Quick Fix: With a fantastic twist on a similar game play mechanic, a whimsical story and only a few hours to complete, the Unfinished Swan is another key proponent that games can be taken as art as well as a fresh and fun game.
As graphic fidelity gets better and technology gets more advanced, games will continue to grow more beautiful. Thus, the debate of whether games can be considered art becomes more muddled. To throw more fuel to the fire, Sony and Giant Sparrow have released Unfinished Swan, a beautiful and elegant video game that helps keep the medium in the art category.
Taking the reins, the player will control a little boy named Monroe and his magic brush. Monroe has somehow transported himself to a far away land and must navigate his way through to find his way home.
Similarly, the story is told through simple watercolor cut scenes and the world the player moves through. There are also little storybook pages to hit that give a side story of the king who rules this magical kingdom.
|One of the original storyboards the player comes across|
The audio and music are simple in taste, with only grunts and groans from the little boy and one to two instrument sound tracks typically per level. But it helps add to the elegant simplicity of ‘Unfinished Swan’ and never takes away from it. There is a woman narrator to help move along the story between chapters as well, but that’s about as complex as the audio gets.
The game is a great experience regardless of your skill in playing video games. Never has using the first person view and ‘shooter’ controls felt so silly and refreshing. From this point of view you spray paint (and other liquids) to make your way through the magical world to navigate and solve puzzles. There’s no real complexity to the game, as the same control scheme of move, shoot and jump is used through out all levels of the game, but small twists from each chapter help keep everything fresh without actually adding more to the gameplay.
|There's nothing like looking back on your personal work of art as you explore|
A great example of this is moving from the first to the second chapter, where shadows are added to architecture and the color blue is added to the water, but the boy loses the ability to throw paint, instead throwing water, which doesn’t stay forever.
This simple control scheme means some one with little gaming experience, such as my 6-year-old brother, can pick up and enjoy the game just as I do, without having to learn complex control schemes and strategies. This also means the game is rather shallow, especially when you break down all the atmosphere and look at the core game mechanics through out the game.
|An example of a later level that adds shadow and color|
Though the game is a refreshing experience, the lack of actual depth may turn people who really want a really engaging experience. And after the story is beat, aside form a few collectibles there isn’t a whole lot of reason to go through the game again, though I HIGHLY recommend playing the original prototype level the developers created as their school project before they became a development team.
Though roughly 2 to 3 hours long and shallow with it’s mechanics, Unfinished Swan is another log on the flame towards game being considered art. It’s a great, whimsical story that uses first person mechanics in ways most games wouldn’t even think about. If you’re looking for something light and experimental, dive in. If you’re looking for something deep and fulfilling, look elsewhere.
9.0 out of 10
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