Tearaway Unfolded for PS4 developed by Media Molecule
From the creators of Little Big Planet, Media Molecule’s Tearaway Unfolded is the magical paper world that starts and ends with YOU. Previously available exclusively to the PS Vita it has been recreated to make full use of the PS4’s controller potential and targets 1080p and 60fps. Developers have added new regions, characters, collectables & an exciting storyline. It is a uniquely customisable experience both in game and by a second user through the Playstation app (on a tablet, smartphone or a Vita) as a second screen – before bringing the experience out into the real 3D world.
Before its official UK release on Friday September 11th 2015 my family and I were sent an exclusive media kit with a copy of the game and here is what we thought.
The Story to the Game
This game introduces itself in a very bizarre manner. It opens up with very little on the screen and two voices that exclaim upon noticing your presence. They address you as a YOU, and begin flicking through a series of mock TV channels (which both sneakily and jokily foreshadow the game to come), in order to find an interesting story. However, that ends up being unsuccessful, so they decide to make their own story.
The story begins with a hole that opens up in the sky, in their world, in order for it to connect to our world. They invite you to their notably abstract paper world, and say they have a message to send to the YOU. However, the message is unable to be delivered without a messenger, so the envelope is brought to life: it becomes its own messenger! The messenger consists of the envelope they are delivering for their head, while the rest of their body is made up of paper. They are called Atoi, if female or Iota, if male (a backwards female). Immediately after the creation of the messenger, you have no control over the messenger, but can guide them by shining a spotlight upon them. With a bond formed shortly after, you gain the control of Atoi/Iota and can set them off on their journey.
The main goal of the game is to lead the messenger to the tear in the sky that leads to the real world, so they can deliver the envelope that is addressed to the player. While heading towards this overall objective, you’ll encounter a variety of other tasks such as platforming, solving puzzles and enemies to defeat. What would be a fairly basic plot, contains twists in the story to hinder the otherwise simple task of getting from A to B.
Every message is different depending on how the game is played – a bit like those chose your own stories where which path you take determines where you go next. This not only makes the game unique for the user but it also gives the game long life as when you have finished you can start again with a different outcome.
The fundamental gameplay aspects of Tearaway Unfolded make use of the capacity of the PS4 controller utilising the touchpad (for numerous abilities), light bar (for spotlight) as well as paper crafting (inside and out of game play). Other major features include good customisation and the camera.
The PS4 touchpad I feel that is seldom used well as it could be utilised, gets some much appreciated love in Tearaway Unfolded. Here the touchpad is for interacting with environmental objects and is incorporated into platforming, puzzles and eradicating baddies. For example, the first of which is the ability to ‘hit’ ginormous drums by pressing the touchpad: these are used for launching the messenger, objects, npcs* and even enemies into the air. Later on the as you progress though the game, you gain more abilities, such as being able to control the wind, with the direction being whichever way you swipe on the touchpad. The touchpad is also used to customise the game (see below).
The PS4 light bar is utilised whenever it is dark to create a spotlight, to interact with objects and enemies (as well as lighting up the darkness). It is activated by holding either L2 or R2 and controlled by tilting the controller – and this is explained during game play. For example, shining the light on Scraps (the first enemy to be properly introduced), causes them to become hypnotised and will follow where ever it is pointing, even if it leads to their own demise.
Introducing game mechanics
At the start of the game, the messenger is unable to jump. When beginning the game, one of the first things players may instinctively try, is pressing X to jump. However, instead of jumping, the newly created messenger looks puzzled with a question mark above their head. The game introduces other means of launching the player into the air, such as bounce pads and drums. These are first demonstrated and the player is tutored on how these mechanics work, by making them climb ledges, without allowing them to jump on their own. After completing several levels, the player reaches a ledge they cannot climb and there are none of the previous methods of climbing it available. However, nearby is a large circular pad with an X upon it, which the player is prompted to stand on it and press X. This launches them high up into the air and when the player lands they’ll find themselves in stuck in a pit, but they have now gained the ability to jump which is used for getting out of the pit and continue up the ledge they couldn’t previously climb. Iota/Aoti are able to catch and throw however.
The third Person camera is controlled with the right analogue stick. Usually you have full control on the angle, but some areas it is restricted or tries to make it face a particular direction. You can also plug in your PS4 camera so that the game can see you – but unfortunately we do not have one so cannot tell you more about that.
