Freeola Internet Get Dotted Domains Blog Guides Chat
Menu

Viewing Thread:
'The Unfinished Swan'

This thread has been linked to the game 'The Unfinished Swan'.
Thu 14/02/13 at 07:37:
Regular
"previously phuzzy."
Posts: 3,487
Sony’s admirable crusade to bring niche, unique or otherwise abstract oddities to the mainstream continues, with another title that likely wouldn’t have seen the light of day only a few years ago. The release of The Unfinished Swan helped wrap up an incredible year for gaming curios (and perhaps the first in which marketing spend somewhat matched creative ambition). An interesting gameplay gambit presented in an ambiguous trailer evoking images of a sparse, minimalist Wonderland, teasing with allegorical hints as the swooping camera gets closer to the eponymous bird, but never quite catches it. It was hard not to be intrigued.

Developed by Giant Sparrow, an offshoot from the USC Interactive Media program, The Unfinished Swan is based on the pleasing notion of ‘the world as a canvas’, with the player as painter, revealing the environment, its intricacies and inhabitants through artistic exploration. An exciting proposition - it’s easy to envisage the myriad possibilities – and, for a while, creativity abounds. The gradual unveiling of a forest from nothing is astonishing. Similarly, the views from the top of a tower as you finally see the wood for the trees looking down over your domain of half-colour half-void handiwork is breath-taking.

Unfortunately though, the game itself seems bewitched by its own magic, expanding the notion as far as it can, before promptly running out of steam. This becomes quickly apparent - even whilst revelling in the initial joy in exposing a hidden world, it’s hard to get lost in the atmosphere as you mash the shoulder buttons to shade in as much as possible, as quickly as possible – and I imagine the tedium threshold is likely much, much lower if you crazily opt to use the compatible PlayStation Move controller. Waggle waggle.

Evidently realising colouring in does not a full game make, Giant Sparrow added bolts, bells and whistles which try to hide the fact. Alas, as with countless other ponies and their singular tricks, they only serve in making it that much more prominent. Painting in the traditional sense is pretty much discarded early in the game, and in one stage makes absolutely no sense whatsoever. If it weren’t for an extremely pleasant ending scene, you’d have forgotten the fact you’d ever painted anything at all. Instead of thinking about how best to develop its one central idea, The Unfinished Swan simply moves on to the next.

That’s not to say the game doesn’t conjure moments of delight. Frequent flourishes add charm to a game which, on paper, should be full of it – but in actual finds itself sorely lacking. Without spoiling any; look out for a telescope which sees two worlds, and never ignore odd-shaped trellises. It’s just a shame that these couldn’t have been even more regular, and perhaps more tightly bound in the fable which The Unfinished Swan tirelessly tries to tell.

Interestingly, many of these moments are illustrated in the concept art which can be unlocked after collecting a certain number of ‘balloons’ (the obligatory trophy / replay value design concession). Whether this indicates that almost everything conceived for the game was included, or instead that the concept art viewable is simply a small selection, is not clear. However, it does seem indicative of the main problem with The Unfinished Swan – its core idea is too weak to stand alone.

This lack of direction is manifest in a number of ways. At one point you can take ‘damage’, which feels as out of place as it did in Flower (if slightly less ridiculous by virtue of the fact that a boy is much more likely to be hurt than a gust of wind). At others it feels like a mediocre 1st-person platformer. Even the yarn The Unfinished Swan tries to spin is shallow and confused – a story of an orphan yearning for his mother, awkwardly juxtaposed alongside the world of a dreaming king who has some truly remarkable procrastination issues.

Whilst the storytelling comes across as trite (with the narrator sounding like a bored dictation software voiceover) there’s something quite satisfying about the experience that’s difficult to define. The soundtrack is mesmerising, and creates atmosphere and tension where the story fails. The worlds themselves are almost all universally pretty, and on occasion things of staggering beauty.

Particularly striking is the contrast between environments which segue effortlessly into each other. The stark white kingdom slowly revealing its fantastical, Escheresque architecture for example, as well as between a dilapidated forest house and its physical manifestation in a strange ‘blueprint’ world that pays compliments to both Mirror’s Edge and, in what it represents at least, Psychonauts. In fact it’s here that The Unfinished Swan best unifies the arthouse trifecta of atmosphere, emotion and play; ironically enough it’s also the section with the least affinity for paint.

Ian Dallas, writer and director of the game, has described it as a “first-person painter game”. It is, for 15 minutes. Beyond that, it’s a combination of interesting approaches, mishmashed half-thoughts and rather striking art. The initial vision is clearly that of one person, but it feels like at some point confidence was lost in the main mechanic, after which design-by-committee awkwardly wrestled a bunch of disparate concepts into a game.

Yet there is something about it – perhaps the unique sense of place, or the variety in aesthetic across a 3 hour playtime – that meant I came away fulfilled. It hasn’t the emotional resonance of Papo and Yo, the heart of Journey, or the mind-warping gameplay of Braid – but there are more than enough flashes of brilliance, and whilst not a cohesive whole it’s an enjoyable one nonetheless.

