Game Review: The Unfinished Swan

Fucking swan, get back here!

Finish him!

Finish him!

The Unfinished Swan is a game developed for the Playstation 3 (though has now been released on PS4 and Vita) by the company Giant Sparrow.  It is a first-person puzzle game revolving around throwing balls of paint or water around in order to traverse areas and affect the world around you.

The story of the game is that you play a young boy who chases after one of his mother’s incomplete paintings, that of a swan.  You pursue it into a completely white space and find you can throw paint using the trigger buttons.  The paint splatters and reveals your surroundings.  It’s a pretty clever mechanic, and one that works quite well.  You throw paint, it hits things, you see what’s in front of you.

Splat.

Splat.

I went into this game not knowing anything about it, having downloaded it because it was free for Playstation Plus members, so I was a little bit worried that the entire game was going to be like this.  While it is clever and looks interesting, it doesn’t make for long-lasting fun.  It didn’t take long for me to simply want to be able to see where I was going as opposed to basically having to feel my way forward every few steps.  Fortunately, very quickly I made my way through the first area and found that the rest of the game was rendered so that I could see my surroundings.  The paint was also switched out for water, which allowed me to interact with vines, causing them to grow, which I could then climb on to access new areas.

Vines

Surprisingly tidy for a city being overgrown.

The game isn’t terribly exciting, though it’s certainly not trying to be.  It is laid out as though it is a children’s book, and you can find shiny gold letters on walls, throw water at them, and have them reveal pages from that book.  Then a very pleasantly voiced woman reads them aloud to you, telling the story of a king with a magic paintbrush who painted his kingdom.  It’s a very calm game, as you’re steadily chasing after this swan that is missing its neck, platforming and causing the world around you to change as you splash water everywhere.

It does shift tone at a certain point towards the end of the game, becoming very dark (literally) and you encounter points where creatures can actually hurt you, though it’s pretty simple to avoid that happening.  It’s not a terribly challenging game, as most puzzles are pretty easy to figure out.  There are balloons hidden throughout the game that you can hunt down, providing an extra challenge, but I can’t see myself being motivated to do that, really.

He went that-a-way!

He went that-a-way!

All in all, I enjoyed playing through this game.  It’s short, lasting only a few hours, but at the very least it kept my interest the entire time.  I’d compare this game more to a walk in the park than anything else.  It’s not much of a challenge, it’s very pleasant, and it looks great.  I wouldn’t pay more than like ten dollars for this game, but if you can get it for around that price, you should have a good time with it.  Also, watch out for a certain Python in the game, you’ll be glad you did!

The Unfinished Swan: It would be kind to your hangover.

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