f5-nz logo
Story image

Game Review: The Unfinished Swan

26 Oct 2012

With the plethora of first-person and third-person shooting games available on the market today, some people might think original gaming ideas are dying.

Thankfully though, there are a number of unique games that have been released digitally on the PSN and XBLA.

Thatgamecompany’s Journey proved to be popular when it was released on the PSN earlier this year but can The Unfinished Swan replicate the same type of success that Journey received?

The Unfinished Swan starts off telling you a story like in a children’s picture book. You play the role of an orphan by the name of Munroe who seeks a swan that has escaped its painting. It’s your role as Munroe to search for the swan as it enters a world that is devoid of any colour.

The game starts off in a very unique way as the screen is all white at the beginning. I wasn’t sure if the game froze on me or what but the bright white screen was frightening to me at first.

That is until I decided to press the R1 button and Munroe started to blotch a bunch of black paint everywhere. The black paint started to paint a picture (no pun intended) of the world and I started to get an idea of what to do after that.

The more paint I sprayed onto the screen, the easier it was to navigate and the more this unique world started to reveal itself.

At first, I thought the game was very odd and quite boring as I wasn’t sure what the point of the game was about. I became disorientated at first because if I painted too much black paint, it was hard to see where I needed to go to next.

But after I got used to the game’s unique gameplay mechanics, I started to appreciate the game design and artwork that has been put into this unorthodox title.

The first level was arguably the most disorientating because you had to paint the world first to see where you needed to go. It wasn’t until I reached the second level that I realized there was a whole Kingdom for you to explore.

The King’s castle was painted all grey and Munroe was now armed with a blue paint/water pistol instead. To me, the game opened up from then on and I became fully immersed into this weird yet wonderful fantasy world that developer Giant Sparrow has created.

I couldn’t help but notice that there are some similarities between The Unfinished Swan and Portal in some ways. Both are first-person video games that both have several puzzle-solving elements.

For example, there was a moment I thought I was stuck because the door I came through was shut and there was no way I could move forward or backward.

I decided to spray water onto a vine and then it started to grow all over the walls. Upon approaching the vines, I was able to climb out of the hole I was stuck in.

It’s discoveries like this that make The Unfinished Swan such a charming game to play. Not only does the animation look artistically beautiful, the game design and mechanics is unique as well. I feel more modern games “hand-hold” you through each levels too often as there’s always a waypoint telling you where to go all of the time.

The Unfinished Swan allows you to explore each level by yourself and forces the player to solve puzzles on their own rather than blatantly giving you clues all of the time…

For those who own a PlayStation Move controller, playing The Unfinished Swan is a fun experience. I felt like an artist splotching paint all over the place with a brush while playing on the Move.

The only downside to playing on the Move is that it gets a bit tiring to use after a while because you constantly have to keep you hand up. I ended up playing back on the controller instead after the first hour.

My only problem with the game is its replay value. Once you play through the game’s short 4 hour story, there’s not much incentive for you to play the game again unless you want to search for all of the balloons that are littered throughout the game.

This wouldn’t be too much of a problem but the game costs $NZD24.95 on the PSN. A bit expensive for a game that only offers a few hours of gameplay and not other extra game modes.

As aforementioned, there are balloons that you have to search for in each of the levels in this game. The more balloons you find, the greater your rewards will be.

One of the end rewards for finding all of the balloons is that you can use a hose. This hose is great because you can spray paint/water more quickly. It definitely made playing the game a lot easier when using the hose. There is also artwork and other abilities you can unlock too if you are able to find enough balloons.

Much like other artistic PSN games such as Flower and Journey, The Unfinished Swan is a unique gaming experience like no other. It has a charming story and the art-style graphics are impressively animated.

The only thing that I did not like about the game was that it was too short considering how much the game is on the PSN. Still, it’s a refreshing experience and a nice change of pace from playing all of the fighting/shooting games that frequent the video game market today…