Also posted on my blog - codinghands.co.uk/blog
There have been no replies to this thread yet.
Thu 14/02/13 at 07:37:
Regular
"previously phuzzy."
Posts: 3,487
Sony’s admirable crusade to bring niche, unique or otherwise abstract oddities to the mainstream continues, with another title that likely wouldn’t have seen the light of day only a few years ago. The release of The Unfinished Swan helped wrap up an incredible year for gaming curios (and perhaps the first in which marketing spend somewhat matched creative ambition). An interesting gameplay gambit presented in an ambiguous trailer evoking images of a sparse, minimalist Wonderland, teasing with allegorical hints as the swooping camera gets closer to the eponymous bird, but never quite catches it. It was hard not to be intrigued.

Developed by Giant Sparrow, an offshoot from the USC Interactive Media program, The Unfinished Swan is based on the pleasing notion of ‘the world as a canvas’, with the player as painter, revealing the environment, its intricacies and inhabitants through artistic exploration. An exciting proposition - it’s easy to envisage the myriad possibilities – and, for a while, creativity abounds. The gradual unveiling of a forest from nothing is astonishing. Similarly, the views from the top of a tower as you finally see the wood for the trees looking down over your domain of half-colour half-void handiwork is breath-taking.

Unfortunately though, the game itself seems bewitched by its own magic, expanding the notion as far as it can, before promptly running out of steam. This becomes quickly apparent - even whilst revelling in the initial joy in exposing a hidden world, it’s hard to get lost in the atmosphere as you mash the shoulder buttons to shade in as much as possible, as quickly as possible – and I imagine the tedium threshold is likely much, much lower if you crazily opt to use the compatible PlayStation Move controller. Waggle waggle.

Evidently realising colouring in does not a full game make, Giant Sparrow added bolts, bells and whistles which try to hide the fact. Alas, as with countless other ponies and their singular tricks, they only serve in making it that much more prominent. Painting in the traditional sense is pretty much discarded early in the game, and in one stage makes absolutely no sense whatsoever. If it weren’t for an extremely pleasant ending scene, you’d have forgotten the fact you’d ever painted anything at all. Instead of thinking about how best to develop its one central idea, The Unfinished Swan simply moves on to the next.

That’s not to say the game doesn’t conjure moments of delight. Frequent flourishes add charm to a game which, on paper, should be full of it – but in actual finds itself sorely lacking. Without spoiling any; look out for a telescope which sees two worlds, and never ignore odd-shaped trellises. It’s just a shame that these couldn’t have been even more regular, and perhaps more tightly bound in the fable which The Unfinished Swan tirelessly tries to tell.

Interestingly, many of these moments are illustrated in the concept art which can be unlocked after collecting a certain number of ‘balloons’ (the obligatory trophy / replay value design concession). Whether this indicates that almost everything conceived for the game was included, or instead that the concept art viewable is simply a small selection, is not clear. However, it does seem indicative of the main problem with The Unfinished Swan – its core idea is too weak to stand alone.

This lack of direction is manifest in a number of ways. At one point you can take ‘damage’, which feels as out of place as it did in Flower (if slightly less ridiculous by virtue of the fact that a boy is much more likely to be hurt than a gust of wind). At others it feels like a mediocre 1st-person platformer. Even the yarn The Unfinished Swan tries to spin is shallow and confused – a story of an orphan yearning for his mother, awkwardly juxtaposed alongside the world of a dreaming king who has some truly remarkable procrastination issues.

Whilst the storytelling comes across as trite (with the narrator sounding like a bored dictation software voiceover) there’s something quite satisfying about the experience that’s difficult to define. The soundtrack is mesmerising, and creates atmosphere and tension where the story fails. The worlds themselves are almost all universally pretty, and on occasion things of staggering beauty.

Particularly striking is the contrast between environments which segue effortlessly into each other. The stark white kingdom slowly revealing its fantastical, Escheresque architecture for example, as well as between a dilapidated forest house and its physical manifestation in a strange ‘blueprint’ world that pays compliments to both Mirror’s Edge and, in what it represents at least, Psychonauts. In fact it’s here that The Unfinished Swan best unifies the arthouse trifecta of atmosphere, emotion and play; ironically enough it’s also the section with the least affinity for paint.

Ian Dallas, writer and director of the game, has described it as a “first-person painter game”. It is, for 15 minutes. Beyond that, it’s a combination of interesting approaches, mishmashed half-thoughts and rather striking art. The initial vision is clearly that of one person, but it feels like at some point confidence was lost in the main mechanic, after which design-by-committee awkwardly wrestled a bunch of disparate concepts into a game.

Yet there is something about it – perhaps the unique sense of place, or the variety in aesthetic across a 3 hour playtime – that meant I came away fulfilled. It hasn’t the emotional resonance of Papo and Yo, the heart of Journey, or the mind-warping gameplay of Braid – but there are more than enough flashes of brilliance, and whilst not a cohesive whole it’s an enjoyable one nonetheless.

Also posted on my blog - codinghands.co.uk/blog

Freeola is a UK internet service provider offering the best value and extensive free services. Please compare our domain name registration prices or check out our UK high speed internet access. If you are in business please see examples of our free hosting at Freeola.com/customer-sites.

Safe and Secure Payment

Livechat - loading