Looks like Iím the only one who gave this one a shot. A few thoughts.
In short: The Unfinished Swan is an absolutely wonderful game that everyone should play.
In long: Iíve said this before, but I find that there are certain games that are so unique, so fresh, and so interesting that they serve as ďrechargersĒ for my increasingly cynical gaming heart. Thereís so much cookie-cutter crap out there that we forget that games can be truly creative and stimulating. Unfinished Swan is such a game.
After a brief story setup involving a young boy who is recently orphaned and finds some of his late motherís unfinished paintings, the game drops you to a completely white screen and a target reticule. No instructions, no HUD, nada. The trigger buttons throw paint balls and X jumps, those are the extent of the controls. By throwing paint and watching how it splatters, you are able to discern details about the room youíre in. Pretty soon, youíre moving through a beautifully realized world of light and shadow, created only through your use of the one tool at your disposal. As the game progresses, it becomes more and more complex, with the ability to throw water balls that grow vines, a hose that shoots a steady stream of balls over a great distance, balls that trigger doors and bridges, and other obstacles. Youíll see the odd splash of color that indicates you may want to go, but otherwise you figure it all out on your own. The puzzles arenít terribly challenging, but are always interesting and fun to figure out.
Artistically, the game is incredible. The use of black/white contrast through the splattering of paint may sounds boring, but ends up stunningly beautiful in practice. The world gains more detail the further you go, but is still breathtaking despite its simplicity. The blocky feel is reminiscent of Katamari Damacy, but on a very minimalist level. Youíll occasionally come across floating letters which, when hit with a paint or water ball, open up short but beautifully written story segments. There are plenty of hidden objects such as toys or balloons, the latter of which serves as currency to buy various abilities. None of these are required to finish the game, but provide some unique and useful skills.
The biggest complaint for Unfinished Swan will likely be the length. It can be beaten in only a couple hours (it took me around 3), and unless youíre hell bent on finding all the collectables, there isnít a ton of replay value. That said, I have absolutely no regrets dropping $15 for the experience. Itís a wonderful example of how supremely creative developers can use this medium in new and fun ways to tell a wonderful, feel-good story. Itís a great game for kids (my 3-year-old loved watching me play), and is one that brought a smile to my face the entire time I was playing. If you enjoy unique, artistic, almost childlike fun, then be sure to give this one a look. Itís an A+ in my book, and a very strong contender for my personal GOTY.