I happened to walk by a stand for The Unfinished Swan at Sony’s preview space at E3…and then walked away about an hour later. It’s safe to say I was completely engrossed by Giant Sparrow’s new downloadable title.
Playing as an orphaned child named Monroe, you come across a series of your mother’s old unfinished paintings. Inspecting one in close detail, you find a swan that suddenly comes to life. You’re tasked to track it down through a crazy world ruled by an eccentric King.
The game is all about exploration, plus “all the elaborate things the King character has built in his lifetime through his various phases,” said the game’s producer, Max Geiger.
As you can see in the video below, the first of the King’s phases must have been inspired by Salvadore Dali.
The first level is “The White Garden,” and you won’t be able to see a thing until your black paint shows you the landscape that’s hidden in plain view.
In the White Garden, you’ll occasionally come across the swan itself — just out of reach — or, golden tracks made by bird feet, or Kings’ crowns. Geiger says those elements are meant to give you a bit of direction without leading you linearly along the way. The feet lead you to a chicken instead of your swan, and the crowns really just help to shed some light on the history of the King.
In the second level, you’re charged with throwing water to encourage vine growth to access new areas of the world. Each level will have its own unique set of tasks, says Geiger, so you won’t feel bogged down by repetition.
The game is a great example, like Journey before it, that a game doesn’t have to be complex to be highly enjoyable. I have a feeling I’ll be spending hours just exploring without any real sense of direction. In the White Garden, for instance, it’s great to find a high vantage point and just look back at the black-splattered path you’ve painted to move through the area.
Look for The Unfinished Swan as a downloadable title on the PlayStation Network sometime in late 2012.