Tearaway: Papercraft Platformer

Tearaway is a 3D platformer developed by Media Molecule and published by Sony. It released in November 2013 for the PlayStation Vita. A remaster was released on the PS4 in September of 2015. I played the PlayStation Vita version in 2020.

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Basically, Tearaway is the love child between Yoshi’s Crafted World and Super Mario 3D Land. If you like cute games, then this game will be hazardous to your health.

Seriously. The game world is entirely made out of paper, with delightful details in the environment’s animations — the paper flowers unfold as they “bloom,” sheets of blue ocean paper curl towards you, mimicking a wave, and small white snowflakes swirl around in the wind. I wish someone would make a real-life diorama of these levels, they would be stunning.

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Gameplay-wise, Tearaway has a bit of an identity issue. The devs, Media Molecule, developed the Little Big Planet series, and you can tell that they have experience with level design. The platforming segments are inventive and well-paced, as good as the afore-mentioned Super Mario 3D Land. They are solid linear levels.

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However, the devs also included several explorable semi-open world areas. These areas look pretty, but outside of finding confetti collectibles, there’s not much to do in them. Unlike Gravity Rush, where the collectibles are both fun to collect and tie into useful progression, the confetti only unlocks cosmetic details for the player avatar. They’re cute, but shallow.

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The devs also wanted to use all of the Vita’s features for the game, which most of the time amounts to inoffensive side tasks, like taking a picture of an animal, or using your fingers on the Vita’s back touch pad to take out the enemies. However, other times these features forced awkward interruptions to the game’s pace. In almost every level I had to stop and make a cute paper crown or a paper fire with the touch screen controls, then decorate a new character before moving on. It wasn’t so bad once or twice, but after a while it got on my nerves.

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The game also has a charming narrative about your player character being a messenger trying to reach the “sun,” which happens to be you with the forward-facing camera. If your deepest heart’s desire was to become a grumpy Teletubby Sun Baby, your wish is granted.

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I’m just a precious little ray of sunshine.

But the story becomes more about self-identity and choosing your own path. It hits you on the head with this theme over and over again, but I think they did it to “market to children,” even though we all know that good children’s media doesn’t show you all its cards. I guess it’s not a bad message to beat someone over with, though, so I can’t get too annoyed.

Because Tearaway was designed so specifically for the Vita, I don’t know how the PS4 remaster compares. I don’t know if I can recommend that version. But if you’re a platformer fan, you can’t go wrong with this game.

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