Tearaway Unfolded: Media Molecule continues to push the envelope

As much as we love the Vita, it’s no great surprise that the relatively low install base means that even the best games on the handheld don’t get the love they deserve. It makes sense, then, that a game as delightful as Tearaway should be afforded a second chance, but it’s impressive to see Media Molecule doing so much to the experience to make it feel at home on PS4. The original game was designed to make use of every last feature of the Vita hardware and as a result, felt like a perfect showcase for the system. And by incorporating a bunch of new gameplay gimmicks and features that do exactly the same for the PS4’s controller and camera combo, Unfolded feels every bit as at home on its new platform than on the Vita.

It looked lovely on Vita but here, all upgraded to 1080p and a seemingly flawless 60fps, you can really bathe in the simply beautiful design and art direction. The world and its inhabitants are all built out of paper, leading to an angular stylised look unlike anything else out there. As in LittleBigPlanet, this also adds coherency to the game world, with no element in sight that doesn't adhere to the rules set out in the opening minutes.

Basic gameplay goes largely unchanged it’s a fairly simple and pretty tight 3D platformer at heart but it’s in the new PS4-centric mechanics that most joy is to be found. Many objects and characters can be picked up and by tilting back the controller, Iota/Atoi (based on whether you chose to play as a male or female envelope) will turn to face you. From here, he/she can throw the object out of the screen and into the controller, where it can be rattled around or tossed back into the world to help clear areas and solve puzzles. It’s a technological magic trick that younger players will get more of a kick out of than seasoned veterans but as a gameplay device, the novelty doesn't wear off as it continues to be used in new and inventive ways to solve puzzles and navigate the world.

The DualShock 4’s light bar is also called into action holding the trigger buttons causes the glow from the controller to be projected into the world, brightening up dark areas and even hypnotising feeble enemies, allowing you to lead them on a merry dance to their collective doom. The PlayStation Camera reprises its Vita role but it seems to be optional here, so while it’ll still project your face into the sun above the game world, it might not be used for mapping snaps taken onto in-game objects or other such silliness.

If you didn't play Tearaway on Vita (which, looking at the sales figures, is a statistical likelihood), this is your chance to experience the same lovely game only with a host of cool new features and content. And even if you did, the new PS4-friendly mechanics and levels will probably be enough to drag you back in anyway. It’s a little on the twee side at times, sure. But Media Molecule gets the balance right for the most part, the result being a delightful antidote to all the bullets, explosions and dudebro-following nonsense that make up so much of modern gaming.

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