I bought and downloaded Unfinished Swan back when it originally released after podcasting cohort Blake went on and on and on about damn great it was. He said if I liked games like Journey and Flower, I would definitely like Unfinished Swan. Well, I hadn’t played Journey at the time, but I really liked how unique Flower was, so hey, I’ll give it a whirl. And then it sat in my PSN downloads for months.
Right before Christmas, I finally played it. It started out really promising, but by about halfway through, I was long ready for the game to be over.
Unfinished Swan is about a young orphan whose mother never completed any of the paintings she started. When she died, he was only allowed to take one of her paintings to the orphanage (which instantly triggered all of these problems with probate code and family law and inheritance, but that’s besides the point), and he chose the painting of a swan she of course did not finish. In the middle of the night, the boy woke up to find that the swan had disappeared, and he went on a journey to go find where the swan ran off to. Along the way, he learns of his mother’s past, the swan’s past, and other stuff that was not entirely surprising by the end of the tale.
Obviously, with a game like Unfinished Swan, the story isn’t the forte. It’s all about the unique gameplay. The game essentially has four levels, each requiring a different method of playing. For starters, the first level is completely white. It’s literally blinding, it’s so white. The only way you can find your way–other than looking for the swan’s golden footprints–is to throw black paint on the white canvas. The black paint splashes on actual objects that are in the white room, that you couldn’t see since they’re all the same color. You don’t want to go too crazy with the black paint, though, or everything will turn solid black as it was solid white. So it’s all about tossing enough black paint around to see depth, shapes, and how the area really looks. In the next level, you no longer have the black paint; you now throw blobs of water in an effort to attract vines to grow up walls, across ravines, through pipes, etc. You then climb these vines.
It sounds really intriguing and different, right? Well, it is, at first. However, the second level went way, way too long. I was really bored and ready for it to be over before I finished the second level. I had stopped hunting for the hidden collectibles at this point as well, because I just wanted it to be over. And then when the third level arrived, pitching me in a somewhat scary scenario where I had to avoid the dark as long as possible or die from most likely a horrific spider monster…you all know what a pansy I am, so I hated this part with a passion. I didn’t even try to look for collectibles here, I just wanted to survive and be done.
At least the last two levels were extremely short, so I was able to finish the game in about three hours.
While I’m glad I got to experience Unfinished Swan, if I had to do it over again, I wouldn’t have paid the full $15. Not that I will do it over again; all those balloons will stay uncollected, thank you very much.