The Unfinished Swan, Finished

A while back, I purchased The Unfinished Swan during a PSN sale. I had intended to play it with my girlfriend, but it was only recently that we started it. The first person view gave her motion sickness, so I got to speed through the game uninhibited. It was a perfect experience.

It is an artsy game at its core. Exclusive to Sony platforms and developed by Giant Sparrow as their first outing (their follow-up is already announced and now I am excited for it), I had the pleasure of playing it on my Playstation 4.

As a first person puzzler, it was a very short game, though thankfully it never outstayed its welcome, even if I was left wanting more. Gameplay revolves around throwing blobs at the world to help you navigate. Often this manifests as black paint you throw on a world of pure white, revealing the objects that are hidden beneath the blankness of it all. Later on, you throw water to make plants grow.

It was not a challenging experience. The entire interface and methods of storytelling make it out to be a children’s book, and the gameplay is accessible and simple to match. It is not without its triumphs, however, as the beauty of the sparse artwork revealed by your character’s machinations is a reward that easily compensates for the lack of ‘triumphant feels’.

In its artisanal nature, The Unfinished Swan manages to capture the exact same feeling I get after sampling a gourmet hors d’oeurvre or a fancy chocolate: it leaves me wanting so much more. The game’s only means of lengthen the experience are balloons, scattered throughout each chapter, begging to be found.

It isn’t enough for a gamer like myself. I am not a completionist, and replaying the game would be over even quicker now that I know what to do and where to go. For the most part, a lot of the setting’s additional value resides in those first moments of discovery, as you peel back the obfuscations to see the hidden treasures that reside in a kingdom created by a King’s magic paintbrush.

Replaying the game would not add much to what I have taken away from the experience. But playing it once ought be required of us all. Give it a go if you haven’t already!

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3 thoughts on “The Unfinished Swan, Finished”

  1. I’d like to give this game a try — it sounds like a must if only for the intriguing visuals. Curious though, is there much of a story? Do you think it’d be appropriate for a younger player, like an artsy preteen? Does the game’s abstractness detract from the experience in any way? (Apologies if you answered these in your longer post on the game, but, y’know, spoilers. :) )

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    1. The story is almost entirely subtext, but the little bit of narrative drive the game does have is told in an almost fairy tale like way with a really comforting narration. I think it would be fine.

      The only detraction for me was how weird the opening of the game was, but it gets a bit more normal after that.

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