I was never fond of digital games. The idea of having the game in my physical possession with the others in my collection always seemed like the superior method when purchasing games. Having had previous misfortunes with online purchases of games through my Nintendo 3DS, which in-turn meant replacing my entire online library, my hesitation always surrounded the effort to press the purchase button on the PlayStation Network.
However, one game intrigued me last year. There was something about the gorgeous story book world Unfinished Swan had presented in demos leading up to its release that made me watch intently. These demos never gave a good deal of information, but I knew there was something there, something deeper that would provide an experience I couldn’t ignore. So without the usual hesitation, my mind was made: Unfinished Swan was worth my time.
Unfinished Swan is a game that has resonated with me on a higher level than most titles over my gaming lifetime. Through videos and images, Unfinished Swan looks like a glorified painting gallery, but it’s so much more.
The deep and emotional narrative behind Unfinished Swan is one I truly found myself understanding. A small child loses his mother, losing that familiar bond many of us had as children. This bond not only helped us through tough times, but nudged us in the right direction in our lives. Though I have never dealt with such a terrible event, I have lost my mother. Not physically, but mentally.
My mother suffers from a severe class of obsessive compulsive disorder coupled with multiple personalities and her short tempter. My childhood is not for the faint of heart, but every few years I meet my mum. She gleams through her issues and is there for me for the moment I need her. Before she is taken away, hiding behind her own insecurities, her own personal demons. Then she is gone.
So no, I haven’t dealt with my mum’s physical disappearance from this world, but watching your mother exist half-heartedly is something I wish on no other. The child within Unfinished Swan is dealing with a great loss, losing his mother while he is still just a child. This underlining plot is never thrown in your face, it is never used as a cheap ticket for those who experience the game. It is an underlining thread that weaves an endearing and delightful tale together.
Being able to relate to such an immense problem was only one facet of Unfinished Swan. Giant Sparrow found a way to connect with me on an emotional level. The sense of wonder when you throw the first paintball; the sense of panic when you traverse the dark river with no way to defend yourself; the sense of fear when the water is rising all around you towards the game’s conclusion.
Though the experience is considered short, it is an atmospheric journey that provided some of the most memorable moments in recent years with controller in-hand.
I always seem to move onto the next game, never settling inside a universe for too long. Being in this line of work never allows you to really sink your life into one particular experience. Yet, somehow I always find time to jump back into the world Giant Sparrow has crafted to experience that opening sense of wonder, mess around within the world or just to enjoy the emotional journey once more.
Unfinished Swan has connected with me in such important ways that it will always have a place in my heart. Not just for the experience Giant Sparrow provided, but for the amazing memory it provided me recently.
My mother walking in during one of my many gameplay sessions with Unfinished Swan and seeing her become intrigued by the world that has captivated me. For her to sit down and enjoy the sense of wonder as I throw that first paintball, allowing me to experience that sensational first playthrough once more.
These memories cannot be taken away. Unfinished Swan will truly be one of the games I will never forget for providing such a beautiful memory.