The Unfinished Swan [Review]

  • Platform: Playstation 3 (PSN)
  • Published by: Sony Computer Entertainment
  • Developed by: Giant Sparrow
  • Genre: Adventure
  • ESRB Rating: E for Everyone
  • Number of Players: Single Player
  • Release Date:  October 23rd, 2012

I’ve never had a talent for painting. Nor do I have any talent for drawing… let’s just say that my artistic abilities are limited when it comes to expressing them through these two mediums. The Unfinished Swan gave me confidence that although I cannot create fantastic art in the real world, I can create (or at least add my own style too) beautiful looking art in this games world. The Unfinished Swan is a rare game, and anyone with a PlayStation 3 should own it.

Monroe’s mother never finished anything. She also loved to paint and out of all of her paintings, Monroe’s favorite was the unfinished swan. One night, he finds that the swan has disappeared from the picture. Curiosity leading him, and armed with only his mothers silver paintbrush, he follows the swan into a door that was not previously there. This door reveals an enormous kingdom that is completely white and it’s up to Monroe to paint a path to the swan.

The player is in control of Monroe, who wields his mothers silver paintbrush. The controls are simple, move around and throw paint blobs. Throwing black paint blobs reveal the path, but how much is painted is up to the player. It’s quite an amazing sight arriving at the end of a path and looking back on all of the painting that unfolded in simple exploration. There are a couple of different paint blobs, each with their own attribute. Scattered in each level are golden letters. Once hit with a paint blob, these letters reveal a picture and a small narrated portion of the story. Balloons are hidden in each level as well. Collecting these balloons act as a currency to buy Toys from the main menu. Toys are anything from a power to erase all the painting done in the level to unlocking concept art. New mechanics are introduced throughout the game and keep the pace smooth and refreshing. There is very little hand-holding in the game as well. When presented with a puzzle, although the puzzles aren’t complex enough to stump most people, it’s up to the player to determine the solution; not even the controls are explained.

The Unfinished Swan’s art style is very striking. The solid, white, geometric shapes contrast wonderfully when hit with a splatter of black paint. At times, the white can become a little overwhelming on the eyes. This is especially true when the black blobs are absent from Monroe’s paint brush. Considering the length of the game, the portions where the white is overwhelming seem just long enough to detract from the experience. Later in the game, many more colors begin to emerge. Vibrant greens show off lively vines while brilliant purples light up portions of a forest. Despite the intensity of the whiteness at times, this entire game looks beautiful and it’s great to see features in a game that not only add to the overall feel, but are essential to playing it as well.

The sound quality of The Unfinished Swan is very well done. Throughout the game the story is read like a children’s book which is narrated wonderfully by a woman’s voice. Pressing right on the D-pad signals Monroe to cry out, “Hello,” or “Woohoo!” A satisfying splat can be heard when each paint blob contacts a surface. The soundtrack is a nice ambient, uplifting beat when exploring the brighter sections of the game but can become tense and threatening when the mood shifts to a darker state. Overall, the sound in this game adds a great deal of character and really brings it to life.

Artistic ability is something that not everyone has. Giant Sparrow; however, seem to have both amazing artistic ability and understand how to weave that ability into a video game. The Unfinished Swan has a nice story that’s touching at all the right moments, and the gameplay is smooth and diverse enough to keep the player interested until the end. The art style not only looks fantastic but by simply playing the game makes it look even better. Along with games like Journey and The Walking Dead, The Unfinished Swan is a phenomenal experience and is one of the few downloadable games that has brought a genuine smile to my face.

FINAL SCORE: 8.5/10

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