In our Special Edition celebrating the top best games from our current gen console (before we move into a next gen series), we gave you two of the most rated games of our generation, The Uncharted Trilogy and Red Dead Redemption. In this edition of Killer Games for PS3, we turn our heads away from the general horde, a little further away from blood and gore, to give you a masterpiece from an independent game developer company fostered by Santa Monica Studio, Sony Computer Entertainment – Giant Sparrow. No points for guessing, in Killer Games for PS3 we bring to you Monroe and The Unfinished Swan.
To be very honest, I’m not an ardent indie game lover. Because our country is very minutely exposed to indie games, but thanks to the internet and gaming events, I do get my daily news about everything that is around. After a prototype was released as early as 2008, The Unfinished Swan was conceived to be a no brainer, paint splattering game that will perhaps set boundaries of being a completely independent and innovative game. But that is what every gaming page would tell you, I’m here to tell you why I fell in love with The Unfinished Swan and why it is one of the righteous reasons to still get a PS3. If you consider the market value of the game (just under 20 Dollars) and the limited amount of gameplay, you’d perhaps say that it’s better to save the cash for an upcoming game, right? But sometimes you need to spend that much, sometimes you need to experience what you haven’t so far, and in that ways, you certainly etch a different stroke in your long history of video gaming. The Unfinished Swan was that moment.
While the minimalistic artistry of Journey‘s third person view makes it a treat for your emotions, The Unfinished Swan’s first person view makes it a complete game of perception. Journey doesn’t have any game trivia or dialogues, as most of them become your mind’s creations. In TUS, your first person view becomes the tool for discovering things as well as the story as you go deeper into the game. Your heart plays a lesser role as compared to your eyes in TUS because the world is a plain canvas and it will need more than it meets the eye to know how to traverse.
“Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?”
“That depends a good deal on where you want to get to.”
“I don’t much care where –”
“Then it doesn’t matter which way you go.”
-Alice in Wonderland
While playing The Unfinished Swan, I felt the game’s strangest connection to Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland.When you begin TUS, you feel like you’re being led into a child’s dreams, especially with the colourful visual treat and Joel Corelitz’s soundtrack, that uses orchestra and string quartet. Once you go deeper into the storyline, you will realise that the subtle story is trying to tell you a tale within a tale. The Unfinished Swan is a journey through a child’s dream, Monroe, an orphan boy who is seen chasing one of his mother’s precious paintings The Unfinished Swan. A swan will come like the White Rabbit that Alice met inside the burrow, leading Monroe across landscapes and buildings. To an even stranger destination. Momets afterwards, there is a reference to a lazy giant who got tired of serving the citizens of the Kingdom, and I automatically exclaimed – Gulliver’s Travels! Another crazy fiction that brims so much of black homour and the portrayal of the society. When you enter the forest in TUS, you will be chased by these creatures, with big red eyes and no shape of the body, any one getting a hint of the cat from Alice in Wonderland?! Perhaps the developers are crazy book lovers themselves.
The Unfinished Swan makes use of breathtaking first person view and incoporates it with the storyline and the theme of a child’s dream. As Monroe, you are supposed to chase a swan that is showing you routes and trying to escape from you as you draw near, You find your way through watchtowers, scaffoldings, castles, forests and much more to get to it. This land is depicted to be the one once ruled by a mad artist King. His sense of utopia obliged everyone to keep it neat and avoid anything that can cause waste in his lands, including urinating. He was in love with the perfection of the colour white, and he therefore sprinkled each yard with the same tint, making it an utterly confusing state for anyone to live. On meeting with the public opinion, he was forced to use some shadows for their sake. He may not be a dictator like the Queen of Hearts, but he was as crazy as the word can mean to be. The King was as obsessed with labyrinths as he was with the colour white, in short, he was the master of confusion. As Monroe, you will need some decent thinking skills and strategy to make way through these elements of confusion.
The gameplay is sheer bliss, as you can take the game completely at your own pace, find and discover maps by throwing bubbles of paint around.You will make use of objects by pushing them over terraces or simply shooting bubbles at them. You will be perplexed at times with the dreamy maps of the game, and of course there will be instances of deja vu in some scenes. You will walk past a room into another one, and you will see that the rooms are replicating, and you need to figure out a way out of it. The claustrophobia will seep in. The game makes your brain tick in the best way possible, making you create blueprint boxes in order to jump across an elevation, directing a cluster of friendly weed vine to your assistance and much more. In a completely dark forest, where strange creatures will try to harm you unless you stay in the light, you will need to move ahead by rolling a giant ball of light. For an indie game, these are some insane moments that will live alongside big titles.
The drive of the game is not to wrap it up as quick as possible and let you move on to something else. The game’s drive is based on your perception and your ability to find easter eggs, like balloons, story pages and strange statues. Just like you release rags to increase your capacity in Journey, in The Unfinished Swan, you will need to release balloons from each level in order to unlock huge perks at the end of the game. Not to forget, sometimes these balloons are pretty hard to fiind and even harder to reach. There are telescopes in some levels, using which you can get a glimpse of stuff that will come later in the game. In the labyrinth facing the King’s statue, there is a pipeline, but when you guide your weed vine to it, you see it explode like a rocket. Such are some of the crazy instances of item hunting in The Unfinished Swan. Building traversing or climbing can become stressful if you do not keep your eyes synced with your brain.
Coming back to the story bit, for a second you may simply believe this to be a fairytale. But just like Carroll blows you away with the black humour of Alice In Wonderland, Big Sparrow will also let you blow yourself away. Here’s why. Spoilers beware! When you finally travel across the country and meet the mad King in his workshop, he hands you a silver paintbrush and tells you that he was never capable to have such a worthy item, and only a true son can hold it. The King’s (painted to life) wife was also said to have ran off with a certain painting of his, The Unfinished Swan. The King keeps on dreaming of this boy, Monroe, at his funeral. If I read their lips well, I’d say the child with his imaginitive mind has beautifully crafted this wild story of how his crazy father dumped his mother, who ran away with the unborn and eventually died. This is the child’s recurring thoughts of his absent father and his only way to get away from the orphan life that he was forced into.
The Unfinished Swan is a cracker of a game if you are an artist at heart. Feel free to sprinkle colours, open hose pipes, and jump into blueprint canvases in this never-seen-before video game. Big Sparrow certainly deserves an applause for mixing reality so well with a child’s imaginations, complemented by some excellent narration and voice acting by the child (especially when he’s jumping or getting hurt) Let’s see what they do with the nex gen.
I concluded The Unfinished Swan with a cup of coffee in my hand, raindrops outside my window, and my music player calmly playing Into Dust by Mazzy Star.