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Weekend Reviews Part 2

09 Sep

I used to love the old eight bit computers, with the bedroom coders, free of any strictures of company rules and management using their full creative talent to enrich the industry.  Lost to the gaming world for a while these inventive times of experimentation and the making of imaginative games are coming back most notably in the mobile phone gaming world as well as in the form of games like the refreshing The Unfinished Swan an indie game for the PS3, PS4 and PS Vita, that manages to delight and surprise in equal measure and is so far removed from the usual stuff that it puts your faith back in not only gaming but imagination.

It’s very rare that a game moves me enough to write about it but I was watching my friend play this at the National Gaming Museum (more of which in a later post) on a big TV with brilliant surround sound and it was the best thing I have seen in games in years, relaxing, fascinating and gentle.  Returning back to Tom’s house we immediately got a copy and proceeded to play it through like the dedicated people that we are.

The story is like an interactive bed time story, a boy’s mother dies and leaves lots of unfinished paintings because she hated to finish anything, the boy, Monroe is allowed to keep one,  he chooses The Unfinished Swan.  One night he wakes up and the bird has disappeared out of the painting but there is an open door which he hasn’t noticed before…

The screen fades to white and being impatient the first thing we did was press buttons – because that always helps the game load quicker – but you are already in the game.   As seen in the above trailer, paint bombs are thrown to reveal the hidden world around you.  It’s that surprising inventiveness that grabs you and ignites that child like feeling of being able to explore the magical unknown which is as addictive as it ever was.

Pushing the game along is the sheer imagination behind it, despite being a very linear game, the solitude in this new artistic creation gives focus and far from making it feel empty makes it feel more mysterious and beautiful.  The sheer pleasure of experiencing something unknown, a game with heart, is played with a joy and curiosity that is immensely pleasurable.

To begin with the game seems small in scope and lacks in colour but then opens out and feels much more epic, colourful and more original, especially with those little crescendos of wonderful music, as a big reveal sneaks up on you and the normally sedate and perfectly pitched score rises and gives you that anticipation for what could appear around the next corner.  The unexpected never fails to make an appearance and this keeps the game fresh and gives it that just five more minutes factor.

All good stories have a quest and chasing the titular swan just seems to make sense and is compulsive, the joy of working out a puzzle and seeing something new is the perfect reward.  The world is in part created by the players interactions and so the creative processes are explored as you go further through the game and finding the story inverting, which makes a replay worthwhile just to appreciate what you are doing at any given time so much more.  Whether exploring a vast city or a fortress island there is always scope for the player to insert their own stories.

The game is sadly quite short, we completed it in a couple of hours and the replay value is not huge, there are collectibles and to realise how what you are doing is affecting future things is fun.  When the only real criticism of a game is the lack of longevity and perhaps the lack of challenge then it bodes well.  To balance that though the game has a book in it, it’s perfect happy escapism and has a cameo by Terry Gilliam so what is not to like?

By the end of the game I was ecstatic to have experienced it and was certainly left wanting more and highlighted the problem with an industry geared towards churning out games at the expense of thought and imagination, there’s no pressure, just go wander and be happy in this new world, with simple controls move, jump and chuck a paint/water bomb.  I don’t usually have time for games but if you have the relevant consoles it’s worth a punt and if you not then you can watch plenty of walkthroughs on YouTube.

To put my fairness hat on – which is pointy and has a quizzical face patched on, in case you were interested – there is one mild misstep in the game and that is the central theme, on a basic level its fine but there is so much more that could have been done to layer it.  The symbolism is there in its minimalist way but something feels slightly lacking overall.  Perhaps that is my endless need to analyse which makes that a slight issue for me, at the end of the day its a nice arty game and if you don’t think too much and enjoy the journey while it lasts you will find an enticing adventure.

UnfinishedSwannage

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36 Comments

Posted by on 09/09/2015 in Gaming

 

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36 responses to “Weekend Reviews Part 2

  1. shadowoperator

    09/09/2015 at 20:45

    I know you’ll find this hard to believe, but I’ve never used a Playstation. My nephew just found a game he had been looking for on his old Playstation 3 set, and that’s about the extent of my knowledge (and he isn’t allowed to play it at my brother’s house, but only at my sister-in-law’s, where I’ve never been and am unlikely to be, so I suppose my education will have to wait for another generation of games, something my brother approves of.

