Electronic Theatre In-depth Review: Tearaway

In recent months Sony Computer Entertainment (SCE) have really stepped-up their game. With Nintendo still courting that family audience and Microsoft moving from videogame specialist to living room media hub, the floor is wide open for someone to capitalise on the core gaming demographic. At […]
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Rating: 5.0/5 (3 votes cast)

Electronic Theatre ImageIn recent months Sony Computer Entertainment (SCE) have really stepped-up their game. With Nintendo still courting that family audience and Microsoft moving from videogame specialist to living room media hub, the floor is wide open for someone to capitalise on the core gaming demographic. At present, with the PlayStation 4 delivering high on content and the PlayStation Vita picking-up speed, it appears that SCE is the company to be placing your bets on.

Tearaway is a perfect example of everything that SCE are doing right. It’s a new experience based on traditional platform videogame values, creating a fresh and exhilarating scenario that stands on its own. It’s part of a campaign thatElectronic Theatre Image sees the PlayStation Vita and PlayStation 4 working in tandem to satisfy the needs of near-any experienced videogame player, but more importantly is a joyful experience in it’s own right.

As you begin Tearaway the videogame throws a lot of questions at you without offering any kind of explanation as to what the consequences of your answers may be. This however, is part of the charm of Tearaway: it’s a videogame that exists purely to play with instinct. A core principle of the gameplay is to use the rear touchpad in a fashion that no other PlayStation Vita videogame has yet been capable of doing by incorporating the player’s touch directly into the gameplay. At specific points in the adventure the player will arrive at challenges in which they can directly interact with the floor (denoted by the four infamous PlayStation symbols on a light grey area). By pressing the rear Electronic Theatre Imagetouchpad a virtualisation of their fingers will either push against the ground or burst through it, moving objects or crushing their enemies as the gameplay requires.

At its most basic players use this to rescue good guys in distress or create new paths for their on-screen avatar to travel along, but one some progress has been made the gameplay becomes vastly more complicated. Traditional platform videogames demand that the player learn the ruleset and execute actions with increasing accuracy; with Tearaway such simple sounding techniques demand re-education simply due to the transition between button and touchpad. You’re no longer inputting commands to the world via a command prompt barrier: you are directly affecting the on-screen action with your touch.

Other key components of the gameplay use this same technique, and much of Tearaway is centred upon this touch input. Banging drums, creating objects from construction paper, spending the collected confetti to customise your on-screen avatar Electronic Theatre Imageand much more besides. Tearaway may not sound like a traditional platform videogame experience, and that’s because it isn’t: it’s a unique take on the established genre. So much so that it lacks the most fundamental of platform videogame requirements for the entire first world: a jump button.

Of course, the realisation of this gameplay is aided significantly by Tearaway’s visual design. Media Molecule, of LittleBigPlanet fame, have created a world so unique and full of charm that it’s hard not to fall in love with it. The papercraft art style runs throughout the videogame, with the world unfolding as you move through it and the player’s input literally tearing through the ground. The use of the PlayStation Vita’s front-and-rear cameras can be disparagingElectronic Theatre Image at first, seemingly at odds with the visual style despite the storyline’s attempts to explain it away, but you’ll soon realise the potential for such a technique both in terms of visual design and gameplay.

A platform videogame that brings innovation to the genre through the use of the unique features of its host format is a rare breed these days, and in Tearaway Media Molecule has created something that should be celebrated. Not only is it one of the best platform videogames of recent years, but Tearaway is also one of the best experiences currently available on PlayStation Vita. It’s a title that transcends the invisible boundaries of its genre and bright, child-friendly visual style to present an experience that any gamer worth their salt should endeavour to play, at least once. And in that, Tearaway stands as a testament to the kind of videogames that SCE will offer in their attempt to become the core gamer’s champion.

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