"The subtle storytelling in 'The Unfinished Swan' is as artistically sophisticated as it is heartwarming. It's a welcomed adventure on a blank canvas that slowly reveals the great lengths that one's creativity can carry us." - Warp Pipe
Developer Giant Sparrow's 'Unfinished Swan' impressed many during its early beginnings in 2008. Now with Sony, their charming adventure is "creating a sense of wonder" on the PlayStation Network as a digital download.
A young boy named Monroe is left an orphan after his mother passes away, leaving behind her only child and 300 works of art left unfinished. One particular piece is inherited by her son, the image of a swan. It would later go missing, only to lead Monroe into a journey of self discovery and one king's untold tale (voiced by Monty Python's Terry Gilliam).
The game largely involves lobbing balls of ink onto an otherwise white environment in order to expose its hidden surroundings. Yet after the initial 15 minutes of gameplay, more colors and shapes come to life. While many First Person Shooters tend to focus on what is in front of the player, I was compelled to fill the voids around me rather than press onward. The reward in filling in the blanks would reveal walls, furniture and even hidden wildlife. Playing 'The Unfinished Swan' was like walking through the skeletal blueprint of a dream all the while being wide-awake to take in each passing moment.
And walk I did, as the game features no sprinting ability. There are times when I wanted to make a mad dash in an attempt to leap across a platform or evade some surprisingly scary spiders in the dark woods but trust me, the game's steady pacing works in its favor. Players cannot die in the game but falling into water or getting slashed by those creepy, red-eyed spiders will bring you back to checkpoints obtained during auto saves. Even though the game is rather easy, some riddled moments in the game will leave you puzzled for a while, leading to a few accidental dips into surrounding ponds.
At just under three hours, the downloadable does not have much replay value other than unlockable items, abilities and concept art obtained after discovering the game's hidden balloons. The game's one-of-a-kind experience is an open door that you will want to pass through again just because of how beautiful everything looks inside. Blacks and whites never looked better on a LCD television than they do in 'The Unfinished Swan' and the flooding green from climbable vines scattering some maps make for an eye-popping walk-through worth revisiting.
The subtle storytelling in 'The Unfinished Swan' is as artistically sophisticated as it is heartwarming. It's a welcome adventure on a blank canvas that slowly reveals the great lengths that one's creativity can carry us. Simple shapes and limited color in 'The Unfinished Swan' create a dream world in such a way that you will forget you are playing a video game. I must admit, the game's conclusion made me watery eyed, not just because of its humbling story but because it let me wanting more from this artistic masterpiece. Pick up 'The Unfinished Swan' today and discover its magic for yourself.