Tearaway is one of those games that instantly hits you as charming. After a few minutes in you’ll find yourself smiling at the personality of the game; the characters, the environment, the things to do and places to see, it all simply oozes charm and reduces the player to a big smiling fool. So all’s well in the world and we’re off to a good start.
It’s impossible to review Tearaway without mentioning the graphics and overall appearance. Tearaway takes place in a papercraft world wherein all objects act like paper, look like paper and usually behave like paper. There are some exceptions for the sake of whimsy, but in general it creates a wonderful world that you could look at all day. The game engine handles things perfectly and you’ll seldom notice any drops in frame-rate or anything else to snap you out of the wonderful illusion that is the Tearaway world. The visuals are combined with a wonderful level of interactivity, incorporating the gamer as the game world’s sun, often cutting to your own ugly mug via the Vita’s camera and simply amplifying the charm offensive still further. Tearaway can easily be played as an episode in charm and you would probably get the same levels of enjoyment from the title.
The interactivity of Tearaway and focus on that papercraft world continues as the gamer progresses within the game. Tasks will involve creating papercraft objects, solving papercraft puzzles and generally playing with papercraft. There’s an entire online companion website for creating papercraft models, wherein you can use the papercraft acquired in game to produce these real world models. Surely Media Molecule must have investment in the arts and crafts industry and if they haven’t, they’ve definitely missed a trick. It’s possible to fly through these puzzle elements doing the bare minimum, perhaps those that aren’t enamoured with Tearaway’s charm will do this, but it’s far more likely that you’ll spend around thirty minutes on each puzzle creating all manor of weird and wonderful papercraft monstrosities.
If you stare into the heart of Tearaway, looking beyond the gorgeous papercraft world and beyond the levels of charm, you’ll actually find that the game is fairly dull. Progression is based in a 3D world, similar to Mario 3D Land but with no tricky jumps or particularly clever level design, simply tasking the player to move through the game world and occasionally stopping to fight a group of enemies. It’s testament to the quality and level of engagement Tearaway creates that despite all these fairly major individual problems, you’ll seldom notice these failings and continue to play through having a cracking amount of fun.
One issue that cannot be ignored is the length of Tearaway. It’s a very short game and can be completed in four to six hours and then clocked within another couple of hours. If you count printing off paper craft models and creating your own little Tearaway model set then there’s more to the game than just the adventure, but this will probably not appeal beyond the initial novelty and it’ll certainly not be viable to most children out there without first roping in mum and dad. It’s a shame that Tearaway is so short, but it does raise questions as to whether Media Molecule were beginning to run out of ideas especially as the last area is lacklustre at best so maybe it’s better the experience end there rather than dragging the game down with further half-baked and malformed level design and tedium.
Tearaway is a game that drips with charm. It’s not the gaming revolution that many had hoped for but it’s certainly a great experience while it lasts and deserves to be experienced at least once.