There comes a point when playing Tearaway where it's near impossible to remove yourself from the delightful world that developer Media Molecule has crafted. Indeed, if there was one word we could use to describe the papercraft platformer, it would be 'delightful'. Like LittleBigPlanet before it, the game doesn't appeal to just a single age group – instead, its charm knows no bounds, and its whimsical nature should be enough to make even the sternest countenance smile.
Despite the obvious comparisons to Sackboy and company, this latest imaginative property is firmly set in its own style – and what a style it is. The folded, vibrant world constantly surprises, and much like the PlayStation 3's Puppeteer, it's clear that almost every visual asset – whether interactive or not – has been crafted with the utmost care and attention to detail.
For a handheld title it's particularly impressive. The game really does give you the impression that you've got a whole world sitting in the palm of your hands, and this feeling is accentuated by the multiple ways in which the release employs the Vita's unique features to tie our own world into the experience. The front camera captures your face and pastes it onto the sun, for example, while the rear camera records the footage that's shown as your fingers burst into the landscape in order to repel baddies, giving you a sudden glimpse of reality.
It's important to note that these interconnecting moments don't harm your immersion. In fact, they help solidify the title's unique perspective; the colourful little world feels somewhat delicate, and your interactions with it play upon this sense of having something tangible in your hands.
When you're not jabbing your digits through the ground using the rear touchpad, you'll be controlling a messenger – Tearaway's answer to Sackboy. In the beginning of the game, you'll have to choose whether the messenger is male or female, Iota or Atoi. As you progress, you'll be able to spend your hard-earned paper currency – gained from pulverising enemies known as Scraps, or from simply collecting bits and pieces strewn throughout – on customisation items, which range from new sets of eyes, head accessories, or even bow ties. The options on offer are nearly limitless, as you can scale and rotate the items to any degree you see fit before slapping them onto your messenger's face.
Your energetic courier is also a joy to manoeuvre, with his or her animations lending themselves nicely to the twinkly tone that the title conveys. Skipping your way through the swaying environments is effortless as you take in the sights, and as we mentioned in a previous article, exploring more open locations can lead to some pleasant and relaxing optional gameplay. Unfortunately, the less linear areas provide the only real issue that we encountered: a stubborn camera. While it's only a minor problem, the viewpoint can often find itself stuck against scenery and refuses to budge as you try to navigate a path back towards the direction that the camera is facing.
Thankfully, we were left impressed by the game's more traditional platforming sections, in which you'll need to launch your messenger through the air using the rear touchpad. Bouncing their tiny frame is both humorous and accessible, as they glide with a forgiving trajectory while making strange noises. The obstacles in your path are generally traditional fare, but again, the title's aesthetics make them engaging. Sheets of paper curl back and forth, presenting unstable platforms where you'll have to time your jumps to get across. Meanwhile, you'll often need to combine touch controls with analogue input, as you carefully guide your messenger across gorges while they're precariously balanced atop a giant paper cylinder.
Given the Vita's current situation, it's difficult to imagine that Tearaway will have the same impact on the gaming scene that LittleBigPlanet did back in 2008, but we're confident that Media Molecule's latest project will further the studio's trademark sense of style. If the rest of the game turns out to be as engaging and delightful as its first couple of hours, then there's no doubt that this will become one of the platform's best titles.
Are you eager to wrap yourself up in Tearaway's picturesque papercraft world? Has the title's less than ideal release date forced you to rip up your plans to purchase the adventure at release? Scribble some feedback in the comments section below.