What a joy it is to see Tearaway land on the PS4, especially if you don’t own a PS Vita and always wanted to try Media Molecule’s much-loved title. Crucially, for fans of the original, there’s enough new material here to justify owning both versions.
The Vita’s plethora of control inputs were a perfect fit for Tearaway’s ambitious ideas. Thankfully, the DualShock 4 performs admirably too, with the trackpad bearing much of the workload, which I’ll tell you about soon enough.
If you’re new to Media Molecule’s other platformer created after LittleBigPlanet, you’ll find an excellent experience that’s just become the PS4’s best platformer – not that the competition is strong right now. You control Iota, a little fella with an envelope for a face. Don’t worry, just go with it.
The entire game world is made of paper and has a hand-crafted aesthetic, albeit one animated with assuring fluidity. There’s no stop-motion juddering here. Iota has to navigate a variety of worlds, via traditional platforming and using the power of his ‘You’ (that’s you!) as a deity companion to help him through.
Your god-like powers involve clicking the DualShock 4’s trackpad to thump drum surfaces to bounce Iota or other objects around a stage. Directional strokes of the trackpad blow wind to peel open the paper sides of building, unravel rolled up platforms or even part the sea, Moses-style.
Iota can throw items to you so you can then throw them at areas he can’t reach. When he throws something at the screen, it’s effectively ‘inside’ your DualShock 4. Rattle the controller and whatever’s inside will make a noise through the pad’s speaker, be it a rock or an annoyed squirrel. It’s massively entertaining for kids, and probably you too. To launch objects back at the screen, just flick your finger up the trackpad after aiming by moving the controller around.
The pad’s motion-control features also play an important part in darker stages where you shine a light at the screen in the same shape as the light-bar on the DualShock 4. The creativity with direct player interaction frankly puts other games to shame.
Iota will have to fight every now and then, which is where things get a little flustered. Instead of punching enemies like most platformers, he’ll rely on you to soften up enemies before he can dispatch them. You can use the guided light to lead enemies into traps or dazzle them. If Iota hops on springy enemies, he’ll flip them over for you to use the trackpad to poke them out of existence. Iota can pick up and throw dazed enemies at each other to destroy them, but he’ll frequently throw them to you instead, making some fights last longer than they should. Thankfully, any deaths in combat aren’t really punished as you’ll respawn with defeated enemies staying defeated. Checkpoints between areas during regular platforming sections can vary, but there were only a few restart points I deemed a little harsh.
Another gameplay element that you, or your younger ones, might enjoy is using the in-game camera to take pictures of the world or the scrap board to create items for decoration in the game. A squirrel might want a new crown, a realm’s a new emblem, or the local butterflies need new wings. You can draw anything, so don’t worry about it looking like what it’s supposed too. A good thing accuracy isn’t needed too, as the trackpad isn’t up to delicate drawing motions to the same degree the Vita’s touchscreen. That said, you can use a mobile/tablet as an extra screen for these parts or even have a friend play alongside you taking pics with the tablet’s camera and having them appear-in-game or reinventing the shapes of snowflakes or airborne debris that follows you around. Don’t forget, nobody wants to live in a world where snowflakes are shaped like wangs.
The physical platforming is much more responsive than Sackboy’s floaty hops. And as much as we love the Vita version, the DS4’s analogue stick is far superior with more precise movements. More unique elements over other platformer games include rotating the controller to move some platforms, meaning you’ll be doing some sections with the controller wrenched around at strange angles in order to get through – close the curtains. I was very impressed with the game of Twister I found my fingers in for the platforms activated via the different buttons on the controller as Iota made his way through a factory full of DualShock 4 parts. It all gets a bit meta and you’re going to love it.
- So many uses for the DualShock 4
- Thoughtful world design
- Family-friendly fun that anyone can enjoy
- Fights can be a little clumsy with accidental throwing
- Trackpad isn’t great for drawing
- Too cute?
The Short Version: Tearaway Unfolded has found a new home on the PS4 and contains plenty of new ways to use the DualShock 4 for unique in-game interactions. It’s still worth owning if you’ve played the Vita version too. Difficulty is nicely balanced for players of all abilities and there are lots of collectibles for completionists to find.
Developers: Media Molecule