The Unfinished Swan Review
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The Unfinished Swan is a fairy tale told beautifully through the cooperative effort of the game's graphics, sound, and intuitive gameplay. Polished beyond belief, its hard to believe that this Picasso is going for a PSN price.
- Beautiful presentation that actually serves as a gameplay element
- Game mechanics constantly evolve until the game ends
- A moving story, with interesting characters set in a unique world
- The short life-span
- While entertaining, none of the puzzles required much thinking
(continued from previous page) ...area in black however; the world will be black in the same way that it was overwhelmingly white. Players should paint strategically, as it is the contrast of these colors that allows you to effectively perceive passages.
Gameplay grows more complex as the chapters, and environments change. The worlds become more detailed, and don't require you to paint to reveal your location as often. Instead, paint is used to solve intricate puzzles characterized by different effects your brush gains. Though these are often multi-step, interesting puzzles, we were never stumped, and sometimes wished that they were just a bit more challenging. Platforming and puzzle-solving become the focus, now using the abilities of the brush to create planes, reveal your environment, grow weeds, illuminate darkness and activate physics based objects. The game feels almost like a paint-based Portal at times, which is by no means a bad thing. Just when you get tired of one use of the brush, the game will combine it with another, or completely change form to a fun, new objective.
The controls that allow you to perform all these actions are incredibly simple. The left analog stick moves Monroe, while the right analog serves to control the camera and aim the paintbrush. Holding the left analog stick forward for an extended period of time will give Monroe a minor speed boost. X is jump, and any of the shoulder buttons tosses a paintball. While simple, these controls will allow you to accomplish a variety of tasks and serves the player well during platforming. We don't recommend use of the PlayStation Move motion controller unless you use the DualShock 3 or the navigation controller as well, as using the trigger to walk and the circle button to walk backwards serves to disorient the player and make platforming needlessly difficult. However with the movement taken care of with one of the other controllers, physically aiming the motion controller for paintball throwing is enjoyable.
The dynamic soundtrack is one of my personal favorite parts of Swan. The beautiful score sets the mood perfectly for Monroe's story. Depending on the player's position in the area, current action, and the events taking place nearby, the music will swell, raise or lower in volume, or have certain instruments become emphasized to perfectly accentuate every moment of the experience. The narrator of the story wouldn't sound out of place narrating a children's movie, and that's perfect for the tone of Swan. There isn't much dialogue in the game, but every voice actor performs admirably with just the right amount of gusto for a fantasy story.
The game is quite short at just under two and half hours, but it is filled with collectibles, unlockables, and secrets. That playtime isn't including the enjoyable exploration that players could sink time into. While the game has no modes other than the main story, the "unlockables" section in the main menu is worth mention. By freeing hidden balloons in the story mode of the game, players can unlock "toys" to enhance their experience. These range from the ability to freeze paintballs in mid-air, to receiving a paint sniper rifle that shoot accurate paintballs straight to where you aim them. Besides being motivation for several playthroughs and collecting all the hidden balloons, these toys aid in user-created art in game, and allow more experimentation with the game's mechanics. Speaking of hidden content, we're pretty sure we saw a couple of easter eggs. Check out one of the many telescopes in the game to catch a shout out to thatgamecompany's Journey.
The Unfinished Swan is an ironic title for a game that feels so solidly put together. Through the combination of its charming storytelling, colorful, high-contrast graphics, dynamic score, intuitive control scheme, and interesting characters, Giant Sparrow provides a beautiful, unique experience that never ceases to impress and is always entertaining. While a bit on the short side, and perhaps a bit too simplistic in its puzzle design, Swan is a game that will keep you interested and engaged the whole way through. You'll smile and maybe even cry. And you'll want to play again.
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