Platforms: PS4, PS3, PSVita
Content Areas: English, Art
Suggested Age: Middle School, High School
Warnings: Rated E 10+ (Mild fantasy spider violence…watch out!)
Play Length: 3-5 hours
Number of Players: 1
Difficulty Rating: Easy/Moderate
With an imaginative gameplay experience that douses a seemingly monochromatic world with paint and water, The Unfinished Swan is one of those unique games that much like a work of art continues to develop with each broad stroke of the brush. While the games itself is short lived, the story that unfolds is one that remains fixed in the player’s mind long after the game’s ending. And with a few collectables and level-up features, The Unfinished Swan keeps players involved in the painting fun.
Surprisingly what The Unfinished Swan seems to be lacking in it’s seemingly vast, unfinished world is the ability to explore. While the game does present an open world experience for the player to paint and create, once the canvas is full the game is, for the most part, linear. Balloons have been hung inconspicuously around the world as an incentive for players to explore, and collecting those balloons allows the player to level up with different abilities, but these balloons are few and far between. Dropping more collectables into the world would have opened up the world for the player to explore more fully. However, this lack of exploration doesn’t necessarily detract from the story the game is attempting to tell. The storybook pages that are discoverable around the world provide the player with stepping-stones to each new chapter of the game and provide enough incentive to keep painting through the game to reach the intriguing conclusion.
Though it may seem that The Unfinished Swan is ripe for art teachers to use to enhance their curriculum, the true educational strength of The Unfinished Swan lies in its storytelling and reliance on skills taught in English/Language Arts classrooms. Using Common Core standard *RL.8.3 (Analyze how particular lines of dialogue or incidents in a story or drama propel the action, reveal aspects of a character, or provoke a decision), ELA teachers will find opportunities for students to dissect the numerous storybook pages found within game and identify how certain lines of text in the story develop the central character and/or propel the player forward through the game. Moreover, using Common Core standard *W.8.3 (Write narratives to develop real or imagined experiences or events using effective technique, relevant descriptive details and well-structured event sequences), teachers will find infinite opportunities for students to craft their own narratives using each story page as a “story starter” or waiting until the end to rewrite the ending, or extend the ending using the revelations found within the game as the central theme.
The Unfinished Swan is, again, one of those unique games that provide the player with an experience not found in the majority of games on the market. With a touching story and imaginative gameplay, The Unfinished Swan is a short lived but memorable experience. With an accessible ESRB rating, teachers at all levels will find countless opportunities to use The Unfinished Swan in the classroom and students will find that their creativity will be pushed to the limits.
*Standards can be changed to match student grade levels
Educational Rating: 7/8
Classroom Friendly, Motivation, Concrete Learning (does not teach a specific skill), Additional Skills, Feedback, Difficulty, Accessibility, Extension
Overall Rating: 8/8
Immersion, Environment, Storyline, Replayability, Entertainment, Gameplay, Originality, User Control