The Unfinished Swan Review (PS4)

This is one of the games that I’ve been wanting to play for a while now. I’ve heard a lot about it and it seemed interesting enough since I like these kind of small, art based games. Every time it went on sale, I just missed it for some reason. It was finally free this month with PS+, and not only was it free for the PS4 but it was also free for the PS Vita and PS3. Figuring I would play on the PS4 first, here’s what I thought.

Even though this game is small, the story that it’s telling is not. You’ll play as Monroe who recently lost his mother and was left as an orphan. As an orphan he couldn’t bring along the plethora of unfinished paintings that his mother created while she was alive and was only able to bring one with him. Picking the painting of the unfinished swan, Monroe is shocked one night when he sees that the swan in the painting is gone. Jumping into the painting to find the swan, his story begins as he travels through this magical land of nothing but white space which is ruled by a sleeping king who has his own story to tell.

When I first started playing this screen, I just sat there for about two minutes and stared at this white screen with a small circle in the middle. Was this the game? Did my game not load right? Did the game freeze? I had no idea, but I was pissed. I picked up my controller and mistakenly hit the R2 button only to launch a blob of black paint at something. Already a little annoyed that I wasn’t prompted that the game had begun, I started throwing blobs of black paint everywhere to try and see what the hell was going on. I quickly became disorientated and didn’t know where I was or where the hell I was supposed to go. It was by pure luck that I found a brightly colored swan feet stampede on the floor which gave me some direction. I spent the next couple of chapters just wandering through the game not really knowing what I was doing or where I was going. To tell you the truth I couldn’t even play this game in one sitting and had to break it up into three different sittings even though the total time I spent playing this game was maybe 3 hours. I could never really get into the main story or the kings story enough to actually care about what was going on and it made me just not want to play the game at all.

The gameplay for this game is a little jumbled to where each chapter, although it’s the same concept, it’s completely different. One minute you’re throwing black balls of paint to see where you’re going, the next you’re throwing balls of water, at least I think it was water, to grow vines so that you can climb up and down walls, next it’s back to the black paint to guide a light around a dark forest, and then you’re making boxes. I really never had a solid idea of what I was doing or why I was doing it throughout the course of this game. It just seemed like this game was made by four different people who all wanted something different so decided to devote a chapter to it. There was no right or wrong way to throw the paint, or was there? I have no idea. Throw too much paint and you have a black surface much like the white one that you were just staring at. Throw too many water balloons and the vines are growing out of control and you have no idea where to go. Build the boxes the wrong height and you can’t do anything useful with them.

I don’t really know what to say about the graphics for this game. I can see the genius of having just white space and letting the player paint their way through the scenery, but the overuse of paint can make the scenery become obsolete. The other areas where the scenery is clearly defined just looks too basic. I will say this though, the art that tells the story of Monroe and the sleeping King is gorgeous and looks like something right out of a story book.

Luckly there are only 10 trophies for this game. There are four trophies for getting through the whole game, two random trophies that really make no sense and have no effect on the game, two collectible trophies, one for balloons and one for story pages, one trophy for using a certain telescope in the game, and one trophy for making your way through the first part of the first chapter while only using three black paint balls. The last trophy you will definitely need a guide for because there is no way that you’re going to be able to do it without a guide. Other then the last trophy, the rest of them are basically pretty easy and this game will only require one full playthrough while you go back through chapter select to collect the rest of the collectibles. I would advise you to keep track of the story pages you reveal in the chapters since the game doesn’t do it for you. This way when you have to go back and finish collecting the story pages, you can have some idea of what you have and don’t have.

Yay for no multiplayer.

Overall I give this game a 2 out of 5

What’s Great:
+ Interesting concept that hasn’t been done before.

What’s Not So Great:
Chapters become confusing without a clear direction of what should be done.
Too many different concepts in such a small game.
While playing you might get disorientated at times which is not fun.
Dull and uninteresting graphics that allow you to “paint” your way, but only in a certain way.

This is one of those games where I felt like if I didn’t like it, which I didn’t, then it would seem like I was a complete moron because I just didn’t “understand” the game or the beauty behind it, or even the art behind it. Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely love these small little games that care more about the story and the art that goes into it just as much as I love the AAA titles that I play. This game was just too “artsy” for me. The concept behind the game was genius, but I feel that it just didn’t accomplish what it had originally set out since it seemed so jumbled and kind of all over the place. Even though I could play this game again on the PS Vita and PS3, I’m going to give it a big pass. Once was definitely enough for me and I would say to play this game once if you got it for free so that you can see what it’s like for yourself. If you have to pay for it, I would say give it a big pass. There are plenty of other games you can spend your hard earned money on.


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