Back in 2012, when indie startup Giant Sparrow released The Unfinished Swan, we were bowled over by it, awarding it a rare 10/10 in our review. Understandably, we were subsequently ecstatic when Sony announced earlier in the year that it was bringing the curious campaign to the PlayStation 4 alongside fellow digital download Journey.
Despite complaints from a vocal minority regarding the wealth of retreads and ports on Sony’s next-gen machine, we’d argue that the platform holder’s focused on re-releasing the very best PlayStation 3 titles so far; Flower, The Last of Us, and, now, The Unfinished Swan are all titles that console converts deserve to experience.
And this is a glorious update of an already exceptional escapade. Essentially a first-person shooter with much more imaginitive action, the game initially sees you tossing paint in order to ‘feel’ your way through a whitewash world, before extending into other ideas. While a simple concept, though, it did suffer from some performance hiccups on previous generation hardware.
Fortunately, the title now runs at a silky smooth 60 frames-per-second in 1080p, and, while it’s the same excellent game at heart, this does make a difference. The gameplay also appears to have been improved in places; the second section, for example, which finds you using water blobs to guide vines, is no longer awkward at all, doing exactly what you demand in all instances.
For those out of the loop, the touching tale at the heart of this adventure involves a young boy named Monroe, who travels through one of his deceased mother’s paintings to reach a mysterious fairy tale-esque world. The overall mood of the game – fuelled by its visuals and audio – is staggering, and you’ll leave the three to five hour adventure feeling somewhat uplifted.
We outlined many of the most magical moments in our PS3 review, and they remain just as effective here, plastering a permanent smile on our faces from start to finish. The game is simply successful in everything that it sets out to do; from the storybook pages that you uncover to the voice work of Terry Gilliam, it’s like submerging yourself into the warmest most fascinating place.
And if you’ve already purchased the game, then you have no reason to ignore this re-release, as it’s fully cross-buy compatible with the PS3 and Vita. That means that those of you that bought the resplendent release a couple of years ago will be able to return to this spruced up version absolutely free, which is excellent in itself.
The Unfinished Swan was one of the best games of the previous generation, so it’s a real treat to be able to experience it on new hardware. While the title was already great to begin with, this re-release smoothes out the minor framerate hiccups and gameplay bugs present in the original product – and looks better to boot. With the addition of cross-buy compatibility, this offers the perfect excuse to revisit one of the finest downloadable titles in Sony’s portfolio.