Leave it to Media Molecule to find a purpose for all of those gadgets that Sony stuffed into the DualShock 4 controller. Tearaway Unfolded, a remixed edition of the Guildford-based developer's underappreciated PlayStation Vita exclusive, may feature a papery protagonist named either Iota or Atoi, but it's the PlayStation 4's input device that's the real star of the show here. You'll need to push, poke, and stroke your way through this whimsical world, and while other developers would falter at the first hurdle, the LittleBigPlanet maker somehow finds a way to make the title's gimmicky gameplay work. Of course, this will come as no surprise to some of you, as the studio's done this once already before.
In fact, it's a testament to the achievements of this papercraft platformer that it even plays on the PS4 at all. The original was so tightly woven into the fabric of Sony's flagship handheld format that a straight port was never going to happen, and so what we have here rests murkily between remaster and fully-fledged sequel. Many of the locales are, in fact, the same as those that you'll have explored on the platform holder's portable – but they're re-ordered, refreshed, and, in some cases, resized. This means that the green plains of Maypole Field now stretch on as far as the eye can see, while the seaside town of Sogport includes faraway islands and galleons bobbing brilliantly on the ocean.
The release was always a looker on the Vita, but the presentation is taken to the next level on Sony's new-gen machine. Running at a super smooth 60 frames-per-second in ultra-crisp 1080p, this is one of the better looking games on the device – despite its roots reaching all the way back to significantly less powerful hardware. Of course, it's the outstanding art direction that's doing much of the heavy lifting in this instance; director Rex Crowle and his crew have not only found a way to build a virtual diorama out of cardboard and glue, but they've also managed to make it look appealing across a ten or so hour single player campaign. It's an extraordinary achievement.
But we could wax lyrical about the stop motion-style animations and folk-cum-synthpop soundtrack all night long, and we'd merely be regurgitating our handheld review from a few years prior. Indeed, the more interesting thing about this re-release is the way in which it uses the DualShock 4 to frequently make you think about the mechanics that you have at your disposal, and how you should use them to progress. This is a game that re-invents itself more times than Madonna over the course of its running time, and you still get the impression that the developer left more ideas on the cutting room floor.
For example, relatively early into the escapade you'll obtain the ability to control the wind. This allows you to blow down barriers and obstacles by stroking the touchpad in different directions, but the mileage that the maker gets out of this one idea is amazing. You may, for instance, need to lift tissue paper flags so that you can walk on them or lower pop-up book like platforms so that you can reach faraway destinations. The light bar is also used heavily, enabling you to power up generators through the might of your controller, or stun enemies so that you can guide them to their doom when you're in a scrap.
The game arguably starts a little slowly, gradually introducing each of these ideas individually so that you have ample opportunity to wrap your head around them. But when you reach the later levels and all of these concepts are combined at once, it results in some really challenging gameplay, which is both taxing and extremely rewarding. The most important thing, though, is that the game always finds new ways to subvert these underlying ideas, meaning that you'll need to be thinking outside of the box if you want to progress – and this is especially true if you decide snag all of the title's various collectibles, which are plentiful.
Speaking of which, this isn't your standard platforming affair – it shares more in common with the collectathons that were so common during the Nintendo 64 era, occasionally giving you hubs to explore where you can go out and complete side-quests for the various people that inhabit the title's paper-based planet. These distractions are rarely deep – they typically involve creating new decorations or photographing landmarks – but the impact that these objectives have on the plot's conclusion is profound. We won't spoil the ending, but needless to say everything that you do in Tearaway has a purpose, and while it may not feel like it at first, the agency that you have over the world is something else.
And this all plays into the title's main narrative conceit: You (with a capital) are the main character. The game breaks the fourth wall with regularity in order to sell this concept, going as far as to include fake television shows to make it feel like everything is occurring inside your TV screen. The illusion isn't quite as pronounced as it was on the Vita because Media Molecule can't ensure that everyone has a PlayStation Camera, for example, but the ability to toss objects out of the game world and into your controller – among other sequences which we'll keep secret for the time being – do just enough to ensure that you feel connected to everything that's occurring in-game.
There's also second screen support for smartphones, tablets, or the Vita which essentially allows you to draw objects to send into the title, as well as take photographs and more. This is a title that leaves no aspect of the PS4 experience untouched, and while inputs like the touchpad can be a little less precise than we'd like, everything works adequately at worst and exceptionally well at best. Even the gyroscope controls, which were nightmarish on the PlayStation 3, feel extremely responsive and are used sparingly enough to make them entertaining when they do feature. The game deserves top marks for that feat alone.
It's not always perfect, though. Bizarrely for a game that gets so much right, its camera can be a teensy bit cumbersome, seemingly unsure of whether to opt for a fixed perspective or enable free rein, and it ends up occasionally frustrating as a consequence. The story structure, which has been chopped and changed, doesn't quite have the consistency of its portable predecessor either, leaping from idea to idea without articulately finding a way to tie them all together. These are nit-picks in a title that's hard to fault in other departments, but they do put the slightest dampener on the experience at times.
Tearaway Unfolded is so imaginative that you'll feel yourself wanting to applaud it at points. An occasionally clunky camera and some narrative issues do threaten to screw up this paper-based platformer, but the quirky controls and sheer variety of the gameplay will keep a smile glued to your face. Pitch-perfect presentation and a well-executed conclusion ensure that this remixed release is in tip-top shape, while the sheer wealth of collectibles give it value long after the credits roll.
As always, I'll be around to answer questions should you have any. Just copy me in to your message and I'll get back to you.
Absolutely adored Tearaway on Vita, so I'm very pleased that it's now available for many more people to discover.
Media Molecule <3
@get2sammyb Is it true that it has 50% new content?
