although the connection you have with the game and its inhabitants feels more limited when compared to the Vita version. Combining this with the fact that when the game refers to you, if you don’t have a PlayStation Camera you’ll be looking at a bright light instead of what would otherwise be you in your living room. This, again, completely hurts the connection that is felt between your messenger and you, and acts as almost a disconnect between what the game wants you to feel and how you actually feel.
That’s not to say that Unfolded doesn’t completely cut the connection you feel with your messenger, as the story itself, the writing, and the world set in front of you is still absolutely wonderful and engaging. Add to this the expertly crafted score by Kenneth Young and Brian D’Oliveira and the brilliant sound design that brings the world to life, and Unfolded’s tale is still one that is absolutely worth diving into. It’s just going to be more apparent to those who’d played Tearaway on the Vita that the connection and emotion you’re supposed to feel in specific parts of the game often feel a little disconnected.
Tearaway Unfolded is, quite simply, an excellent game and is a must-play for those who’ve yet to experience the charm and beauty of the original Tearaway. While the new control implementations of Unfolded certainly don’t work in the favor of creating the emotional and wholesome connection that Tearaway on Vita managed to craft so wonderfully, it still manages to tell a tale that is engaging, cute, well written, and extremely heart-felt. For those who’ve experienced Tearaway on Vita, Unfolded is still worth your time, although the connection you’d once felt with this papery world might feel a little more shallow this time around.
Developer: Media Molecule, Tarsier Studios
Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment
Platform: PlayStation 4
A review copy was provided by the publisher.