Review: Tearaway Unfolded (PS4)
When Tearaway was first released on the PS Vita I had my reservations about it. I couldn’t see a game about origami figures being fun, but I decided to gamble on the game when it was on sale, and became a fan instantly. Its child-like charm, whimsy and creativity made it one of the best Vita games ever, standing proudly next to another PS exclusive, LittleBigPlanet. As you know, the game has been redone to fit in with the PS4, but how exactly does a game that used everything the Vita had to offer work on a PS4 with a PS4 controller? Brilliantly.
Tearaway Unfolded isn’t your run-of-the-mill port, it’s been built from the ground up to ensure that what we loved about the original was still in the new version. But I don’t want to get ahead too quickly. So let’s start this story at the beginning.
Tearaway’s message is simple: There’s a letter waiting for you, yes, YOU, and it’s up to either Atoi or Itoa (depending on which one you choose) to deliver it just for you. Your messenger is guided by your power, the power of the PS4 controller. We always control characters with a controller, but Tearaway does something magical, it includes you in the story, almost as if you’re an omnipotent guiding your messenger through their world into yours.
There’s a gaping hole between our world and the paper world, which is why the fourth wall of storytelling is broken. No longer are you a voyeur peering into a game through an invisible camera, you form part of the adventure, manipulating it at any time.
Controlling the Power of The You!
One of the biggest changes from the Vita version is the fact that you no longer actually have a Vita, instead the game was redesigned with the PS4 controller in mind, and uses everything that sucker has to offer. It uses the back light, touchpad, swiping the touchpad, shaking it around and uses other devices to fill the void the Vita left behind.
The backlight is used in a very smart way. When it’s dark, you can light up a small section of the screen by holding either L2 or R2 and waving the controller around. This allows you to control the light and move Atoi at the same time. It also brings colour back to objects that have been replaced with newspaper. In battle it stuns and hypnotises enemies, giving you a chance to strike back. The light also changes a few things in the environment, like blooming flowers or giving some of the characters a fright.
The touchpad replaces most of the touch functions of the Vita. Tapping the touch button makes any drum beat, allowing Atoi to reach higher areas. After you’ve reached a certain point in the game, you’ll be able to control wind by swiping on the touchpad. The wind system replaces the bits where you’d use your finger to unroll paper and such. It also plays a large part in some of the platforming and puzzle areas. Combatively, you can use the wind to stun enemies when they jump, giving you extra opportunity to fight back.
That’s not all. Atoi can shoot objects and enemies into the screen, where it will be stored in your controller. You can then move the controller around and shoot the object back into the game by sliding the touchpad. This can be used in combat and puzzle solving.
The wind, touchpad and back light all blend nicely and requires very little practice to get used to, however, when the levels become trickier, a certain amount of finesse is required.
What’s a Crafting Game Without Crafts?
The touchpad is also used for all the crafting, but it’s probably my least favourite use for it. Fortunately there are alternatives that you can use. Using your smartphone, tablet or PS Vita as a second screen (you’ll have to download the Sony PlayStation app first), allows you to manipulate certain parts of the game. You can take your own photos and send them into the game, or you can use the larger touchscreen to make your paper craft creations. Now and again you’ll be asked to create a little paper sticker or ornament for some character. During this paper craft session (which you can also activate whenever you want to) you use the touchpad (or any of the three peripherals I’ve mentioned) to draw and design whatever you like. Try to be as creative and artistic as you can, it’ll pay off in the end. My big problem with this is that the controller touchpad is TINY, so I highly recommend using the second screen option.
Nobody Likes Fixed Camera Angles
Another big concern of mine was the camera. Every now and again the camera goes from full control to fixed. During the transition from one to the other, the camera occasionally moves through objects (sometimes even the floor) which really shouldn’t happen. The other problem is that it will sometimes go behind an object obscuring your vision. Some of the fixed camera angles are also pretty awful, especially when you have to make tricky jumps or shots.
Other than my camera control issues, the only other thing I noticed was a little blurring of the screen, but I’m not sure if it’s meant to portray some parts of the screen being intentionally out of focus or if it’s an actual problem. Which reminds me, the built-in camera is in this version, so you’ll still be able to take photos, selfies and discover everything in Tearaway.
Unfolding My Final Thoughts
I must say, the most amazing part of Tearaway Unfolded is how well it compares to the original. The happiness and joy is still there as well as that wonderful ending, which still packs an emotional punch. Unfolded also includes a few new areas which lengthens the game a bit and the story itself is also altered to make the controller relevant. The later parts of the game are a tad too complex for small children, so if you’re buying it for a kid, make sure someone older plays with them.
Tearaway Unfolded, just like LittleBigPlanet, is a wonderful game that taps into your creative and happy side. The move from Vita to the PS4 was handled with care and the use of the controller was executed superbly. It fumbles with the camera, but it’s something that I can live with. It’s still as memorable as it used to be, but, more importantly, it’s still all about You.