PSN Preview – The Unfinished Swan

May 2, 2012Written by Daniel Bischoff

At an upscale hotel on Sunset Blvd, two unassuming devs started their demo of The Unfinished Swan, a game designed from the ground up to take advantage of the artistic ground-breaking thatgamecompany has done with titles like Flower and Journey via the PSN.

At the press of the button, a story book appeared on screen and eased the player into the game’s big hook. When you were a child, your mother kept a large portfolio of her paintings at home. When she died, your could only take one painting with you to the orphanage.

That was The Unfinished Swan, and now it’s missing from your room.

At first, players will be greeted by a completely white screen and no prompt for what they’re to do. The developers have found that players typically begin to make frantic inputs after a few seconds of staring at the screen. It’s perhaps this inauspicious beginning that kickstarts the player’s imagination, as they’ll quickly find that they can throw balls of black paint at their surrounding to reveal their environment.

Players discover that they’re in an unassuming square room, but the environment quickly becomes more natural, bringing players to a garden filled with statues and very little color. These brief splashes of primary colors help to direct the player so you don’t get completely lost.

Vantage points also show where you’ve come from and how you played. First-person shooter players have tested to be very liberal with their use of the black paint, while others have proven more reserved.

The way gamers paint their environments is certainly a memorable means of exploration. Having seen the tech demo of this as an indie project at GDC 2009, I asked about how the project has transformed in all that time. Creative Director Ian Dallas explained that they wanted to take the mechanic they had and wrap it in an appropriate setting to draw players in. Using a children’s story book setting provided that invitation to the imagination. Dallas was quick to point out that The Unfinished Swan is mature in the same sense that Journey is mature. Players take away from it what they want to, and with the gameplay’s unique twist, there are plenty of things to walk away with.

The Unfinished Swan is aiming for a PSN release in 2012. We’ll keep you tuned in to any more we see on the project at E3 and beyond.