Towards the end of the first level you receive the camera, and can be accessed at almost any time from then on by pressing Triangle. It allows you to take photos of objects, places and characters in game, which can then be uploaded to Tearaway.me. The camera can be angled by tilting the controller and the focus can be set with the touchpad and here are many tools available for making photos how you like them to be. Different colour filters and lens can be purchased with confetti: one of the lenses even allows you to create short animated GIFs. You can still also move the character freely while using the camera to position exactly where you want the picture to be. By default, photos are taken in first person, but there is also a tripod that can be placed for taking photos in third person.
As you play through the game, you may see objects and npcs* that appear to lack colour and require your help. By taking a photo of them, it restores their colour and in return you are awarded with a model of that object or character.
One of the great aspects to Tearaway Unfolded is how each game can be personalised by the player and via the Companion app. As you play, you are likely to accumulate lots of confetti, which is the in-game currency. It is earned by picking it up around the world and there is more hidden inside presents, and is primarily used for buying stickers and other customisation options for you to use. Atoi/Iota, and various other npcs* can be decorated however the player chooses (choose to give a pig ten eyes if you wish). Besides the premade stickers, you can also make your own decorations using the paper craft tools. Here you use the touchpad to draw shapes and can cut them out and make objects you can use for decorating.
You can use premade objects/photos or choose to create your own objects to decorate with. Your creation can be made up of a collection of shapes that you draw and can be mirrored, rotated, scaled and copied. When making your own objects, you are presented with a crafting area and a selection of coloured paper to use. You create shapes by drawing on the touchpad and can cut them using the scalpel tool. Shapes can be moved about and stuck to other shapes by placing them on top of each other. When you have finished making your object, move the bottom most shape (the one that the rest of the shapes are stuck to), into the envelope which then saves the object for later use. You can also take photos of things and put them into the game. Slap your face onto a npc*… why not? Depending on how the game is being played will determine how that appears on the screen. You can access your creations at any point during the game.
Admittedly, using it was a bit tricky, as the cursor has an outline that sometimes blocks you from seeing what you are making, and the lack of being able to zoom in may mean you’ll make mistakes and as there’s no undo and no mirroring or grid tools, but overall it works well enough, given that most of what you make is probably going to look silly regardless (plus it keeps it simple).
Tearaway Unfolded is only a one player game but by using the Companion app a second player can add to the game by sending in photographs and custom papercrafts via the second screen option. This is currently limited to only one extra screen. This can be helpful to the player or just to annoy them!
Players will be rewarded with over 60 real papercraft plans of their creatures, objects and characters from the game. Share your designs or see others’ by visiting www.tearaway.me. There you will have access to your papercraft collection, in-game photos and photos taken by the rest of the community.
You can view the models you’ve unlocked and download a PDF containing the model template. Each model has is given a crafting difficulty and required tools to make them are shown. The website also gives the options to use darker outlines on the model, print of instructions, reference photo and cutting guide. With this you can craft the model yourself in real life. The papercraft PDF models come complete with very good instructions – including things like when to cut or fold, how to print them out, advice on how to build them and the complexity level for each design.
Once you’ve made your model, you could also choose to decorate it and upload a photo of it to tearaway.me for others to see. There are two main types of model you can create, au naturel (model is not coloured) and coloured (model is coloured to match how it looks in the game), though some models are also available in a third type, known as doodle. The doodle variations can be slightly different in shape to the other two and most notably are covered in many doodles drawn by the developers.
While you cannot directly modify templates in game, you could modify the template yourself and add to the design to make it unique. While more people may be inclined to make their own designs if they could design them in-game, it does encourage people to be more creative and have to get more into the crafting aspect themselves. Tearaway.me has many photos of models other people have created and decorated and can be used for inspiration.
As a mother who does not get much time for computer games I thought that it was a really easy game to get in to. All the controls and what to do were clearly explained and there were clues for problems I got stuck on. I like how it let me be creative and also how I could join in via the second screen whilst my son was playing. It taught me about in game photos too. I feel it is a great game for children as it encourages them to use their creative sides and helps with fine motor development when using the printed out PDFs.
As a regular gamer my son enjoyed the game, as it has nice aesthetics, and customisation is something he probably spends too much time on. He appreciated that it made good use of the PS4 controller’s capabilities. The only drawback he felt was that it could be a bit slow in that he would take ages to travel to an area to find that it had nothing in it. All in all he really enjoyed Tearaway Unfolded.
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* non-played character. These are other characters that you see in the game that you do not control, such as the squirrels and the (abstract) people you see.
I was sent a media kit including an early release review copy of the game. All words and opinions are that of my own and my 18 year old son who is off to University as he would love to design games like this for a living. No other financial compensation has been given.