Game: The Unfinished Swan
Publisher/Developer: Giant Sparrow/Santa Monica Studio
Genre: First-person puzzler
Describe This Game in Three Words: Beautiful beyond belief
Plot Synopsis: Monroe is a young boy recently orphaned. His mother left behind more than 300 paintings, not a single one finished. He took his favorite one with him to the orphanage, an unfinished picture of a swan. One night, he wakes up to find the swan gone, and follows its tracks into a magical world made of blank canvasses he must paint to proceed through.
Up Up: No title has ever made the case for video games as high art like The Unfinished Swan. It is the video game equivalent of Van Gogh's Starry Night, Steven Spielberg's Schindler's List or the Sisters of Mercy's Floodlands. If you don't play this game, you will forever wish you had.
Monroe wanders a completely white world, hurling balls of black paint to splatter definition on an otherwise invisible world. It's an amazing mechanic that forces a player to consider the world only in parts, filling in the amazing countrysides, gardens and castles by imagination. Along the way are handy, easily visible landmarks usually painted gold, as well as the swan's footprints. You will feel a little lost at first, but it's extremely simple to get the hang of.
As Monroe wanders through the land, a strange fairy story plays itself out. The kingdom belongs to an odd artistic king who was forever seeking to complete his masterpieces but was hampered by the citizens that sabotaged his bizarre decrees and unwavering artistic integrity. The journey itself is as compelling as the best children's book you have ever read.
What knocks The Unfinished Swan out of the park is the fact that it is a work of art that could only exist as a video game. You couldn't film this, compose it as music or describe it as prose. It's your exploration and experiences throughout the ever-changing landscape that are in and of themselves the emotional purpose of the game. This is existentialism through gaming, pure and simple.