Tearaway Unfolded does what Tearaway did on the Vita – it delights and surprises gamers through a level of immersion with a papercraft world that is as original as it is fun.
There are, sadly, very few Vita titles that really showcase what Sony’s handheld can do. In terms of sheer power Killzone and Uncharted immediately come to mind, but for us it’s always been Tearaway that was the real star attraction on the Vita. Blending every little hardware feature on the Vita with charming and highly innovative gameplay made this the most original and creative title on the platform – the one you tell your friends about when you want to show off your new toy. Tearaway has now jumped over to the PS4, where it hopes to enchant us once more – but without being able to rely on some of the Vita’s neat little tricks.
Tearaway Unfolded is essentially the same game as the Vita original, but the name change indicates that the game has been expanded upon and re-imagined for a different platform. Being such a hardware-dependent game, this only makes sense – and luckily the PS4 (and more specifically, its controller) have a few new tricks up their sleeve as well that weren’t available in the Vita edition. Because of this, the game will elicit a sense of deja vu from Vita veterans, while still feeling like a fresh new take on the adventures of Iota and/or Atoi.
As was the case in the original game, you control a paper character who frequently interacts with you as a player during the course of a platform adventure. In Unfolded, you play as Atoi as you try to deliver a message to – well, yourself. Since a hole has opened up in the sky that’s a direct portal to you – as a gamer in the physical world – immersion gets a whole new dimension in the world of Tearaway Unfolded. In the Vita original, you would even see yourself in the game using the built-in camera – but this is something that is only available to PS4 gamers who own (and use) a Playstation Eye camera.
The main difference between Tearaway and Tearaway Unfolded is much more fundamental than that though – from an immersion point of view at least. Using the Vita version, it always felt like you were holding a window into another world in the palm of your hand – and this world would interact with you in various ways. Tearaway Unfolded doesn’t make you carry your big screen TV around to reach the same effect, but rather shifts its point of immersion to the DualShock controller in your hand. This time around, Atoi won’t be in a world that’s physically in your hands, but will reach out to you (and you to her) by interacting with your controller.
That may sound like something awfully generic, since every game out there is controlled using a controller, but Tearaway Unfolded wouldn’t be a Tearaway game if it didn’t do this in highly original ways. For instance, you can tilt and turn your controller to aim the light bar on your controller towards areas of the screen, acting as a flashlight or a beam of sunlight that will allow plants to grow. Swiping across the controller’s touch pad makes wind flow in certain directions, and tapping it will allow Atoi to bounce. You can also catch virtual creatures “in” your controller, shake them around to agitate them, and then launch them back at the screen. Just like in the Vita version, it’s all wonderfully creative and a ton of fun. Using a Playstation Eye camera is entirely optional, but recommended. We wouldn’t have missed it if we hadn’t already played the Vita game, but the visual immersion that comes from seeing yourself and other aspects of the real world around you appear in the game just adds to the connection you already feel with Atoi.
If you never played the original game on the Vita, then Tearaway Unfolded will no doubt surprise and delight you as a wonderful piece of interactive and immersive entertainment. It’s – like Media Molecule’s Littlebigplanet – very lighthearted and emphasizes fun while keeping the different controller tricks from feeling like a gimmick. If you already own the Vita version then you might want to hold off a little to avoid full price – and spend those saving on a Playstation Eye camera. When you finally play the PS4 version, it’ll delight you just like the Vita one did.