Beware of bundles, but welcome ‘Tearaway’

NEW YORK — If you’re a parent and your child asks you for a video-game bundle, it’s important to know what this means. Bundles are packages that combine a console — the device on which a particular category of game can be played — with a copy of a popular recent title for that device.

This is an image from the video game "Tearaway." The Catholic News Service classification is A-I -- general patronage. The Entertainment Software Rating Board rating is E — everyone. (CNS/Media Molecule)

This is an image from the video game “Tearaway.” The Catholic News Service classification is A-I — general patronage. The Entertainment Software Rating Board rating is E — everyone. (CNS/Media Molecule)

The latest such offering from Sony, for example, pairs a PlayStation Vita console with “Borderlands 2,” a violent shoot-’em-up.

A bundle can sometimes seem like a good deal, but it can also be a means of smuggling a morally objectionable game into your home. A better approach is to purchase a console as a stand-alone item. That way, you can more effectively monitor the games kids may want to buy to play on it.

One good choice toward which to steer youngsters would be “Tearaway,” (Media Molecule) a delightful adventure for that same Vita system.

In every respect, “Tearaway” is the opposite of the brutal and vulgar video games — including “Borderlands 2” — that have caused so much parental concern in recent years. Whereas the goal of many titles is to destroy and dismantle everything in sight, in “Tearaway,” the object is to build and create. It makes for a wonderfully imaginative experience and one that’s suitable for all ages.

The player controls a small avatar named Iota or Atoi, depending on its gender. Like everything else in “Tearaway” — the trees, the ground, the sky — Iota is made out of paper. The entire visual component of the game is a collection of paper sheets, ribbons, boxes and streamers.

In fact, Iota himself is a folded parchment with something written on the inside; he is, literally, a message. His goal is to overcome a series of obstacles in order to deliver himself to the gamer.

The Vita video camera superimposes the player’s face on the Tearaway world, so that he or she appears as a giant “face in the sun,” the object Iota is scampering to reach.

Gamers can use the back touch pad on the Vita to “poke through” to Iota’s world, helping him stamp out little paper enemies and open up various environments of arts-and-crafts bliss. The challenges, like opening a present or shooting a basketball, are simple, fun and often inventive.

There are clear religious overtones to “Tearaway.” As the “face in the sun,” the player wields power over a small, vulnerable creature, one who initially displays fear but eventually learns to trust. Part of Iota’s nature is the desire to co-create with the gamer, especially to make beautiful things and tell stories as a way to gain self-awareness.

In place of violent or sexual content, “Tearaway” offers players a tender protagonist and a satisfying conclusion.

The Catholic News Service classification is A-I — general patronage. The Entertainment Software Rating Board rating is E — everyone.