Am I the only one getting a feeling of nausea playing this game? I don't mean to troll, for real. Especially at the beginning the lack of perspective makes me sick! And the first person view does't help either. Too bad, because I kinda like this game.
The Unfinished Swan Review
The Unfinished Swan's childlike sense of wonder doesn't fully mask its simplistic gameplay.
- Innovative painting mechanic
- Fairy-tale storyline keeps you moving forward.
- Shallow and repetitive gameplay
- Easy puzzles fail to engage you in the world.
A completely blank screen, save a tiny reticle, is what greets you when you first start The Unfinished Swan. You might stare at the screen equally blankly for a few seconds, anticipating the conclusion of a load that isn't happening. Instead, with no tutorial or instructions of any kind (unless you've looked at the controller options), you must grab your Sixaxis or PlayStation Move controller and experiment. You soon find you can shoot little balls of black paint with the press of the trigger, and the paint--if you spread it liberally enough--eventually reveals the contours of the first level, which you navigate from a first-person perspective.
As you make your way through the game's levels, the story is revealed to you in the form of an elaborate fairy tale about a king who craves control. You play as Monroe, a small boy who was placed in an orphanage after his mother's death. Allowed to keep one of his mother's many paintings as a keepsake, Monroe chooses her unfinished painting of a swan, and it's possible that the gameworld takes place inside this magical painting--or perhaps in a dream. The swan itself acts as your guide throughout the game, its footsteps leading you along the right path, and its occasional trumpets drawing your attention to important events.
It's not all black paint and feeling your way through the maps, however. As you get further in, The Unfinished Swan expands into a more traditional first-person puzzle game. On one level, you use aqua paint blotches to "water" a never-ending vine plant to make it grow over walls so you can climb them, for example. On another, the dark-on-light motif is reversed as you try to feel your way through a nighttime forest. While these changes are great atmospherically, they also emphasize the extreme simplicity of The Unfinished Swan's gameplay. You just walk around, point, and shoot. That's it. Sometimes the paint does more than reveal the level's structure, but it never does more than one thing (such as make vines grow).
Thus, the puzzles in The Unfinished Swan feel more like a shallow afterthought than a way of enhancing your emotional connection to the proceedings--you just keep pressing the "shoot paint" button until something happens. Additionally, the game gives you plenty of clues in the form of assistance from the titular swan or from other paintings and maps you come across, which further inhibits your intellectual engagement. Outside the core activities, you fire paint pellets at balloons to collect them. Collecting these allows you to unlock new abilities to use in the game, which might make it simpler and quicker to throw paint around, lead you more easily to the hidden balloons, or allow you to access chapters directly from the main menu. But none of these new abilities meaningfully deepen or expand the core mechanics, nor do they add layers to the gameworld.
That gameworld is extremely sparse and minimalist. It's a striking aesthetic, and it grows somewhat more colorful as you proceed, but it tends to add to the monochrome nature of the game--in every sense of the word. There’s a fine line between simple and simplistic, and The Unfinished Swan ends up on the wrong side of it all too often. Your interaction with the game rarely evolves, and ultimately is secondary to its value as a work of art and entertainment. The storyline and sense of wonder, then, must bolster the primary offering--and they do, to a certain extent. But to experience this world to its fullest, you must discover (and shoot) semi-hidden story panels throughout the game world, which is a frustrating limitation given how the game relies primarily on elements other than gameplay to draw you in.
Nevertheless, there's much to admire about The Unfinished Swan, even if it feels, well, unfinished. The basic idea behind its paint-blotching mechanic is innovative, and you can imagine a fuller realization of it in a game yet to come. And though the storyline is childlike, it isn't puerile, and the denouement offers more emotional heft than you might be prepared for. More than anything, The Unfinished Swan feels promising, but promising gets you only so far in a work of art, and the truth is, this one just isn't ready for the museum.
i am leaving gamespot for IGN
jet set radio 6.0
escape plan 6.0
i am quite sure they are being bribed
@closeworldopen Yup. Just look at Mirror's Edge and Journey.
I believe they changed Journey's review from a 7.5 to a 9.+ after fan rage.
the price my be a bit high for most ppl, but i think games like this, i am alive and journey are worth it and i like suporting the companys that make them so ya. but i really like the game very diffrent and a nice change.
Not a bad game at all. I feel that the score is accurate enough and coincides with my thoughts and feelings for the game. Definitely worth playing and finishing though if you ever get the opportunity, at least.
i was gonna pass anyway till the price drops. i wouldnt pay more than 4.99 for this. 14.99 is alot to ask for a few hours. felt the same way about i am alive and journey. good games, way too expensive for the content and no replay value. pass for me.
