Tearaway Unfolded

Tearaway UnfoldedAn adventure that’s a papercut above the restThere’s a danger that some people may dismiss Tearaway Unfolded as a tartedup version of the PS Vita incarnation and pass it by as a result. And that makes us mad for two reasons: firstly, because the original was a criminally overlooked classic that deserves to be played by all PlayStation owners; secondly, and more crucially, because Unfolded is no mere refresh.

Forget about slightly nicer graphics (they’re massively improved, actually) and mechanical tweaks that paper over old cracks (er, what cracks?) – Unfolded may revisit old levels but is at times borderline unrecognisable from Iota and Atoi’s handheld adventure.“We treat the original game a little bit like concept art,” explains creative director Rex Crowle when we visit Media Molecule’s HQ ahead of the game’s E3 showing. “It’s ‘one’ version of that thing, and now we can work into it more and bring some focus to areas we weren’t able to [before].”The obvious example to point to here would be the massively redesigned and expanded levels. As we’re walked through Wassail Orchard near the start of the game, a level much darker than its PS Vita equivalent, we marvel at new features big and small. There are entirely new puzzles built around shining light on plants at specific timed intervals by squeezing R2 and pointing your DualShock 4’s lightbar at the screen (PS Camera isn’t needed for this, in case you were wondering) in order to spit apples into bubbling pools and sprout giant leaves that bridge chasms.And there are huge amounts of extra fidelity in the world design, such as individual blades of grass/paper with noticeable thickness that flatten when trampled and spring back up when you hop along, and changeable backdrops behind the returning squirrel king that give rise to more interesting photo opps. Small touches, those, but what is Tearaway if not a collection of hundreds of small touches stuck together with Pritt Stick?Later areas boast even vaster changes. Take The Harbour. What was once a miniature hub has transformed into something much closer to Media Molecule’s original vision for the naval town: a pseudo-RPG set in a sprawling cove with a busy tavern home to all sorts of people who need help with their personal quests. Atoi can even jump on top of a paper aeroplane and fly out over the sea to visit nearby islands – each with its own features and tasks.Tearaway UnfoldedBut a hands-on scale of Gibbet Hill reveals more subtle changes at work. Platforms that you had to raise and lower with your finger must now be blown up and down with gusts of wind, triggered by swiping DualShock 4’s touchpad in different directions. It seems like a tiny distinction, but this new sweeping gesture gives Tearaway a whole new rhythm – one that invites unexpected but welcome comparisons with the likes of Rock Band should you settle into a groove and start, effectively, combo-ing your way through levels.It wouldn’t be a stretch to say your entire method of interacting with Tearaway’s world has changed. Using lightbar ‘heat’ to melt ice obstacles or tossing items to and from the pad ensures your fingers are constantly entertained in ways they weren’t on PS Vita – the urge to stroke the touchpad to listen to the sinister cackling of a pumpkin head or the sorry scream of a Scrap trapped inside proves to be irresistible.Early on in development Media Molecule tried to preserve the original’s ‘finger-poking-through-the-paper’ rear touch mechanics by asking you to flip your DualShock 4 and press its touchpad, but the process felt too contrived and so was cut altogether. It was a wise move. Now, Unfolded is a game that embraces PS4 as much as the original Tearaway gave itself wholly to PS Vita – from its controls to a brand new introduction all about the TV set you’ll be playing on, this is a game that celebrates its new home at every available opportunity.And what of You, the true star of the game? If you don’t have PS Camera you won’t find your face poking through the sun any more, but Atoi will keep glancing back over her shoulder and through the television screen to make eye contact at every opportunity to ensure you’re still there. Don’t have a mic to re-record character dialogue lines either? No problem: you can help coach the in-game voice actors by giving them feedback to still play with all the customisation elements.And customisation is a bigger part of Tearaway than ever thanks to companion app support. A second player can now influence the world by using a tablet to draw shapes and snap photos for Atoi’s most creative, crafty quests, or to simply doodle objects and push them into the world as if they were snowflakes. The PS Vita version taught us that a story isn’t a story unless it’s shared, so it’s only fitting that Unfolded is an overdue chance to enjoy the experience with friends.

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