The Unfinished Swan is an excellent example of a game as art. I was placed, in first-person view, in the world of a painting. The catch was that this painting lacked…paint. It was completely white. Armed only with the abilities to walk, jump, and throw balls of black paint, I was to simply find my way around. And it was amazing.
Seeing the paint splatter all over whatever it hit and seeing a world take shape led to discovery and therefore, the ability to proceed. Figuring out just where to throw the paint and how to get from Point A to Point B was pure, unfiltered joy. I’m having trouble describing just what kind of entertainment this was. I’d never played a game quite like it.
The objective was to follow a swan through this magical world. At times, some golden swan tracks were visible in the all-white distance. Throw some paint here, throw some paint there — how do I get out there, exactly? Finding out wasn’t necessarily difficult, but not like taking candy from a baby, either. I could tell the potential was high, even just from this short demo, and I imagine (as well as hope) that later portions of the game see the challenge escalate.
While the area I played in was black and white, it was still gorgeous. You don’t need a color palette comparable to Hatsune Miku in order to achieve graphical success, and The Unfinished Swan proves it. Art is more than just visuals, it’s conveying a feeling. What I felt during my time with The Unfinished Swan was similar only to other games that could be considered art (Shadow of the Colossus, ICO, Journey, a few others).
I say this, and then, of course, the trailer shows the possibility of more colors coming into play, presumably later in the game. How it will all work remains a mystery, but it’s one I can’t wait to solve.
The Unfinished Swan does not yet have a release date.