Sometimes come out of nowhere and burrow themselves into your brain, constantly pressing itself against your hippocampus so that you constantly think about until you finally break down in tears and rush to the nearest shop/computer and buy it to stop the incessant nagging on your cranial lobes. Tearaway Unfolded is one such game and, just to get my bias out of the way right now before people accusing me of it, yes I am reviewing Rex Crowle’s game after hyping up his Kickstarter game Knights and Bikes, but so what?!
The game opens up in blackness with disembodied voices coming out and meeting the You. The voices decide to tell a story, but can’t find one, eventually asking you to shine a light on their world. Shining this light, you open a hole in the sky into almost entirely made out of paper and a message appears, fluttering down into the world. Then the message becomes the messenger Atoi or Itoa depending if you pick female or male. With this new character born, the You must help the messenger reach the hole in sky to deliver the message through the vibrant story book world, helping it’s many inhabitant as well as fighting the scraps that are invading the world with their world, quite literally, being controlled by you.
In case this wasn’t abundantly clear this game is nostalgia fest that teleports you straight back to the world of your childhood. It exudes a childlike nostalgia as the world literally blooming into life as you walk by. But this joyous tone is not always present, allowing itself to create a darker, more tense tone that even had me wondering what was round the corner. It felt reminiscent of reading of reading your first Goosebumps books leaving you with a chill up your spine and a hunger for more.
However this game is made ingenious by its use of the PS4’s DualShock controller, allowing an entirely new dimension to be added to what could have been a pretty standard platformer. Without rehashing it’s PS Vita predecessor Tearaway (a game where you touched the screen and your fingers literally appear in the world), Tearaway Unfolded has its own story and its own mechanics that make it an joy to play.
The use of light, six axis, and most notably, the PS4’s touch pad, Tearaway Unfolded unleashes a whole host of ways for you to play the game. I must admit, until I played this game, I thought the touch pad was a bust for the PS4’s controller and I longed for the days when Start and Select were an integral part of the controller, but the minds at Media Molecule have changed all that. Having the touch pad act as a drawing pad, activate bounce pads, blow wind for puzzles, and so much more allows Tearaway Unfolded to have a unique feel that validates the touch pad’s existence.
However with all this invention comes a some teething troubles. Firstly the drawing, while fun at first, is incredibly finicky and getting a good drawing of anything was a take far beyond me and, while I loved my crappy attempts of snowflakes littering the world, something a bit easier would have been nicer. Also, even the genius ways the game played with the PS4 controller, the platforming isn’t that technical with deaths coming more often than not your own stupidity rather than any difficulty.
And while you could forgive that with great storytelling, and don’t worry about that the story telling is fantastic, but you do get the odd feeling occasionally that Tearaway Unfolded feels like it was split into three acts that were hastily joined together rather than a more smooth progression. But don’t worry though, this is the closest a game has made me come to tears of both joy and sadness in a while so the platforming is more than made up for.
But the worst offender by far is Tearaway Unfolded’s constant nagging on the use of the PlayStation app. The nagging by the squirrels (yes there are talking squirrels in this game) to use the app to put my real world pictures in the game is reminiscent of Navi. While it is a fun add on that makes the world quite interesting by having your dog’s smiling face an NPC’s face, to be constantly told what to do is annoying and starts to take you out of the experience, strangely disbarring me from the absorbing affect stories are meant to have and this game is trying to replicate.
However, with all that said, this game’s minor problems do not prevent it from being a truly enjoyable experience with a story that has made me come close to crying, a musical score that melds childlike music like that of glockenspiels, güiro’s and recorders with that of orchestra and the slower sound of dubstep. It’s an odd but weirdly satisfying soundtrack that had kept me company now as now the only second game soundtrack I have ever bought (the first being Child of Light).
Not only that, but even after finishing the game I hadn’t even cracked fifty per cent completion. There is so much to do in this game that it requires at least another two playthroughs or possibly more as the story will make you coming back n to get Atoi or Itoa’s message to you again and again. It’s funny, poignant, and makes you hunger more for a time of whimsical stories told with oodles of imagination. For those who have a PS4 I strongly recommend you get this game which, although didn’t sell well at release, mean it’s quite a cheap and excellent buy. Seriously, go get it now!