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    dkirschner's The Unfinished Swan (PS4)

    [March 11, 2024 08:21:56 AM]
    I’ve taken an embarrassingly long time to get to this PS3 (!) game (and soon, both Flower and Journey [and I really, really hope I have not waited out the wonder that Journey has sparked for so many players]). Before beginning The Unfinished Swan, I thought it would be something like Beyond Eyes or Chicory: A Colorful Tale, two games that probably derived inspiration from it. I thought that you’d “paint the world” to navigate it, progress the story, solve puzzles, or whatever. And yeah, that was spot on, except instead of painting with a brush, you lob paintballs, which is a more chaotic way to apply color.

    Though the game itself is not chaotic! It’s so straightforward and static that my girlfriend asked if it was a children’s game. You go through four chapters, and in each chapter, you do something a little different with the paint. For example, in the first chapter you shoot black paintballs at white space to reveal the level geometry: walls, stairs, doors, and so on. This was interesting, if basic, lobbing paintballs around until you saw stairs or a door or a hallway, walking there, then lobbing more paintballs until you saw the next way forward, and repeat to the exit. In the second chapter, you shoot “water” balls at vines. The vines grow and you can climb them, so this chapter had some light platforming. This was my least favorite chapter by far because it was tedious to direct the vines where you wanted them to go. Hold down the triggers and just wait for the vines to creep…neat to watch them grow, but boring after a few minutes.

    The last use of paint was the most interesting, to shoot lights to illuminate dark areas, and to shoot paint at a light orb, following it down a river. (If you attempt to walk in the dark, spiders attack you and a terrible, tinny screeching noise emerges from the controller. It was so jarring that I turned off the sound effects until I figured out the trick with the lights!). Then the very last thing was, for some reason, unrelated to paint. You basically create blocks in the environment, then use them to platform around. This was neat and could have been the basis for some more puzzles, but felt like a level from a different game.

    The whole thing is wrapped up in a children’s storybook narrative about a king, his wife (representing the main child character’s mother), and his mismanaged kingdom. Also featuring a giant swan who appears to honk at you and run away, which made me think of Untitled Goose Game. The swan is, as you may have guessed, an unfinished painting. Specifically, its neck is missing, which raises questions about how it can vocalize.

    Interesting game for sure, and short enough to not wear out its novelty. Similar mechanics are implemented better and more cohesively in other games, but I can’t knock it for 2012. I did notice a familiar name in the credits, Ben Esposito, who made Donut County (underwhelming) and worked on What Remains of Edith Finch (loved). Looks like this was one of his first.
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    dkirschner's The Unfinished Swan (PS4)

    Current Status: Finished playing

    GameLog started on: Friday 8 March, 2024

    GameLog closed on: Saturday 9 March, 2024

    dkirschner's opinion and rating for this game

    Way behind playing this...shoot paintballs to uncover the world. Not quite what I expected! ---------- Neat, but a bit repetitive and disjointed.

    Rating (out of 5):starstarstarstar

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