The Unfinished Swan Preview
In my opinion, we need more games like Flower and Journey, and we need developers other than Thatgamecompany to deliver such experiences. The artistic nature of interactive entertainment definitely needs to expand, and if that requires tossing paint around like Jackson Pollack on a bender, then so be it. Of course, the paint you spray about in The Unfinished Swan will reveal a path, so there’s a method to the madness. And remember, that’s not the only gameplay mechanic involved; there's more beneath the surface...
Developer Giant Sparrow isn’t going for a guided tour. They’re going to let you explore and discover on your own; although this may sound a little obscure and potentially frustrating, it should really put you in touch with the process. You may recall that at the start of Flower, you were greeted with a single flower waving gently in the breeze. What to do…? Well, press a button and find out. At the start of The Unfinished Swan, you will be presented with white nothingness and handholding is most certainly not in the design cards.
You’ll be able to use either the standard controller or the PlayStation Move. After you’ve selected your method of control, you will step into the sneakers of a young boy named Monroe, who one day finds that he is actually in the art he and his mother so adore. You’ll view your strange surroundings from a first-person perspective and at first, you will slap some paint around in an effort to reveal the path and progress. The interesting part is that Monroe doesn’t have arms…how he throws the paint is something of a mystery, but it’s all part of the surreal presentation.
With a storybook plot and some quaint voice performances, this one should be both relaxing and even nostalgic. And when I say nostalgic, I’m not referring to the video game world (you’ve probably never played anything like this before); I’m referring more to your childhood, where rose-tinged memories always reign. For whatever reason, this project reminds me of the many stories I enjoyed as a kid, like “Winnie the Pooh.” There is no surface resemblance, of course, but it’s in the atmosphere, the ambiance, and the intention of the designers to make us feel all…cozy.
But there should also be a significant aura of mystery and awe as well. There will indeed be other gameplay mechanics – you won’t be throwing paint the entire time – but they haven’t announced those mechanics just yet. However, given the first gameplay detail, we have to expect something totally original and innovative. The adventure won’t last much longer than two or three hours but then again, that’s about the length of Journey. And we remember Thatgamecompany boss Jenova Chen’s view on game length, and why more isn’t necessarily better.
The Unfinished Swan will land later this year on the PlayStation Network and although we don’t have a price just yet, we figure it’ll be worth a look at the $14.99 price point. With the potential involved, anything less might be a deal. Stay tuned for more on this highly stylized and unique title.
5/14/2012 Ben Dutka