Saturday, June 29, 2013

Finishing the Unfinished Swan

So after I fell in love with Journey, a few friends pointed me towards the Unfinished Swan. It's a game of exploration developed by Giant Sparrow games, and is only available on PS3. The $15 price point seems a little steep, but it was a delightful experience that I don't regret purchasing. This review will be a little light, as it's a short game and I don't want to ruin the aspect of discovery for those who have yet to give it a try.

You play as Monroe, whose mother was a painter, though she wasn't very good at finishing things. When she died, the orphanage allowed Monroe to keep one of her hundreds of unfinished paintings. He chose her favorite - the unfinished swan. One night he wakes up to find that the swan is gone! He grabs his mother's silver paintbrush and enters a door that hadn't been there before.

The game starts you in a completely white area and leaves you to figure out how to play. The main mechanic is being able to throw balls of paint around, which splatter on the walls and reveal the environment around you. I felt a delightful sense of childlike wonder as I explored this first area, a silly grin on my face. The music sneaks in, revealing itself as the world around you does. The score is perfectly whimsical and the intermittent narration adds to the storybook feel of the game.

Even though the initial area felt like it could be the entirety of the game, the mechanic evolves a few times, keeping gameplay fresh. I was only at a loss for what to do a couple times and never felt that anything was beyond my abilities. It seems like a game that would be great for playing with kids, though the nighttime levels got a little scary for me.

All in all, it was a delightful experience that I've enjoyed sharing with others. After finishing the game, you can use the balloons you've collected to purchase toys and even an initial test level. I may go back to some levels and try to get more of the balloons, especially now that I've gotten the balloon radar.

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