It’s typically Media Molecule that you hear the genesis of Tearaway came about as a result of one developer wanting to be able to see their fingers ‘popping up’ through the screen of the PS Vita.
From that seed comes the studio’s first non-LittleBigPlanet game: a tale of a character named Iota, living in a world made of paper, on a mission to retrieve a message for you, the player. Twee just about begins to cover it.
But this is Media Molecule, a studio known for its unfettered approach to the creative urges, so Tearaway is very much a game in that vein. From the original thought of having your fingers ‘come through’ the screen, we now have in-game mechanics of a certain tactile nature not seen before on Vita.
Reach to the back touchpad, for example, and poke at it. Your fingers appear in the game world, piercing the paper from which it is made and interacting with the characters in it. Or maybe you need to cut out an item – simply trace a finger along the touch screen in the shape required.
It’s a simple effect, but it really does bring a greater level of attachment to what’s going on. But this isn’t a case of shoehorning in as many daft little features as possible in order to tick some boxes on the Vita control scheme list. Media Molecule has approached development in a free-form, interesting way that results in innovate and sometimes unique interactions for the player.
Tearaway shows off the Vita’s graphical abilities perfectly.
It’s one time a developer has used the word ‘visceral’ to describe something about a game and we haven’t felt the need to shudder – it’s true. Tearaway plays like any other third-person adventure game you might have come across, at least until the extra control elements are encountered.
You might need to replace the skin of an elk, for example, in a scene nowhere near as gruesome as it might sound. By taking a photograph with the Vita’s rear camera, a skin of sorts is created for the creature and it can go about on its happy little way, now reskinned. Just try not to make it too obscene.
And while you are playing the game, it is paying attention to what you do. Tearaway notes what quests you decide to play and how you play them; how you customise your character and the world around them. What purpose does this serve?
All of the purpose, it turns out: the message that Iota and the player are chasing after will apply directly to how the player played. Everything you do, in the end, matters.