This is easily one of the best PS Vita games to date.
A few years ago, an innovative team by the name of Media Molecule practically made a name for itself overnight with the blissful LittleBigPlanet, a charming platforming adventure that gave you customization options galore, along with a boisterous community to share them with. It continued to buck the trend with the even-better sequel LittleBigPlanet 2, and even lent some insight into the joyful racing game LittleBigPlanet Karting.
So where do you go from here? Well, with a team like Media Molecule, you simply build again – and that's exactly what it's done with the wonderful Tearaway. If there's any game this year that deserves to be sold on a 1:1 ratio with the PS Vita this holiday season, it's this one. It's just about perfect.
The game puts you in the shoes of a messenger who sets out across a papier-mâché like world to deliver a message to, well, you. Along the way, he'll run into a variety of quirky characters, along with dangerous enemies that you will have to deal with.
To do so, you'll actually tear into this beautiful paper world using your fingers. You can use the touch-screen on the front to open doors; use the front PS Vita camera to put your image into the sun (don't forget to smile!); and, most importantly, you can utilize the rear touch pad to tear into the world to interact with objects, such as knocking over items to form a bridge or popping dangerous "Scraps" that could endanger the Messenger. You can also take "selfies" in the game world, if you feel so compelled. (And you might.)
As the game goes on, more intuitive gameplay options come up. Like LittleBigPlanet, Tearaway is rich in customization, whether you're changing items on the messenger himself or creating new things for your allies. It's almost like an arts and crafts class all over again, as you use paper, pencil and other tools to create items out of thin air. It's really inventive, and wonderful to play.
On top of that, the game also comes with printable blueprints, which you can use to make your own real-life creations. It takes some time for them to be put together, but it's a creative addition to the game that really draws you in further. It's a different kind of experience, and one you don't usually expect from games.
The gameplay itself is clever and consistently makes fine use of the PS Vita, but also doesn't forget to be fun. One segment where you're downing gophers into a basketball hoop (relax, they like it) is simply awesome, especially when you start making rebound trick shots usually reserved for Michael Jordan and Larry Bird. It never once gets boring, though the game does end a little too soon for its own good. DLC expansion would certainly be welcome.
At least the presentation is spot-on, and could be good enough to draw you back in for another play. The level design is outstanding, and will keep you involved as you seek out hidden Confetti treasures and other goods. The music is a real treat as well, and the gibberish-driven sound effects definitely have their own sense of charm.
Even with the short gameplay time, Tearaway is hardly a throwaway title. The presentation, gameplay and implementation of PS Vita abilities that won't wear you down are all excellent, and the fact you can create your own items – with time and patience – just makes the experience all the sweeter. This is easily one of the best PS Vita games of the year, if not the best.
RATING: 9.5 (out of 10)
(Review code provided by Sony.)
Score: 9.5 / 10