Tag Archives: The Unfinished Swan

POLISHING OFF: The Unfinished Swan

polishing-off-unfinished-swan

After polishing off Kung Fu Rabbit, I did another quick scan of the items closer to the top of my long, never not growing list of PlayStation Plus titles on the ol’ PlayStation 3, which still, to this day, probably gets the least attention from me. Yup, even my Wii U sees more turning on…granted, that’s mostly for Netflix in bed, but whatevs. I stopped on The Unfinished Swan, which, with its very name alone, demanded I jump back in, balls of paint at the ready, and complete whatever was left to complete. Turns out, not all that much.

It’s weird to realize that The Unfinished Swan is a game I totally played earlier this year, but them’s the facts. By the time credits had rolled, I had done a majority of everything there was to do, save for find all the collectibles, which in this game took the form as balloons hidden in the environment, and launch a blueprint box in the air at two different amounts of height. Anyways, to get those last ones, you first need to find all the balloons, as doing that then gives you access to the sniper rifle–calm down, Call of Duty players, it still only shoots paint and only for non-violent reasons–which helps to knock tossed items higher into the sky.

Honestly, the gathering up of balloons wasn’t as bad as I might have expected. I must have gotten a good chunk of them on my initial playthrough. However, maybe you are like me though–and if so, I’m sorry–and the thought of replaying entire sections of levels you just played to get a specific item or two can seem like too much or not a big barrel of fun, considering it isn’t anything fresh or unexpected. That said, with the help of the “balloon radar,” which fills up as you get closer to a collectible, it wasn’t too bad to find the remainder, except for the levels at the end of the game, which are dark and shrouded in shadows and spiders that only want to hurt you. At one point, I knew a balloon was somewhere nearby, but I had little light at my side and just started tossing paint balls left and right, eventually hitting it–talk about a shot in the dark.

After all that, I took one look at “Minimalist,” a Trophy asking the player to reach the Watchtower from the game’s opening level without throwing more than three paint balls, and an even harder look at a text walkthrough of how to do exactly that before deciding “no thanks” and uninstalled The Unfinished Swan from my PlayStation 3’s hard drive. To me, this swan was more than finished.

Completing a game doesn’t often mean finishing everything there is to do. For many games, long after I’ve given them a haiku review and post of final thoughts, there are still collectibles to find, side quests to complete, things to unlock, challenges to master, and so on. POLISHING OFF is a new regular feature where I dive into these checklist items in hope of finishing the game as fully as possible so that I can then move on to the one hundred and thirty-eight million other games begging for my attention.

 

This is my kingdom, where splatting globs of paint rules

gd final impressions unfinished swan

I shouldn’t have waited almost four years to play Giant Sparrow’s The Unfinished Swan. Nor should I have waited to play it since downloading it for “free” back in May 2015 as part of being a PlayStation Plus subscriber. I mean, it’s a short thing, an experience completely capable of devouring within a few hours, which I did recently on my day off thanks to all them presidents and whales.

For some reason, in my mind, I had paired this with Antichamber, which I’ve not played, but what seems like a lengthy and somewhat obtuse puzzle game. One I definitely want to try, but worry I don’t have the brain capacity to handle right now. Both also have amazing styles, where color is king, but thankfully the puzzles in The Unfinished Swan won’t melt your mind. Instead, you’ll find childlike glee and fascination in a straightforward, yet somewhat depressing story about magical and imaginary beings and lands.

The Unfinished Swan tells the touching tale of a young boy named Monroe, who travels through one of his deceased mother’s paintings to reach a mysterious fairytale-like realm, chasing after the titular farm animal. As Monroe makes his way forward, he’ll learn about the king of this world, who is no super saint and will leave you a bit conflicted by the time credits roll. Actually, credits don’t roll per se, but rather unfold as you play through them, and it’s fantastic, right up there with other playable credits, like in Vanquish.

The game is split into a few main chapters (and epilogue), each with its own look and mechanics. Clearly, the first chapter is The Unfinished Swan‘s most effective, opening to stark whiteness, with your only tool being tossing globs of black paint to reveal the world around you. You can use as little or as much paint as you want, and I found myself unable to not fill in the edges of the world to ensure I missed nothing. This is, in fact, only a slice of the game, with the other chapters relying on similar, but not identical mechanics revolving around tossing substances at things. Some work better than others; for instance, I disliked directing and climbing vines, and found getting stuck–and hurt–in the encroaching darkness to be strangely off-putting when compared to everything else up to that point, which never really threw danger in your face.

Naturally, color is used effectively from section to section. Golden crowns and orange footprints (gooseprints?) help direct you early on in The Unfinished Swan when you’re unsure where to go, and massive black-and-white city is fascinating to behold from afar. I constantly had the urge to jump into a spaceship and zip through it like in Race the Sun, but that’s probably just me. Later on, you’ll travel to another dimension where everything is blue, like unrolled blueprints, or desperately follow after a ball of light to not only survive the monsters stalking after you, but see where you need to go next.

Other than progressing forward linearly, there are balloons to collect, and these collectibles act as currency to buy power-ups, like being about to shoot paint in a hose-like fashion, and other goodies, like concept art. Do yourself a favor and buy the “balloon radar” toy as soon as possible, which will alert you as you get near a collectible. That said, I did not get all the balloons on my first playthrough, but similar to Rain, you can pop back into a chapter easily to find what you missed. Thankfully, not similar to Rain, these balloons are obtainable on your first go, so I only have a few left to snag. Mostly in the last main chapter, as there was a time pressure element at hand that caused me to ignore everything around me unless it served to get Monroe to safety.

So, I really liked The Unfinished Swan. It wasn’t exactly what I was expecting, based on only knowing how that first chapter played out from some Internet coverage, but that’s okay. In this day and age, it’s nice to not have everything about everything known to you beforehand. Also, more games need a button you can repeatedly press to have the main character call out for someone, anyone, à la Luigi’s Mansion. Despite nobody ever answering poor, lonely Monroe, I continued to push the button every few minutes, to ground myself and him in this world, to make noise.

2016 Game Review Haiku, #14 – The Unfinished Swan

2016 gd games completed the unfinished swan

See the world through paint
Casual shooter plus vines
Short, but sweet story

Here we go again. Another year of me attempting to produce quality Japanese poetry about the videogames I complete in three syllable-based phases of 5, 7, and 5. I hope you never tire of this because, as far as I can see into the murky darkness–and leap year–that is 2016, I’ll never tire of it either. Perhaps this’ll be the year I finally cross the one hundred mark. Buckle up–it’s sure to be a bumpy ride. Yoi ryokō o.