Unfinished Swan: Chill Game or Something More?

My wife came across a little nugget this past week while browsing mindlessly on the PlayStation Network (PSN).  When she first described it to me I was mildly interested at best, when she showed me the gameplay I became more intrigued, but what really hooked me was the story that led to the events.

In the spirit of keeping spoilers to a minimum I will try to keep elements of the game and story out of this post but there are a few things I would like to go over with you.

Gameplay Mechanics
If you constantly look for games that are difficult this game is not for you.  As a very casual player, however, this was right up my alley.  From the beginning the game immerses you in the world.  You are not given any true tutorial level, but the movements required in the game are simple, minimal, and beautifully executed.

The first level you find yourself in is completely white and the only way to see where you are going or what is in your vicinity is to throw black paint at it.  The game developers ability to create a 3D environment like this left me incredibly impressed.  As you progress the levels get gradually more and more complicated but never so much that you can’t figure out what to do next.

Not once did I have a camera issue as all of the story is presented in first person.  Overall in gameplay it is definitely refreshing to have something done so beautifully simplistic.

Story
The story is the more interesting aspect to me.  The story follows Monroe, a boy who has lost both parents.  His dad is alive but hasn’t been around and his mother has just died.  As he is getting sent to an orphanage he is able to bring one item with him in which he chooses a painting of his mother, and unfinished swan (his mom is notorious for not finishing any of her paintings).  This swan later jumps out of the painting and Monroe chases, which is the start of his adventure through this unpainted land.

Monroe’s journey isn’t exactly a safe one, and there are times when I found my heart racing especially in a very dark forest with potentially dangerous spiders.  To say that the story is dynamic and well thought out would be a fair statement.

Beyond that though, I feel that this story goes deeper than just a boy painting a blank world.  As I progressed further into the game I began to find themes that made me feel this was a matter of Monroe’s process of handling life after the loss of his mother.  Not so much the grief, but the struggles, the exploration of trial and error, and even the search for his estranged father (being as vague as possible here).

But the true beauty of it all is that my process of understanding the story may be different from your view and they would both be equally valid.  Which points to how well the story is told in my opinion.

It’s definitely a great game and I recommend it to anyone willing to try.

What story have you encountered lately that seemed to have more than one layer to it?  Let me know below.

Until next week, keep your mind open and your pencil’s sharp.

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