Dear Esther was Amazing i don't care if people say its not a game i enjoyed walking through the caves with max setting on my computer looked so good
Games like this are hard to judge. Artsy games like Fez, Dear Esther and Journey aren't very compelling from a gameplay standpoint, but I think all three are excellent games nonetheless. Even though they're not challenging and the gameplay is very limited, I find myself thinking about games like Dear Esther long after I beat them -- and that's something I can't even say for many excellent gameplay-centric titles like Kingdoms of Amalur or Borderlands 2.
@IceJester45 I dream every night about Kingdoms of Amalur. Much more action and fun than being purchased by an unfinished swan. To each his own.
It's a decent game from an artistic perspective.
It would be better if the game was shorter, more condensed and there was actually less gameplay.
Another game for the Steam sale :)
@naryanrobinson Steam sale? It's a PS3 exclusive, produced by Sony Santa Monica. Not coming to PC anytime soon.
@lmaocarrots This game may be platform exclusive, but Steam isn't.
@indigoAK200 Hmm, that's an interesting way of admitting defeat. I'll be sure to write that down.
@naryanrobinson It must be nice to live in a fantasy world. Give my regards to Stalin. It's been too long since we've sat down for a beer.
@indigoAK200 Yeah and I believe Gabe said Steam will never come to Playstation, so so much for that theory. The PS4 front will probably be more or less the exact same thing so there's no reason why not to enter this cycle.
Mikami said he'd cut off his head before his game went MP, and now it's on more platforms than any other game, so that's not such a strong theory either.
@naryanrobinson Right, because there's all kinds of precedent for companies releasing competing storefronts on the PlayStation.
Steam will never come to PlayStation 3 as a storefront. Never. There's no money in it for Valve this late in the cycle, especially since there's already a storefront for PlayStation 3 games on the PlayStation 3 called the PlayStation Store.
Which doesn't even touch on the fact that The Unfinished Swam will never be available for Steam. It's not a PC game. It will never be a PC game. Not unless the universe turns upside down and Sony's right to the game suddenly cease to exist. Admittedly, that's unlikely.
@indigoAK200 *Now* maybe. But it'll come.
Very funny meds joke by the way. So clever.
@naryanrobinson I think you forgot to take your meds today.
This game isn't available on Steam on any platform. The only way to buy it is using the PlayStation Store. Nevermind the fact that there is no Steam storefront available for PlayStation 3 in any legal capacity. Which wouldn't help you anyway since the game isn't available on Steam.
@OddityInfinitas Ugh. Maybe you could use Google or something and figure out the riddle for yourself. Then you could come back and say something informed.
I'm not sure what to make of this one. Since it was announced I thought this was going to be more Flower than Portal (both of which I love), but hearing that it changes from painter to puzzler strikes me as a little bipolar. And by not really defining itself, it fails to excel at either puzzles or art, so why would you bother with it?
@mateyman totally. looks great but man for 5 bucks more that a greatest hits title for way more game. too much for too little
I created this account just to ask this, is @Gelugon_baat this annoying? Mate can you just respect each of the commenter's opinion and just agree to disagree. Just play games instead of wasting your time prowling on different comment section, jumping on guys who disagrees with you. Seriously mate.
@CriticallyAnnoy The guy is in EVERY SINGLE review out there. Check it out if you're feeling brave.
A moderator once told me Gelugon is not an alt account of a GameSpot employee, swearing moderators would catch it if that was the case. I'm still not convinced - and even if that's true I'd bet we're talking about a significant other or family member to one of the 'gamespotters'. Can't believe someone not directly affiliated would be this invested in being the permanent, 24/7 resident Gamespot staff advocate Gelugon is.
@CriticallyAnnoy juz ignore if u saw that name lol, i did that all the time, and it will get less anoyying
ign gave this game 9 or 9.5...they also gave many other indies on the ps3 the same scores...those games on gamespot also got 9's yet this received 6.5.... inconsistencies are very questionable in the professional avenue of reviews
@obsequies I would argue the opposite. Overly consistent review scores, especially high ones, typically indicate a lack of objectivism. In any case, I'm happy there's still one review site that isn't contributing to the absurd inflation problem we're seeing with game reviews these days.
People really want to make the games that they like look good , don't they ? If this game were to be a iOS game then i'll play , otherwise ... nope !!!
@mastertien123 " If this game were to be a iOS game then i'll play" and you call yourself a gamer? smh
@GreenReuben iOS games to me are just for wasting time on the bus . And this game fall into those category to me after seeing the gameplay . But the game looks really artistic though .
