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Tearaway Unfolded gets creative with the DualShock 4

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Between Sony’s various glimpses of the future at E3 last week, it was easy to overlook the handful of first party games on the way to PlayStation 4 this year. One of those, Tearaway Unfolded, appeared in Sony’s booth on the show floor. It’s a reimagining of one of Vita’s best games — a paper-themed platformer — built to work on the PS4, and early impressions suggest it’ll be worth playing even for those who played the Vita game.

In the demo version of Unfolded on display at E3, the player had to climb Giblet Hill, a snowy mountain with enemy scraps running around. The level includes Tearaway mainstays like taking real life photos to use as in-game textures and drawing a snowflake with your finger to make it appear in the game (this time via the DualShock 4 touchpad, which seems about as precise as the Vita touch screen for this sort of thing). Progressing through the level requires a lot of blowing wind one way or another to raise platforms and open paths — here done by swiping on the PS4 touchpad instead of literally blowing on the Vita.

Tearaway Unfolded

The demo also shows two interactions you couldn’t do on Vita, and both of them play on the idea of the player existing outside the game’s world.

First, you can pick up a rock in the game, then hold up your controller in the real world and throw the rock to yourself through the screen — essentially playing a game of catch. Then you can throw the rock back into the screen anywhere you want. So if you need to smash an ice cage that you can’t reach in the game, you can toss a rock back and forth to attack it from a new angle.

Second, at the end of the E3 demo, you earn an ability called Guiding Light, which lets you point a flashlight of sorts into the screen by aiming the PS4 controller’s light bar. The demo just teases this, saying you can hypnotize scraps and melt ice with it, but the game ends before you get much of a chance to play with it.

While the demo was short enough that it’s hard to make any concrete judgments, Unfolded seems to be on the right track. The visuals don’t look as crisp and detailed on a big screen as they do on Vita, but the mechanics in the demo retain the game’s playful approach and go a long way to making it feel like an entirely new game. Tearaway’s original gimmick may have been finding creative ways to use the Vita’s hardware, but it’s now become finding creative ways to use the hardware of whatever platform it ends up on.

Tearaway Unfolded

And in that spirit, at E3 Sony also announced a companion app to let a second player mess around with the game. We didn’t get to test this out, but according to Sony a second player can download the app on their phone/tablet, then draw, cut out and capture images to feed into the single-player game. From the sound of it, it seems like it will fit somewhere between a spectator mode and a second player co-op mode.

Sony is currently planning to release Tearaway Unfolded on Sept. 8. Players wanting a soundtrack, extra costumes, decorations, papercraft plans and other bonuses can pre-order a "Crafted Edition" of the game now.