By Greg Newbegin
The Sony booth was crazy; when I finally found the entrance, I was forced through a labyrinthine pathway until... I came to the end of a line. Not knowing what I was doing there, I did the only thing I could -- waited and watched what everyone else did. Soon I realised that the Sony booth wasn't a free-for-all. In fact, the line I was waiting in allowed me to choose the game I wanted to play, and from there, I waited in another line.
For all intents and purposes, I guess it worked. However, many of the big titles had HUGE lines by the time I got there (and this includes the virtual reality headsets that were available for certain games. So I went for something I really wanted to see - an upcoming PSN title called The Unfinished Swan.
The premise if fairly simple -- you play as a recently orphaned young boy who is sent to live elsewhere. He gets to choose one of his mother's paintings to take along with him, and the one he chooses is of an unfinished swan (naturally). However, when he arrives there, the swan has suddenly disappeared from the painting, and he is thrust into a fantasy world within the painting, in a search to track down... the titular swan.
However, none of that really prepares you for what to expect. Played in first person, the game starts with you in a completely white environment. All you can see is a small reticule at the centre of the screen. This took me aback, as I was waiting on further input - in fact, given that the room was entirely white, there was no feedback if I tried to move, so I thought the game was still loading.
That was when I pressed "X," and my character threw a black blob of ink, splattering the environment -- a wall in front of me. I was told that I had an unlimited supply of ink, so I threw like crazy, and not long after, I was staring at an almost entirely black environment -- not quite the recommended result. Turning around, I used a little more restraint, and found the game utterly enchanting.
There's not a great deal to it -- find your way through the level, follow the yellow swan prints that can be seen on the ground, and try to find The Unfinished Swan (at which point, the level ends, but you don't actually catch the swan). There are other objects in the world to mislead you, there is information that is unlocked, and there are balloons that can be tracked down for the completionists out there, but that's about all that there was for this particular level (the gentleman walking me through the level mentioned there was a greatt deal to find and explore within the levels).
I was advised there are 4 levels in the game, and each is split into multiple sections -- each level has its own theme, so you aren't slinging ink forever, which could conceivably get boring. A later level that has been shown in the past utilises water in place of ink, and wherever water is thrown, a plant will grown out of the environment.
It all sounds a bit simple, and for the most part it is, but if there's anything that really drew me to this game it was the sense of utter delight in exploration. The splatter effects are impressive, the level design is clever. The concept is sound, but the fantasy realm and the desire for discovery is really what made this shine for me.
I wait on this game with much enthusiasm.