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    • Ste J

      09/09/2015 at 21:04

      I miss arcades, they were great. There are always the flash games online to have a go at, there is a good one I enjoy called six Differences, it’s a simple spot the difference game but with a great chilled soundtrack and it’s pretty surreal in atmosphere… http://dagobah.net/flash/6_Differences.swf

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  2. Lyn

    09/09/2015 at 22:59

    I’ve never used a Playstation of any number. I’ve never had any interest in playing computer games…with one exception — Riven. It’s prequel, Myst was nowhere as good, but Riven sucked me in and I’d find myself playing until three o’clock in the morning. For a game that had it’s release in 1997, it’s pretty good. Either that, or I had no idea of what a good computer game was all about 😀
    Sadly, I loaned it to a friend a couple of years ago and never got it back.

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  3. gargoylebruce

    09/09/2015 at 23:03

    I love games like this. The fleshling’s psychiatrist suggested Monument Valley – that was a good one, worth the purchase price.

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    • Ste J

      11/09/2015 at 13:20

      I shall check it out, the video looks fantastic…peaceful and cerebral games are definitely the way forward.

      Liked by 1 person

       
  4. macjam47

    10/09/2015 at 02:43

    We have a Playstation for our grandchildren. They become glued to it, if you let them. I’ve never played it.

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    • Ste J

      11/09/2015 at 13:21

      There are some good games, I do like to dabble myself on occasion, luckily I have a good friend into games so he finds all the best ones for me to have a go at and do badly.

      Liked by 1 person

       
  5. vsvevg

    10/09/2015 at 17:52

    Another interesting post about something I know nothing about! I did just finish Ready Player One, though, so I have a bit more insight into what it means to love games. I doubt I will every have an opportunity to play Unfinished Swan, but if I do…:)

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    • Ste J

      11/09/2015 at 13:40

      I haven’t read it despite a couple of recommendations to do so…it seems there are many good games out there that just feel good, it’s great to celebrate the inventiveness of something and is a reminder that getting into new things can give great experiecnes we didn’t expect.

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  6. Jilanne Hoffmann

    10/09/2015 at 22:33

    Although this game sounds enjoyable, we don’t have a playstation or those kinds of things. And right now, my 11-yr-old son is into all things minecraft, something that is so addictive, it removes the desire to do much else. I’m trying to figure out how to handle this without seeming like an ogre. Give me a good pinball machine any day. 😀

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    • Ste J

      11/09/2015 at 13:31

      Minecraft is a good game, wandering in the depths of the world or building a massive castle with lava traps, I would spend days on it and then realise I needed to blog which is when I set it aside for a while but now you mention it…pinball machines or some of the classic coin-op games, I miss arcades they should bring them back!

      Liked by 1 person

       
  7. Resa

    11/09/2015 at 00:48

    Hmm, I’d like to try the game! You say a lot of positive things. You say it’s short.Perfect for someone in my position who likes to game, but doesn’t have a lot of time.
    Thanks for this review!

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    • Ste J

      11/09/2015 at 13:26

      It’s one of those games you can put down but you won’t want to because it is so well crafted, the shortness was only a negative’ for us because we did it all in one sitting like greedy people! I do think that because of its inventiveness, I would have wanted more from it because it made me appreciate games so much.

      Liked by 1 person

       
      • Resa

        11/09/2015 at 21:59

        I gamed tirelessly before I found street art. I used to love Res. Evil, and could play Veronica X in 4 hrs/20mins. straight through with no saves,,,, like greedy people!

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        • Ste J

          12/09/2015 at 20:33

          That is some hard core gaming, for me it was always Final Fantasy VII, so much in that game combining to make it amazing, the huge cast of characters, soundtrack and over three discs as well, it was amazing.

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          • Resa

            16/09/2015 at 20:35

            Huh, never did play that game, but knew many who did & they loved, loved it. It seems blogging has replaced gaming for me.

