Carrying on with my moniker of playing old games I’ve always wanted to, I found the Unfinished Swan had been released on Playstation Vita and PS4. At £5, I couldn’t miss the offer of finally giving the game a go in stunning 1080p 60fps, considering I’ve always heard it’s an artistic game. Having completed the game and collecting majority of the collectibles, I feel I should give some opinions on the quality of the game and how I felt my time with it went.
The story of The Unfinished Swan was unique and lovely, comprising of a little boy who’s mother has recently passed away, and is only able to take one of her many unfinished paintings with him. The painting he chooses is the Unfinished Swan, a painting thats beautiful, but with a missing neck. It’s through these paintings that the story of The Unfinished Swan will unravel, with the whole game feeling like you’re playing through a children’s fairy tale book. It’s charming, and certainly keeps you hooked for the 2-3 hour long campaign it has, and offers enough variety as to make sure you’re never bored by it’s splendid presentation.
Each level in the game has it’s own mechanic all tied around the capacity to shoot little balls of paint or water wherever you go. The first level for instance compromises entirely around the mechanic of seeing where you’re going by painting the pure white world black. The second stage takes this one step further by giving you blue water balls, by which you can then interact with vines and grow them wherever you’d like to help you with your progress. The third stage has balls which can create “blueprints”, giving you the ability to make cubes of varying sizes depending on where you fire the balls. For a game whose advertising seemed to be based around the painting mechanic, the developers at Santa Monica managed to pull of some unique mechanics.
The Unfinished Swan is stylish in every sense of the word, with detailed and lovely environments brimming with life, it’s no wonder I found so much good coverage for the game around it’s original release. Frogs and animals you encounter look strikingly abstract, but alive, ensuring you’re constantly on your feet as to when you’ll next encounter another living thing. Throughout all of the story you’ll be chasing the swan from your mothers painting, with it’s gawks seemingly coming from nowhere at times, it leads you through the marvellous world the game has to offer.
Most of the game is fairly linear, with most levels just compromising of a series of corridors getting you from point A to point B. Where The Unfinished Swan deviates from this linearity though is in its ability to make each players experience different and unique purely from the fact the mechanics like the paints aren’t constrained so to speak. Granted, the mechanics are constrained within the confines of the stage as a whole, but how players paint the level or obstacles is different with each play-through. This in turn could show some similarities to real painting, with each brush stroke being different from person to person, with the end result always looking different as a result of that work.
Once you’ve finished the main story, there are always reasons to revisit, with collectible balloons hidden throughout the world you’re bound to come back a few more times. Collecting these balloons also counts as currency to use in buying abilities used throughout the story/chapters. Most abilities aren’t available until you’ve completed the game once, but given that they’re fairly game breaking in nature (e.g. you’re able to summon the cube making balls anytime in the game, by-passing massive obstacles on your way) you can understand why. Once completed I bought the ability to travel to any chapter, along with a hose for the water levels and the balloon hunter, which tells you when you’re close to a hidden ballon, making it easier to find the last few.
So, should you play The Unfinished Swan? I believe so. Given its game length (easily completable within a few hours) and unique story and style, I’d be hard pressed to tell you any reasons why you shouldn’t buy or even play the game. It’s shortness may deter some players who aren’t willing to fork out upwards of £10 for it’s RRP, but if it ever goes on sale again I’d recommend it. I thoroughly enjoyed myself, and see what all the fuss is about.