Many an eyebrow shifted when the PlayStation Vita’s unique feature set was revealed. Packed with front and read touch surfaces, SIXAXIS tilt sensing, microphones, front and rear cameras and more, this was a device that threw in everything but the kitchen sink. Many struggled to see how videogames such as Uncharted: Golden Abyss would find suitable uses for these extras, and implementation was often forced. But there was one experience, one joyful, glorious adventure that sewed these mechanics together into a perfect package; Tearaway.
Media Molecule’s handheld debut justified the Vita’s robust set of features. The camera brought players into the world while the touchscreen allowed them to make their own paper craft creations that would appear on characters. The microphone could be used to scare away enemies while tapping the rear touchpad would vibrate the world at certain points, sending Atoi/Iota hurtling upwards. The developer found fitting, appropriate ways to utilise each of the Vita’s features and it’s set to do as much again on PlayStation 4 this week with Tearaway Unfolded. The series’ commitment to creativity and innovation begs the question; what could it do with Project Morpheus?
Some of the most interesting virtual reality (VR) projects in development right now don’t focus on the immersion or sense of presence so much as the mechanics of the new technology. Head-tracking may first and foremost be designed to mirror a player’s real field of vision, but it also provides a new form of camera control, free from the DualShock 4’s right stick. Positional tracking also allows players to truly invest themselves in the world, moving their head to peek over objects and around corners. Simply put, Sony Computer Entertainment’s (SCE’s) head-mounted display (HMD) is loaded with tricks that Media Molecule could explore.
There are endless possibilities here. Imagine having to navigate your messenger over platforms while also glancing over at enemies to keep them at bay, or leaning into the world to block the path of a waterfall threatens to wash you away.
Not to mention that the papery world of Tearaway itself would be something to marvel in VR. Titles such as Lucky’s Tale are already proving that third-person platforming can be done with the tech, giving us little worry that this series would translate easily enough. We’d be free to take in the intricately-crafted sights and sounds in 3D, inspecting our own creations in greater detail than ever before.
With Media Molecule’s next title, Dreams, bringing 3D creation to PlayStation 4 with the PlayStation Move motion controllers, it would be fascinating to translate this to Tearaway with VR, perhaps allowing players to even grab sides of paper and folder them how they see fit. It’s a step above the current title’s 2D creation, and VR would give players the proper sense of depth needed to work with the concept.
The Move controllers could also bring players closer to the world than ever before, asking players to shine a light to guide their messenger, or perhaps hold back paper that threatens to come toppling down.
It’s beginning to look like Dreams itself could be a VR title. If that’s the case, then perhaps there’s hope for the future of Tearaway with Project Morpheus. This is one of PlayStation’s most exciting IP right now, built on the very foundations of experimenting with new tech. What better way to introduce players to the world of VR than with Atoi and Iota?