Tearaway Unfolded is the gaming equivalent of a hot bath. You slide into its world and relaxation takes over. It might be a little bit too hot, forcing you to hit the cold tap for a little bit, but there’s no real challenge there. If you’re of younger years, you’ll need more cold water than your adult friends, but the end result is pretty much the same.
Which makes it the perfect pallet cleanser. If you’ve just spent months battling through the challenge of Dark Souls or sneaking past the guards of Dishonoured 2, diving into Tearaway feels like a breath of fresh air. Rather than punishing you with death and destruction it gently guides you through its levels. Fall off a ledge, and it will pop you right back on it. Sometimes it even puts you where you were trying to go.
All of which happens in the confines of its beautiful world. A paper creation that has taken inspiration from pop-up storybooks, it is a work of art. The story is on the whole nonsensical, but it lets you explore your surroundings so you can’t complain too much. There’s even a touch of worry when it asks you to draw objects to place into it on the touchpad of your PS4. I doubt I’m alone in having rather clumsy fingers and I felt confident I’d muck it all up. However, even my fat hands couldn’t destroy their creation and my wretched designs slotted seamlessly in.
It’s a shame then that it occasionally falls into gimmickry. I don’t have a PlayStation Camera or microphone, but there were moments where it looked for those. While the need to twist and flick the controller to get through certain platforming sections saw the bath begin to turn cold. These touches might be what Playstation thinks gamers want but anyone who has spent any time turning the PS4 controller to control something on screen will be quick to tell them it’s not.
Then there’s the problem of the runtime. This game took me ten hours or so to finish, and by the last few I was going through the motions. If it had been six, I can’t but feel I would have come out of the game infatuated by it. Completely in love with its tender charms. But by the end (and after two false finishes) I’d had enough, and even its uplifting conclusion couldn’t get me over that.
In saying all of that, I can only imagine kids will love this game. Media Molecule makes games with distinctive styles, and the bright colours and the gentle difficulty curve are perfect for younger gamers. From the paper squirrels to the jaunty music this is a child-friendly world, and if I’d had it twenty years ago, I would have spent months exploring it.
For the adults out there, Tearaway Unfolded is a lovely place to spend time, but its flaws shine brightly. The gimmicks and the runtime turn a relaxing experience into one that sadly becomes a bit dull. It doesn’t ruin the game, but it turns it from a great one into an alright one. You reach the end and your fingers are pruned and the bubbles are long gone, but thankfully your muscles have relaxed, and the experience was worth it all the same.