I just think that, for online "publications" -- for lack of a better word -- such as Gamespot, there should at least be a second opinion/writeup by another editor for games. Not like I'm introducing a new idea here, but after reading that Dear Esther got a free pass in regards to gameplay, I feel that having that second opinion may avoid confusion and criticism of review structure.
Finally, I'd like to point out that my only experience with this game is from a ~20 minute Youtube video, so I lack the bias you may suspect.
@SolidSnakeFan Do you want them to pay and allocate two reviewers per game (or perhaps only certain games)? Advertising moneys ain't what it used to be, and even if GameSpot was swimming in money, that is quite redundant. If two employed reviewers each publish reviews of similar view and context, then its monotonous and wasteful. If they have two reviews of conflicting views then it feeds into the reader's nepotism; as if there wasn't already enough people that read reviews to only hear what they want.
If you want a second opinion, there are user posted reviews/comments, and other gaming websites. Metacritic is also an option, though personally I do not use it. I don't always agree with GS reviewers, but I've never felt the need to. I read GS reviews and can usually interpret their feelings and opinions to determine my own interest, even if my own taste differs greatly. Of course, the problem with being a collector like me is, I tend to buy most games either way. Even games I don't like. Such is life.
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@Gelugon_baat Gamespot ain't a one man show, and coming to know the staff, I'd love to have another opinion thrown in. You make it sound like a crime.
And how would it serve to confuse? I stated that with such titles like "Dear Esther", garnering an 8.0 with no overt criticism -- from "The Bad" section -- of the lack of gameplay is confusing when such a negative bulletpoint has such an effect on "The Unfinished Swan"'s score.
"Maybe it would help those who haven't come to such a realization arrive there faster"
Yeah that's totally a linear line of thinking. Good thing that doesn't much apply in the real world.
Keep fighting the good fight, man. One day the the arrogant, pink haired avatar will disappear, and we'll all be more comfortable knowing there won't be any snide, unprovoked replies in our inboxes.
@Gelugon_baat Confused it with PM's, sweet pea. xD :P ;)
I genuinely think I've been thorough with my responses.
I look forward to seeing your continued blight* on this community, since you're obviously done here, as am I. Maybe you were "done" after the first response, and have only been yankin' my chain. If so, hey I had my fun too.
*I say blight because I've gotten PM's regarding my response to your comment back on the "Hell Yeah!" review, pointing out your continued redundancy. That and the comment got 4 likes; miniscule numbers, but it's telling.
@Gelugon_baat Nah, at first I'm a "fanboy" and now it's "differing opinions"; you get off on bullspittin' people. I've elaborated plenty; most of it you've disregarded with emoticons or dodging the response altogether. "Linear thinking" was used all of two times, both of which you had a hard time making sense of it, for some reason.
And that wasn't reciting from a dictionary, however cute that was of you to suggest.
I can only pick one, guy.
@Gelugon_baat Linear, undeviating, beeline, rigid; is that good enough? I'm worried ya' don't know what "linear" means, if that's not good enough. If I'm wanting Gamespot to introduce a system where they have another editor pitch in with an opinion ala GameInformer (etc., etc.,), and you're saying "No! Who needs to hear the same thing twice! Even then, that would confuse Gamespot's "stance"!", that's linear thinking... and perhaps other unmentionable things.
And as for thinking that I'm criticizing "for the sake of the game" and that I'll end up looking like "a fan": that couldn't be any further from the truth and is a linear line of thinking. Now that I think about it, you might just be crazy in thinking so.
@Gelugon_baat Last paragraph of yours is suffering from your linear line of thinking again. Please, don't project your own limitations on other folks. Every other comment in this article unfortunately bears some arrogant, emoticon laden response of yours.
And again, I'd really appreciate it if you could garner even a hint of comprehension, because as I've said, I don't know anything about the game aside from this review and the video. To carry a bias for a game I've no interest in is quite the interesting concept you seem to pridefully carry, though. Please, continue.
@Gelugon_baat Boy, I had a response ready to go, but your excessive condescending use of emoticons totally put a stop to such a notion.
I firmly believe that you're Gamespot's resident troll, after this exchange. That and you're still here on this particular review after your initial comment made four hours ago.
And as I stated before, I lack any sort of bias towards this game because it was brought to my attention only yesterday through a Youtube video, but nah, you glanced right over it just to convey your typical smarm. You're icky.
@Gelugon_baat Quick aside: I know you'll pick apart the "score" comment, because that's what you do, but I too care little about score. But in this instance, in this particular point I made? Yeah, I had to say something.