The Unfinished Swan Review – Splats Look Even Better (PS4)

The Unfinished Swan was one of several wonderful PlayStation 3 exclusives that made the console stand out as a home to unique titles available through downloadable means. This artistic experience fit in with JourneyFlowerrain and more.

Sony’s elected to give it a 1080p makeover for the PlayStation 4 and a place to play on the go with the PS Vita. I played the original when it launched on the PS3 in 2012, and now I’ve played both the PlayStation 4 and PS Vita versions to completion over the course of the last few days.

A Port of a Great Game

Let this review, then, serve as a complement to the work by Daniel Bischoff that ran when the original game launched. This is still the same enchanting experience that carries one orphaned boy through a kingdom as a he slowly finds himself and his place in the world.

You’ll walk about in the first person space, oftentimes without any direction at all as the world is entirely blanketed in white or black. You’ll use the triggers to toss balls of paint or water in order to illuminate your path, spread the growth of fines or push a light source in the dark.

This is a rather small and unchallenging romp. The Unfinished Swan is built with multiple playthroughs and collection in mind. The whole thing will take you roughly two and a half hours to complete, and the word is littered with balloons that will slowly unlock toys for ruther play inside the story’s chapters.

As beautiful as this game’s story, mechanics, music and setting are, that over reliance on collectibles to push players to return is still a minor problem. Unlike Journey where there’s unique multiplayer and an addictive mode of play, only completionists will really want to visit the world of The Unfinished Swan more than once.

Simple Re-Creation

For these two ports, though, Giant Sparrow and Sony Santa Monica have pretty much simply done the work of re-creation. The game plays in a higher resolution on the PS4 (1080p instead of 720p) and it feels fine and dandy on the PS Vita. There’s no forced use of the touchscreen or rear pad for the Vita version, and the game only really feels cramped towards the end (the section with the river, if you’re familiar).

The two ports work just fine, and the only real complaint I have with them is the lack of cross-save. Yes, The Unfinished Swan is an exceptionally short game. If you’re only looking to complete it once, the Cross-Save feature wouldn’t really help. But, if you’re trying to track down every single balloon in the game (something the developers obviously hope you do), you won’t have the luxury of picking up your progress on the PS Vita when it’s time to leave the house.

Yes to Cross-Buy, No to Cross-Save

I love the Cross-Buy feature for Sony’s products. I just believe that every single Cross-Buy game should offer Cross-Save functionality. It’s a matter of convenience, and it lets gamers in the Sony family play their titles without break at home and on the go.

If you already own The Unfinished Swan on the PlayStation 3, you’ve got the game for free on the PS Vita and PS4. If you really enjoyed the experience the first time around, I’ve found that the full two years since release has been plenty of time to make the experience interesting again.

If you’ve never played The Unfinished Swan, you now have the chance to pick up one of the PlayStation 3’s best downloadable titles on both the PS4 and PS Vita. It truly is a gem of a game, complete with a unique set of mechanics and a world that slides from odd to entrancing and slightly terrifying throughout the course of its story.

This is a contemporary classic for PlayStation, and I’m glad to see it on more platforms.

Review copy provided by publisher. For information on scoring, please read our Review Policy here.

8.5Silver Trohpy
  • A contemporary classic updated for portable and new gen needs
  • Cross-Buy
  • Simple premise with a beautiful set of mechanics
  • Built for multiple playthroughs
  • No Cross-Save
  • Too much reliance on collectibles to push players to revisit