Note from the author: If you have sensitive eyes I’d advise you play this game in a well lit room.
The Unfinished Swan is a first person painting game beginning in an almost blindingly white environment with no shadows or definition, a blank canvas of purity that you will relish soiling with your infinite supply of blank paint. The more you throw it around the more of the environment will be revealed to you, and slowly a world forms around you.
It’s a curious way to explore a new game, it inspires the creative child inside of you, which is appropriate since you’re playing from the perspective of a child called Monroe. Monroe is lost in a surreal world of incomplete artistic masterpieces with an unfinished swan leading you on a wild goose chase. The premise is incredibly unique and, when coupled with the bold colour scheme, really helps set it apart as a genuinely original game.
As you move through this dream-like landscape of lakes, castles and woods, you’ll run into a series of basic puzzles. Those that are easily stumped by puzzles need not worry as they’re puzzles in the simplest form, as long as you look at them logically you’ll work them out. Later puzzles do become much more creative, tasking you with using water to spread the growth of weeds, which in turn can be used to scale walls and towers to progress, or turning levers to gain access to new areas.
And as far as the gameplay goes, that’s about it. Put crudely, you just walk round throwing paint at things. It’s a simple concept, but it yields rewarding results. You’re propelled through the game by curiosity and discovery, with the narrative being told in the form of a children’s book, the pages of which you’ll find throughout the environment. These wonderfully drawn illustrations tell the story of a preposterously self-absorbed king, his magical paintbrush and his desire to create the perfect kingdom, one that would make him a legend throughout time…. but things don’t go according to plan.
I’d go into more detail about the story but it would sour the experience and this is a game that needs to be experienced. It’s artistic and unique with a masterfully composed soundtrack that evolves constantly, mimicking the evolution of each chapter in the story, culminating with a satisfying climax.
Giant Sparrow was a team created essentially just for this game and, considering that this is their first release, they’ve done an exceptional job creating a title that expands the definition of what a video game is. If you’re lucky enough to own a Playstation Move controller I’d recommend playing with that as, while it won’t necessarily enhance the fun factor, or immerse you into the game more, it makes the painting part a little more interesting.
The Unfinished Swan is an affordable, downloadable title you’ll be very happy with whether you’re a hardcore gamer or not.
Graphics: 5/5 - Although very simple and monochromatic, there’s a lot of realism to The Unfinished Swans stylised look. It’s a deliciously artistic 3 course meal for your eyes.
Sound: 4/5 - A masterfully composed soundtrack keeps you hanging on all the way though this relatively short games story. It’ll make you feel young again.
Gameplay: 4/5 - Very simple, no tutorials, just pick up and play and let you curiosity guide you.
Longevity: 3/5 - A short game but you won’t feel shortchanged thanks to an abundance of extras to track down for the dedicated swan hunters out there.
Overall: 4.5 out of 5
For fans of games like Datura, Limbo, Journey and Okami this is a must buy. It’s fun for kids and adults alike with some really creative gameplay to boot. For the price point you get a fantastic experience you’ll love to go through again and again.
- Adam Radcliffe