The Unfinished Swan

Review: The Unfinished Swan

This generation,  the arguments for and against "games as art" have really come into the spotlight. No one could argue that Sony have been leading the way in this regard, with titles like Journey and flow pushed to the forefront of any debate. The Unfinished Swan is a title in the same vein as those, and provides one of the most unique, if brief, experiences on PSN.

The game tells the story of Monroe, a young boy orphaned after the death of his mother. Allowed to keep only one of her paintings, he has chosen the titular unfinished swan. One night, Monroe awakens to find the canvas blank. He goes in search of the swan through a door he has never before noticed, so beginning his quest.

Gameplay in the world of The Unfinished Swan is relatively simple. Again, drawing comparisons to Journey, you're pretty much left to your own devices here, with very few on screen prompts telling you what buttons do what or how to accomplish a given task. The game revels in the joys of self discovery. Monroe navigates the world much like any first person shooter, although in this world, Monroe's "weapon" is his paintbrush. Dropped into a completely white world, his only option is to throw paint at his surroundings. This brings his world to life as each blob of paint hits objects in the world, bringing clarity to his surroundings. 

While this would soon wear out its welcome if it was the game's only mechanic, Giant Sparrow cleverly tweak the gameplay from chapter to chapter. I won't spoil these here; as I stressed above, discovering these yourself is a treat. The game can be controlled either by a standard gamepad or the PS Move controller. I played through with the regular controller and found it to be a perfectly fine way to play the game; there's nothing here that I can see that would make a move controller a necessity.

Visually, The Unfinished Swan is breathtaking. The contrast between the white world and the black paint is stunning, and creates a look that is instantly recognisable. As the game progresses, and more visual elements are added (man, writing spoiler free reviews is difficult), the world begins to take on a life of its own, and one that is instantly recognisable. 

The game clocks in at around two hours, but through its storybook nature, hidden collectibles and numerous easter eggs, it definitely encourages multiple playthroughs. Even without these, the world of The Unfinished Swan is charming enough that, much like a good book or movie, begs to be seen again just for the sheer joy of the experience.

Any and all feedback is much appreciated, first written review for the site so I'm hopeful I can improve