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            • Ste J

              18/09/2015 at 19:16

              Blogging is a lot like gaming, you write alone but interact with others as you wish and form friendships and experience adventures. Unlike gaming though the blogging universe is boundless. FF VII was a game to be loved, just thinking of it now makes me smile like a sentimental fool haha.

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  8. leapingtracks

    12/09/2015 at 17:19

    being the creator of digital games is one of my fantasy careers – I have such fond memories of chuckie egg on ?ZX81 or one of the early computers that we had at home (about 75 year ago perhaps?) – I wish I had been more curious about what went on inside the box at that stage and stuck with it. My nephew and niece love minecraft and it seems to be so incredibly creative, although I have not tried it myself. Meanwhile, I sometimes fiddle about with the odd game on my iPad but try not to get too involved because it takes too much time away from other hobbies otherwise (and there’s not enough book-reading time in the day as it is!).

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    • Ste J

      12/09/2015 at 21:04

      They can be addictive, I started playing a mobile game called New Soccer Star and intriguingly as my performances get worse, better teams keep coming in for me, I am now scaling the dizzy heights of League 2. it is amazing how versatile those old machines were and how it encouraged creative thinking to get the most out of the little it had to offer. who would have thought that in 35 odd years we could have come so far with what is still a young industry. Minecraft is great, I spent days on it, it did eat into my days way too much for sense.

      Liked by 1 person

       
      • leapingtracks

        12/09/2015 at 23:25

        You are so right about the amount of progress in a relatively short time – this has been so apparent while considering all the changes during The Queen’s reign, hasn’t it. I have dipped my toe into Clash of Clans because my husband plays it with my nephew and niece and it is a nightmare for calling to me when I really should be doing other things…..

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        • Ste J

          13/09/2015 at 19:09

          Since the Industrial Revolution things have been crazy, not that I’m that old! I have heard of that but fear the addiction so have left it, Football Manager was addictive for ages, I still need to play that again.

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          • leapingtracks

            13/09/2015 at 20:01

            You are wise to heed your fear if you value your sanity….

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  9. LuAnn

    13/09/2015 at 15:59

    I have never used a Playstation before Ste J so when I began reading this post, it almost read like a foreign language for me. 😉 That trailer was fascinating. I believe you have the skills to create some of these games.

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    • Ste J

      13/09/2015 at 19:02

      With books I am in my comfort zone but with games and films, etc I am well aware of how far out of my comfort zone I am so it although the challenge was beneficial to me, I will be sticking more to what I know in future with the odd forays when something deamands I make a point of it. I think I would be better at the concepts than the actual programming but if I could learn it I would have a go!

      Liked by 1 person

       
      • LuAnn

        14/09/2015 at 16:35

        I just picked up an easy read book here on the island by John Sandford. The main character does just that, develops the concepts and has a company do the actual programming, so maybe… 😉

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        • Ste J

          14/09/2015 at 21:04

          Well if its in a book then it must be achievable! Actually I think it could be if we had the time to try new stuff all the time but that’s a moan for another day.

          Liked by 1 person

           
          • LuAnn

            15/09/2015 at 15:11

            How is your job going?

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            • Ste J

              15/09/2015 at 18:27

              Well this current one is okay but I suspect I could have a more suitable supplementary job coming soon which will bring much joy and may even prompt me to smoke a cigar, just for the look of it you understand.

              Liked by 1 person

               
              • LuAnn

                16/09/2015 at 01:57

                If that happens I want to see the man with the cigar. Fingers crossed for you my friend.

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                • Ste J

                  16/09/2015 at 18:24

                  Thank you my friend, I am hoping this is all will go well.

                  Liked by 1 person

                   
  10. RoSy

    23/10/2015 at 20:20

    I’ve met PS. It lives in my house. The kids seem to get along well with it!

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    • Ste J

      23/10/2015 at 20:43

      Haha, it is the source of many a wasted hour, I instantly regret whenever I turn the thing off.

      Liked by 1 person

       
      • RoSy

        26/10/2015 at 00:32

        I used to question the time spent on it. But – then I realized – people could have worse habits. So- I’m ok with it.

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