Tearaway’s secret message & gameplay explained – Media Molecule talk about crafting its Vita adventure

“I’m not allowed to talk about the secrets of the message,” says Media Molecule’s James Spafford. Immediately making the thing a million times more exciting. He will explain the idea behind Tearaway’s hidden surprise though: “Basically Iota [the hero] is a little papery messenger from another dimension. At the beginning of the game this letter will be delivered but it won’t be able to reach you and this little messenger, Iota, is your new friend”.

Tearaway’s secret message explained

So Iota (or Atoi if you’re playing as the female version) is both messenger and message. “Inside their envelope head is this unique thing they’re trying to get to you but they can’t, so the whole game is basically you and Iota going on this adventure together, so that ultimately you can read what’s inside.” It’s an interesting idea and one Spafford won’t say any more on. “I think we’ll be talking more about it around E3”.

Tearaway ps vita screensThis journey you undertake with Iota involves a papercraft world full of cardboard trees and folded monsters. “It’s like an open world-feeling game and then there are points where it becomes more narrow and ‘levelly’”, explains Spafford. These different areas will offer a variety of things to do. “There’s one you may have seen called ‘The Lab’ and that’s far more like a little level with a route running through it that you have to progress through,” he says, “more like a typical action platformer. But the other bit has more of a playground feel to it. Play around, come back and forth, travel around the place. There’ll be several areas like this throughout the game”.

While there are ‘levelly’ levels and more open areas, progression occurs largely via the story. “There are little quests as you go through, but it’s also a story-based game and as you progress through the story more and more of it will unlock” says Spafford. “As I said, it’s an open world feel but it isn’t actually open world, it has a linear progression but with the feel of it being a bit larger”.

“As you go through the game you’ll unlock these collectibles and you can print them out”

While Tearaway isn’t a creative game as LittleBigPlanet was, it is still creative in a way, letting you print off plans for in-game objects and build them in real life (check out Tearaway’s papercraft Moose for an idea). “As you go through the game you’ll unlock these trophies, these collectibles, on a website and from there, you can just print them straight out”. The system uses your PS Vita’s PSN login so everything updates as you play.

As well as letting you build your own paper wendigos in real life, Tearaway is a very tactile game utilising most of the Vita’s various inputs. “There’s front touch, so you can touch some things and pull them around the world” explains Spafford. “It uses the microphone so if you’re talking there are little particles floating around and if you talk loudly it has a gust of wind that blows them around. Every time you make a noise, you’ll see an affect and you can tilt the world around”.

It also uses a few tricks to help put you in the game and build on the idea that you and Iota on a journey together. “It uses the front and back cameras,” says Spafford. “It uses the back camera  when you push your fingers through for the holes around your fingers so whatever’s behind you at the time it’ll show it, so it really feels like there’s a hole in the game and your fingers are coming through. The front camera’s used sometimes to show your picture and there’ll be strange times where you’ll peel back some paper and you’ll see your face”.

“You’re as much a character as Iota in the game”

The effect is to make you “as much a character as Iota in the game”. Spafford says, “The game is aware of you and it reacts to what you’re doing, it knows you’re there, Iota knows you’re there as well, so it’s a buddy adventure between you guys, you’re going through it together”.

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