So here’s something I haven’t done on my blog yet. It’s a Platinum Tracker post for a brand new game. Tearaway launched here last Friday and I knew it was a must-have for the PlayStation Vita so I didn’t hesitate much and got it. The fact that it’s cheaper than most other Vita retail games was also a nice bonus. Since the game is new I will avoid spoilers in the text and the screenshots I took are also spoiler-free so don’t worry if iota’s (or atoi’s) adventure is still ahead of you (or should I say, You?).
In Tearaway, the player controls an anthropomorphic envelope, called iota, on its quest to deliver a secret message to an even more mysterious recipient. We don’t really know much about this task until the very end of the game where everything suddenly sense and is incredibly rewarding. On his way, iota meets many friendly characters who try to help him and who are fascinated by the You which appears in the world’s sun. As you can see in the screenshot below, the You is… you, the player. The most interesting point about this fact is that You can directly interfere with the game’s world using all of the PS Vita’s capabilities.
Media Molecule, known for the Little Big Planet series, developed a masterpiece demo of all that Sony’s handheld can do. I believe this game should be experienced by all the other developer studios who may be wary of entering the Vita market to see what great things can be accomplished with the two cameras, the front and rear touchpads and the accelerometers. We already saw some great implementations in LBP Vita, although not developed by MM, but Tearaway is taking things to the next level. All of the actions feel intuitive and simple and are not gimmicky at all. Although shouting at your handheld may not be something you would like to do in public, what Tearaway does with the sounds you record make it worth your while. This isn’t shining light at the Vita to uncover hidden messages in Uncharted: Golden Abyss or scratching dirt from artifacts in the same title, where those things didn’t really belong and felt repetitive and tedious. In Tearaway, the Vita shines and shows what potential lies in it.
And that’s only the technical side of things. Tearaway offers much more. Both the graphical and visual design of the game are top notch. Everything, and I literally mean everything, is made out of paper. The characters, the trees, the rocks, the buildings, even the weather effects such as wind, water or waves, and all of it looks just great. On top of that, the game offers unlimited possibilities to customize the main character and many elements of the environment with both pre-built paper cut-outs or using the in-game tool to create new ones. For players who are more artistically inclined than me, this can be a game in and of itself. Still, I was satisfied with the corduroy skin I made for an elk or the four-eyed design I prepared for the pumpkin head. The options are endless and the only limit is the player’s imagination. All this sounds much like Little Big Planet with the cute, little, gibberish-speaking characters, the customization options, etc. Although the spirit of LBP is present, without a doubt, Tearaway stands its ground as another step in PS Vita evolution.
I mentioned in my previous posts that I usually play my Vita listening to something else on my phone. This wasn’t the case with Tearaway. Although the sound effects aren’t too rich, the soundtrack in the game is great. The music changes depending on which area the player is in and fits the situation perfectly on all occasions. One moment especially comes to mind, and I’ve already read other players mentioning it, is when iota jumps over giant turntables, which can be moved by the You. I must have spent some 5 minutes just making my own remix of the song playing in the game before realizing that spinning the discs is actually also part of a gameplay mechanic. Brilliant.
Tearaway is not a difficult game and getting the Platinum should also be easy for most players. It took me two days to complete all the tasks and collect everything in the game. However, some of the platforming sections require the player to be cautious and patient if no Stamps are to be lost. I will write more about them in the Memorable Trophies section. What is also worth mentioning is that there are no ‘lives’ in the game. When iota loses his Stamp, the envelope simply reappears at the latest checkpoint which is usually not farther than 10 seconds away. It’s not the point of the game to mercilessly challenge the player with near-impossible agility tests and I acknowledge it. However, Little Big Planet offered much more as far as platforming goes.
Media Molecule continues its tradition of connecting the players in a community centered around their titles. Little Big Planet has lbp.me and so Tearaway has tearaway.me. On the website the players can share pictures taken using the in-game camera as well as papercraft models which can be found in the environment and brought to life with said camera. It’s a cool idea that increases the replayability of the game and, again, allows those more artistic gamers to shine with their designs. The camera can be equipped with different lenses (wide, zoom, fast motion, etc.) and filters and has the obligatory ‘selfie’ option which makes sense since iota can be redesigned to the player’s liking.
The papercraft models are also great, although I haven’t had the chance to try one on my own yet. There’s a total of 60 models available but they first need to be found in the game and photographed. They vary as far as the difficulty and materials needed are concerned and can be printed out both in color or just in white. I believe this is an excellent opportunity to introduce younger kids to gaming and shows them that the fun doesn’t have to stop when the screen is switched off. It develops creativity and handcrafting skills and can be a great bonding experience for a child and a parent.
The trophies in Tearaway are heavily focused on collecting items and disposing of enemies. In almost every chapter of the game there is a certain number of papercraft models to be found, gifts to be opened, side-quests to be completed, Stacks to be defeated and confetti to be collected. The progress is clearly shown by pressing the Select button so it is not a problem to figure out what and where is missing. Most of the items are not that difficult to locate if you assume that the most obvious way through the chapter is usually not the one filled with collectibles. Also, since the view is sometimes fixed so as to obscure some locations, it’s very helpful to use the in-game paper camera to look around which switches the view to first person and allows to look around freely. Make use of the zoom and wide angle lenses to figure out where stuff may be. Collecting everything nets the player five gold trophies which is quite a lot. All in all, it’s not hard to get all the trophies, even without the help of any trophy guides, in 3-4 days.
| Grand Tear
|Finish the Tear without losing your Stamp|
| Wendigo Fissure
|Finish the Wendigo Fissure without losing your Stamp|
| Between the Pages
|Finish Between the Pages without losing your Stamp|
These three trophies are awarded for flawlessly completing three of the platforming sections of the game. Maybe it doesn’t sound too hard but it’s not something that can be done right off the bat and will most probably require a test run or two to get to know all the traps along the way. One of the problems with those sections is the fact that it’s not always easy to tell where our little buddy is going to land when jumping, since there is no shadow indicator below the character. This is most frustrating when jumping around floating platforms when a sudden shift in the camera angle may trigger an unnecessary left stick motion. Fortunately, by the time I made a run for those trophies, I got used to it and had pretty good control over iota. Still, it’s very useful to tackle the obstacles one at a time, planning the entire section, especially those where rear and front touchpad help is required. Obviously, it’s not Super Mario Brothers: The Lost Levels or even some of the Little Big Planet levels but it can still be challenging. I only hope there was more platforming sections like that in the game.
| Lunch Break
|Take a sepia photo of a Squirrel eating an acorn|
| Good Old Days
|Take a black and white photo of a Gopher riding an Elk|
The other two trophies I would like to mention are those that encourage the player to use the in-game paper camera. There are other sections in Tearaway, some story-related, that require the player to do something with it, but those two trophies also show that the environment can be modified to create fun pictures. Although I’m not a photographer myself, neither in real-life nor in Tearaway, there are some amazing views in the game that can be nicely captures with proper framing and filter use. Also, the Rocky and Bullwinkle reference is golden.
|Collect all the other trophies|
Did you enjoy this amazing Vita experience? What did you think of the ending? Where you surprised about the message and who the recipient was? Share your thoughts in the comments below!