PS4_Tearaway-Unfolded-e3-bannerDeveloped by Media Molecule, the creators of LittleBigPlanet, Tearaway Unfolded is a third-person adventure video game for Playstation 4 that takes players on a journey through Valleyfold, a virtual world built entirely out of paper. Yup, paper! Really makes me wonder what happens there when it rains. Does everything cockle and warp? Putting my curiosity aside, the idea to go all out with origami is a unique art style choice that I can’t help but praise and appreciate. As players navigate their character through Valleyfold, gameplay is often paused to allow for narrative storytelling and other literary devices. The narration is detailed and comical, helping to create an almost tangible connection between character and player. It’s the video game version of a buddy film, and it’s refreshingly enjoyable.

Immediately after I started the game, two narrating characters did their best impression of the Kool-Aid Man and broke the fourth wall, pulling players right into the game. The characters questioned who I was, apologized for being so curt, and asked that I clarify whether I would like to be addressed as male or female. This unique intro helps to fully immerse players into the papercraft world. A few moments later, the two narrators sent me an invitation to enter Valleyfold, and I was whisked away into their origami wonderland.

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Once players touch down in the magical paper dimension, they’ll be introduced to Iota, a male messenger, or Atoi, a female messenger. These characters will ultimately be players’ travel companions throughout the course of their budding adventure. Before I began my journey, I was instructed to utilize the light bar and motion controls on my Playstation 4 controller to shine what the game calls a “guiding light” on my messenger. The game makes great use of all the features the DualShock 4 controller has to offer. Ultimately, the guiding light mesmerized my character and created a bond between the two of us that granted me control. We were instantly best buds and wasted no time finishing each other’s sentences.

The goal is simple: Help the messenger deliver his unique message to you, the player, as you ward off enemies and villainous pieces of paper known as Scraps. These tiny, one-eyed boxes of paper continuously pour into Valleyfold through a hole that links to the real world. Quick, someone grab me the scotch tape! The Scraps terrorize Valleyfold and litter the papercraft realm with newsprint. Terrifying. It’s so unbelievably sadistic and I’m also pretty sure it’s what nightmares are made of. A paper shredder or even a pair of dull-bladed scissors would be my weapon of choice, but players can just use the guiding light to hypnotize the Scraps and drop them down holes or crush them with heavy objects. The light, which, through my experience, proved to be a very useful game tool, can also make plants grow, change the direction of the wind, and clean up that pesky newsprint. Certainly an interesting array of uses, but a fun and engaging device nonetheless.

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Tearaway Unfolded is chock full of quirkiness. The game environment is strikingly different from other platform games, and the adorable paper characters and structures are easy to love. And to drive the point home one last time: literally everything is made out of paper. Trees, clouds, light poles, you name it. I just want to start a slow clap for the artists who were creative enough to come up with so many paper versions of real-life objects. It’s all a good kind of unconventional and I was pleasantly surprised with the refreshing oddness. Stray observations and occurrences:

  • Unlike many other games there are no coins to collect along the way. Instead, there’s confetti. Brings a whole new meaning to getting paper.
  • The two narrating characters sometimes bicker about who gets to tell what part of the story.
  • There’s a personal Guide Squirrel to explain new things and help you when you get lost. He’s kind of like Clippy, the paper clip from Microsoft Word back in the day.
  • There are paper gophers that aimlessly wander around and ask you to help them complete certain tasks. You can pick them up and throw them for no reason other than fun.
  • After cleaning up some loose strands of flailing newsprint, some locals thanked me for rescuing them from the “monstrous newspaper tentacles.” Say “monstrous newspaper tentacles” out loud and tell me you didn’t laugh.
  • Red squirrels sometimes appear and help you fight Scraps. What’s up with all the squirrels, you might ask? I don’t really know, but I also don’t really care because, again, the absurdities are all part of the fun.
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Like with any other game, I had to take the time to test the waters with Tearaway Unfolded. But lucky for me, the Guide Squirrel was always there to help me when I was unsure of what to do next. Props to ride-or-die Squirrels. That said, I eventually familiarized myself with the game’s ins and outs, and came to appreciate the unique visuals, creative storytelling, and the constant breaking of the fourth wall. Tearaway Unfolded will truly make players feel like their messenger is dependent on them, and that without their help, hope for a successful mission will be lost.

I never thought I’d say this, but I can’t wait to go back and fling some paper gophers.