While Journey may have taken the lion’s share of PSN plaudits for 2012, it wasn’t the only piece of simple beauty to hit the service. The Unfinished Swan also arrived, and while it perhaps didn’t get as much end of year recognition as Journey, it was still one of the most interesting titles that was released in 2012.
It also had our most interesting review of the year, or probably ever, at least from a presentation stand point. Alex busted out some clever technology for it (you can read about it here), although it wasn’t the technological feats of the game’s paint splatter system that he pulled out as the game’s biggest achievement. It wasn’t the story either, although he did call it “exquisitely melancholic”.[drop2]No, for Alex the game’s biggest achievement was the way it simply left you alone, allowing you to get on with things yourself. It’s rare for any game to do this any more but the way that The Unfinished Swan literally gives you a blank canvas is something special in and of itself.
Alex called the feeling this leaves you with “nothing less than freedom, a sense of pure independence that escapes the medium like nothing else before it,” and it’s clear to see why. It’s probably the most extreme example of an exploration mechanic you can have, leaving you to not only discover what’s in the world but the world itself.
What’s clever about the game though is that despite this sense of freedom the game manages to keep pushing you forwards, with “wonderful level design [that] draws you back in quickly” should you lose focus. Alex praised the game’s “surprisingly delicate guidance” that urges “you forward without ever making it obvious.”
While Alex didn’t find any major problems, he did note that as the game moves forwards and the mechanics expand that it “simply doesn’t feel as tightly produced and honed as those opening few levels do,” and at points it edges “towards the developers trying to do too much.” He did also point out that “there are moments of pure genius (and possibly madness) in the game’s latter sections,” so it’s clear that the game doesn’t exactly fall apart once you move past the almost blissful opening area.
Ultimately he rated the game at 9/10 and had this to say in conclusion:
There’s something powerful about The Unfinished Swan. Initially it’s the unrivalled glee that the sprayed ink provides – something we’ve never seen before – but ultimately it’s about the ink on the pages of a bedtime story. An elegant, fragile tale that slowly grows from wide-eyed learning and exploration to a looming darkness. Tragic, powerful and thought-provoking, but also intelligent, witty and beautiful – Giant Sparrow’s debut is begging to be played.
So there you have Alex’s views on flinging paint and for the first time in 2012 it’s time to ask you for your thoughts about the title. Did you enjoy it as much as Alex clearly did, or did you not find the whole thing quite as freeing as him? Did you love flinging paint around, or could you not quite get to grips with it?
Whatever your feelings about the game you can share them by dropping a comment below. All we ask is that you attach a rating to the game, and as The Unfinished Swan is only available on PSN we’ll be using our digital rating scale. You can rate the game as Buy It, Plus It or Avoid It, with Plus It meaning that the game is only worth picking up if it’s available discounted or free on PlayStation Plus.
If you do feel like taking part you’ll need to get your comment in by Sunday afternoon so that we can post the community’s verdict of the game on Monday.