@WanderingBullet Yes. There are landmarks and particular areas that you will recognise, but like I said in the review, it feels more like a remix than a remaster. There's a lot of new content.
@Quintumply Media Molecule are consistently amazing. What a brilliant studio.
@get2sammyb Cool, will definitely pick this up at some point. Thank you.
@Quintumply Same here. Really enjoyed the VITA version, especially the ending - it was amazing. Huge fan of both LBP and LBP2. Now, I'm just waiting for more info and some actual gameplay of Dreams.
Glad to hear it's made the transition well, I'll be stumping up!
I never had a Vita so I missed that version. Great review, I am really looking forward to this game.
@Jslade @kyleforrester87 Great, I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.
Sold. I really hope this and the likes of Yooka Laylee sell well, we need a return of the 3D platformer collectathon! Sept 11th will be expensive with this and Mario Maker.
@Neolit Yeah, I'm not 100 per cent sure, but I'm pretty confident there are a few new paper craft models in addition to the old ones. I want to say there's like 70 in the game, so lots to assemble.
@BrizzoUK Agreed, I miss these kinds of games.
@get2sammyb Good review Sammy. As someone who played the Vita version (and loved it I might add) would you say it was worth the double dip? If so, does this make the Vita version obsolete or are both games different enough?
@adf86 I think they're complementary, so neither renders the other obsolete. If you enjoyed the Vita version then it's definitely worth getting this one. The only thing I'd say is that you probably wouldn't want to play them back to back, but if it's been a while since you played the handheld release, I'd hop in with this one as soon as you can.
So this can use the PS camera too then? The camera usage in the vita version was one of the most unique features to me.
My only issue with the Vita version was that it seemed to short.
Was also looking for community built levels like LittleBigPlanet to increase gameplay.
@get2sammyb If you do have a PS Camera, can you still have your face in the sun etc or is that completely removed from this version?
Can't wait to get this - my other half played it on her Vita and I found myself hunched over her shoulder plenty of times just to watch everything going on. Magical game from a great studio.
@irken004 Yes, if you plug in the camera it works much the same way as it did in the Vita game.
@Malouff This version is definitely longer than the Vita version, though I'd argue that the handheld release is ultimately a bit tighter because of its shorter running time. They're both outstanding games either way.
@SegaBlueSky Yes, your face is still in the sun if you have a PlayStation Camera.
The review made me want the game even more, definitely a buy!
@get2sammyb For the sections that are the same are the hidden things also in the same spots or have they remixed that?
I'm very happy with my Vita version so I'll just wait for this on plus, at least more can enjoy it.
I'm def double-dipping on this.
Might have to wait until after MGS though!
@Jazzer94 good question, would also like to know the answer to that
Great review, looking forward to picking this up but with all the other stuff I'm playing at the moment might have to wait till later in the year to get my hands on it.
Loved the Vita version one of my favourite games, so much charm.
Only just played this on Vita so will wait a while before picking this up but for those that haven't I'd highly recommend it because it's fantastic.
The moment I grabbed my wallet to buy the special edition with the plush messenger...it sold out ><
I never had a Vita and was really excited when this was announced! Looking forward to playing it!
@Jazzer94 To be honest with you, I couldn't tell you. The game is built around so many new mechanics that I want to say most of this stuff is new.
To be clear this doesn't require the PS camera correct?
@WebHead No, it doesn't require any extra hardware or accessories. Just supports them.
I always hated the platforming in LBP, but Tearaway I liked. Although I should note that I didn't like it at first- it took playing for a little while for it to grow on me.
I don't think I'll buy this right now but I'll probably pick it up when it's half price or something.
@get2sammyb Will this be a game that some of us would have to write down all of the button features, just to remember them. I want this game, but I don't want to always have to look at the controls to remember them...I had to with Puppeteer and the songs in Legend Of Zelda Ocarina Of Time, but I was just curious about this.
Also, is this a platformer like Little big Planet meets Puppeteer, or something like a Simulation Platform?
@get2sammyb Do you also have to use a smartphone or vita to get any trophies, or can you earn them all without having those items for play?
this is one title that does not appeal to me, don't like the art style or the gimmickiness.... only way I'll give it a try is if its free on plus
Platinum-ed it on the Vita, great game though I'll have to wait for a price drop before I'll pick this one up.
@JLPick I'm not sure what you mean by "simulation platformer". The controls are very simple to learn, though, so I think you'll be fine. And no, you don't need a smartphone or tablet to get all of the Trophies. You don't need any extra accessories to 100% complete the game.
Can't wait to play this It's been a good PS4 Gaming year so far i think(whatever the BS the media say)
@get2sammyb I think I meant like a Sims type game (where you build things or can make your own levels like Little Big Planet), mixed with platformers.
I'm wondering if I should cancel the ps4 version and just get it for the Playstation Vita
hmmm i dont knooooohoww .. i was totally hyped for LittleBigPlanet back then but the awkward controls just turned me totally off - now I doubt the gameplay of MediaMolecule-games in general, the style and overall gameplay sure is great but I just dont get along with the controls Im sorry imo its not as fluid and on spot as Nintendo Jump and Runs
the only way I think I might play it one day is on my PSVita
@get2sammyb I just picked this game up last week...love it! Do you happen to know if any other VITA title is coming to the system, besides Gravity Rush? I could see Little Deviants being released for it, or even Hot Shots Golf Open Invitational (PS4, already own it on PS3). Also, any word on the New Hot Shots Golf Title???
I agree with the review about clunky camera, but it was nothing compared to the joy it gives you when you see a butterfly with wings that you made
10/10 for me
Additional note: I get +300 pictures in it😂
Additional note 2: this is the second time I send this comment, I reported it wrongly first time😂
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