The first time I realized that I no longer had the amount of time to play video games as I had in the past was when I first got married. My wife is one of those people who can’t sleep when other people are awake in the house (which was not a quality she listed on her marriage application) and she insisted that I go to bed at the same time as her. This meant I was no longer able to stay up until 4 in the morning playing games, but it also meant I was awake at work more often and eventually resulted in a promotion.
My second realization came when I became a father. It’s impossible to play most games while holding a screaming infant and if I sneak away for too long my wife usually notices I’m not engaged in the act of child care and comes hunting me down.
You might be wondering how this is all relevant, and you are in luck because I’m going to tell you. Since I felt my time slipping away I wanted to make sure the games I played offered a unique experience. After seeing the trailers for ‘The Unfinished Swan’ I thought that it might fit the bill.
The story follows a young boy named Monroe who gets lost in a world of paintings after his mother passes away. One of these paintings is of the Unfinished Swan who Monroe is trying to catch. The story is strange and hard to interpret. On the surface it feels like it should be deep and full of meaning but after finishing the game it didn’t seem to have quite the impact of other games that have tried to narrate difficult subject matters. I did search online and read the explanation behind the ending and I found it to be quite unsatisfactory. Not to say it isn’t interesting – I just feel that it could have been done better, or at least clearer.
The game itself involves navigating through a world of unfinished paintings. Many objects have no defined edges and you need to throw ink blobs at them so that you can see your way around. There are a few small puzzles that need to be solved as well but for the most part this is an exploration game. There aren’t any enemies to defeat, all you need to do is find your way to the end of the stages. For extra fun there are hidden balloons that you can find to unlock bonus features.
Using ink blobs as a means to see invisible objects is fun at first, but it gets old quickly. Fortunately the game dynamics change periodically so things keep feeling fresh. The game itself isn’t very long (only about 3 hours) so it doesn’t have too much of a chance to get weighed down by repetitive gameplay.
The storybook style presentation of the game really appealed to my boys, and the short, unique gameplay appealed to my desire to play unique games in the limited amounts of time I have these days. My boys enjoyed keeping an eye out for Swan footprints and the hidden balloons, and generally the game was interesting enough to hold their interest (especially the narrated storybook scenes).
The game is short but entertaining and unique. I doubt I’ll be going back to it, but I think it was worth at least one play- through.
- Unique game play experience.
- It’s very short.