-by Dylan DiBona
I have a soft spot for “artsy” indie games. Today they’re coming out every single day so I don’t pay them much mind. The ones that do get a lot of praise from critics and fans end up on my radar. I may be very late to the party, but The Unfinished Swan by Giant Sparrow is definitely a type of game you’ve never played before.
The story of The Unfinished Swan is a very basic yet cute setup for the gameplay mechanics. You play as Monroe, a young boy whose mother has passed away. Monroe’s mother was very good at starting things but never finished them. When she passed, she left Monroe with hundreds of unfinished paintings. At the orphanage he could only keep one; so he kept his mothers favorite, an unfinished swan. One magical night Monroe hops into the painting and our journey starts.
The start of The Unfinished Swan can be confusing, as you’re only looking at at blank white screen. If you tamper with the controller, you’ll realize that you can actually shoot balls of ink. Splatting the white around you with ink will reveal hidden scenery. The Unfinished Swan is all about getting through said scenery while also listening to the narrative unfold.
I remember playing the first level of this game at a local GameStop and being amazed by the concept, I had never played a game quite like it. Unfortunately after finally playing the full game, The Unfinished Swan felt like a one trick pony.
The core splatting mechanics are fine, but after the first forty-five minutes, they grew repetitive and kind of boring. The triggers and bumpers on a Dualshock 4 don’t feel like the type of buttons I want to be pressing a hundred times a minute, and you will be with this game.
Aside from getting to the end, the game offers not-so-hidden balloons you can throw ink balls at. Doing this will allow you to purchase”toys” which can add some fun replay value.
Getting to the end isn’t the most rewarding feeling; as you can tell the story is quite child picture book-esque. Adults might hear themselves going “Oh, cool”, but I was never amazed with the overall product. My favorite part was Act 3 of 4, which initially scared me (it takes place in a forest at night), but ended up making the ink mechanics quite puzzle-centric and thoughtful.
The biggest disappointment with The Unfinished Swan is it’s playtime. The game will only last you about two hours, and that’s only because of one stupid factor: Monroe’s speed, or lack of. Monroe might be the slowest video game character I’ve come to control and there’s no convincing me that he was made that way other than to pad out a truly hour long game. If you’ve ever been interested in this game, get it now as it’s on sale for three dollars, otherwise it’s absolutely not worth the normal fifteen dollar price.
The Unfinished Swan is a cute Sunday afternoon game with barely a handful of reasons to come back to it. It’s not the most intricate game made, and it’s not particularly deep- but it can be fun.
The Unfinished Swan is an okay game.
Have you ever played The Unfinished Swan? Did you like it more or less than me? What are some similar games you like? Let me know down below and I’ll try to reply! As always, thanks for reading!