Tearing away jadedness

Dear Atoi,Our first meeting was one that left me a little nervous. To be honest, I just wasn’t sure how it was going to turn out. Please don’t get me wrong, as it was nothing about you on a personal level. It was more my reservations for the way we’d be meeting.

I suppose that I was worried that you wouldn’t be given a chance to show your true personality. I’ve seen characters like you come along before, bright-eyed and eager to shine in their own special way, only to be used by companies as a means to sell us consumers on the virtues of their products. “Look what little Atoi can do thanks to the Vita’s many gimmicks,” I remember hearing during conversations about your upcoming debut. “You’ll be helping her—or her alter ego, Iota—have exciting adventures by reaching directly into their worlds via the Vita’s touch surfaces! Virtually, of course.”

Sometimes we can become jaded, Atoi. Sometimes we feel like we’ve seen or done it all, and sometimes we feel as if true passion is missing from what we encounter around us.

I was there, as you were born, the colorful scraps of paper that would make up your body coming together. I heard the same booming voices that you did, telling you that you had a message—a special, important message—that must be delivered. Delivered to the “You,” a mysterious-yet-powerful being that was looking down upon your world.

I must admit, I wasn’t too keen on playing a direct part in your story at first. Seeing my actual face appear in your world via the magic of cameras was, really, more than a little off-putting. Maybe it was embarrassment, or shyness, or the fact that I look to stories like yours to escape reality—not be reminded of it.

But then, you looked up at me, with a face so earnest and expressive. Those ordinary pieces of paper came to life in a way that I never would have imagined. Black-and-white circles shaped eyes that tried to take in everything they were seeing for the first time; squiggles moved as a mouth, gasping at being introduced to this You that looked down upon you as a face in the sun.

Thinking back to that moment, you captured my heart in an instant. Or, perhaps, melted it. I knew I wanted to help you on your journey. I knew that I had to protect you from whatever threats may lie along your path.

We ventured into your world, and I was in awe just as much as you. It dazzled me with the amount of emotion, personality, and vibrancy it could display as a living scrapbook. Trees cut from green construction paper swayed in the wind; waves from an ocean of glue lapped against the shores of Sogport; ink fell like rain, leaving purple puddles on whatever it hit. Now, this very week, I stand on the edge of two brave new realities, each promising to take me to places previous digital domains could never dream of displaying. And yet, there, with you, in that papercraft kingdom so simple yet so complex, I felt more connection to the land, more expression from its design than anything I’ve witnessed lately.

There were troubles, sure. Now and then our means of connection felt strained by what we encountered, causing our view to stutter a bit until the complexity of your world or the monstrosities we faced died down. Sometimes you’d make your way into a position that I couldn’t see so well, and I’d feel a little disoriented until you moved back more into view.

And while I’m somewhat ashamed to admit it, I had expected your journey to be a harder trek than it ended up being. Of course, I was thankful that you made it through in one piece—barring some temporary setbacks here or there due to a missed jump or an enemy’s attack. Had you been lost along the way, I’d have never forgiven myself for having been part of the cause of your being in that position. We fought together, you and I; you grabbing those nasty creatures called Scraps and tossing them away, or taking a more direct approach with that strange squeeze-box weapon you were given, and I, my fingers bursting into your world to defend you from harm or flinging Scraps out of sight. However, I know we could have overcome much harder challenges than we faced. “Strength through adversity,” as they say.

What I realized though, Atoi, was that those thoughts soon washed away. The little downs our journey held were made up for by incredible highs. We didn’t just explore that world of paper, we took to our workbench, pulled out our own blank sheets of color, and added to it, changed it, crafted it. We gave a squirrel back his crown; we made a towering mountain snow cherry blossoms; we helped a scarecrow find his smile. We met so many interesting animals and saw such fantastical places. We were there together no matter if we were quietly walking through a field, fighting off fiendish Scraps, or solving brain-teasing challenges that threatened to block your progress.

Through it all, you never gave up hope. You never stopped believing in your ability to reach me. It was that simple challenge—the delivery of a message—that filled my heart with joy and satisfaction, far more than any scraps with Scraps or perplexing puzzles. You reminded me that, sometimes, we don’t need adversity to stand in our way along the road. Sometimes, the experience we have from simply walking that road is enough.

In the end, as your story took me to places I’d rarely been before—places where the mixing of the virtual and the real actually paid off—I didn’t want our time to end. I didn’t want to leave your home of paper and its warm, welcoming embrace. More than that, I didn’t want to leave you. I wanted us to have more adventures together. I wanted to head off to other unseen places, eager to discover what waited us there.

But, our time did end, and while it was bittersweet, it was also sweet. Maybe, someday, you’ll have another message to deliver—and on that day, your smiling face will welcome me to a whole new tale to tell. Until that day, I’ll cherish the time we did have together.

You didn’t just deliver me a message, Atoi—you delivered so much more.

Your friend,

Developer: Media Molecule • Publisher: SCEA • ESRB: E – Everyone • Release Date: 11.22.2013
Tearaway follows in the footsteps of Gravity Rush as an example of why you should own a Vita. While it isn’t always perfect as a game, it’s an amazing experience, providing an exciting and emotional journey through a world of beauty and personality.
The Good An endearing cast of characters lead you through a wonderfully charming adventure.
The Bad Showing off your creative side via touchscreen-based crafting can be tough due to your fingers getting in the way.
The Ugly Every other game I’m playing now, in my eyes, thanks to Tearaway’s utterly gorgeous papercraft world.
Tearaway is available exclusively on the PlayStation Vita.


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About Mollie L Patterson

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Mollie got her start in games media via the crazy world of gaming fanzines, and now works at EGM with the goal of covering all of the weird Japanese and niche releases that nobody else on staff cares about. She’s active in the gaming community on a personal level, and an outspoken voice on topics such as equality in gaming, consumer rights, and good UI. Find her on Twitter @mollipen.