Teared review

This side-scrolling, pointy projectile lobbing, action platformer makes its inspirations known early. Before jumping into the fur-lined boots of a stumpy Viking-esque warrior, we’re presented with a short introduction set in an arcade. The camera slowly pans around, seemingly drawn to a single cabinet. As it approaches, a cat can be observed, fixated on the glow from the CRT screen before the camera zooms directly into the machine itself.

Cut from the same cloth as arcade greats such as Rygar and Ghouls ‘n Ghosts, Teared involves throwing spears, knifes and daggers at various mythical creatures while dabbling with light platforming, defeating bosses in walled-in arenas, and indulging in bonus round mini-games.

Our hairless hero can jump, duck, and roll – with the roll also, confusingly, resulting in a small hop being performed. Over time, you’ll learn the importance of rolling, which is where most of Teared’s nuance lies. Despite the presence of flying enemies, projectiles can only be thrown left and right, which makes for quite an unbalanced set-up. I’m not best convinced it suitable for the feats the game calls for, especially when faced with a multitude of enemies.

Teared review

From the main menu there’s a choice of three difficulties, along with the choice of 9 continues or…90. While close to a hundred continues may sound extreme, or even possibly comical, Teared prides itself of being challenging – think along the lines of Super Ghouls ‘n Ghosts, where enemies continuously approach, and platforming sections require you to land squarely. On your first attempt, you’ll likely make a good dent in that stockpile, especially considering that colliding with any enemy – some of which appear suddenly – results in death.

The level design is generally fine, with a good dose of variety. One level has an elevator stage that scrolls vertically, while another has a downward descent. A few mini-bosses also feature, just to keep you unaware.  All the good work here though is undermined by a couple of fatal flaws. As a result of featuring 3D character models on a 2D plain, collision detection is very unreliable. That’s in the sense that it’s never clear what it’s possible to get away with. Sometimes you’ll roll out of harm’s way and be left unscathed, other times it’ll be instant death.

Boss battles are also, from my experiences at least, broken. At one point, an early boss – a large dragon – glitched out of the arena and relocated to a rock in the background. With no way to defeat them, and no checkpoint restarts, I had to return to the main menu. In another battle, I was able to roll through the level’s exit, skipping the fight entirely. The Skeleton King battle, meanwhile, took me around thirty retires – they spawn on top of our hero before teleporting at will with no visible patterns to learn. If they trap you against the arena’s walls – which will, infuriatingly, also kill you – you’re a goner. I felt that luck played key part in this particular battle.

Teared review

Then later, during the inevitable boss-rush style tower climb (which has no checkpoints – again, infuriatingly) the foreground elements can obscure the view – which really made me question how much playtesting Teared had received. It’s also worth mentioning the graphics. Teared is powered by Unreal Engine, and as such sports rich textures, realistic shadows and some alluring environmental effects such as smoke and fire. Water ripples when walked on, and the coastal path has waves that crash along the shore. But all of this is, once again, undermined by peculiar design choices – this time from an artistic angle. The contrast is noticeably low, resulting in a very dark screen. I even had to adjust the brightness on my TV. There’s also a heavy use of bloom lighting, even appearing on objects that aren’t lit. Graphics options would have been appreciated.

If you’re able to look past Teared’s flaws, you’re still left with something that isn’t all that much fun, lacking in soul and personality. It feels less like an arcade game, and more like a low budget, sub D3 Publisher quality, PS2 release circa 2006 – and I very much doubt that was what the developer’s strived for. If it’s ever patched I’d be willing to give it another go, but in its current state, you’re bound to run into something that’ll spoil the limited enjoyment it provides.

Jandusoft’s Teared is out now on PC, PS4, and Switch. An Xbox version is coming soon. Developed by Juan-Mod.