The Unfinished Swan

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The Unfinished Swan
The Unfinished Swan cover art.jpg
Developer(s)Santa Monica Studio
Giant Sparrow[a]
Director(s)Ian Dallas
Producer(s)Max Geiger
Designer(s)Benjamin Esposito, Mike Niederquell
Programmer(s)Joshua Sarfaty
Writer(s)Ian Dallas
Composer(s)Joel Corelitz
ReleasePlayStation 3
  • NA: October 23, 2012
  • PAL: October 24, 2012
  • JP: December 13, 2012
PlayStation 4, PlayStation Vita
Microsoft Windows, iOS
  • WW: September 10, 2020

The Unfinished Swan is an adventure video game developed by Santa Monica Studio and Giant Sparrow and published by Sony Computer Entertainment for the PlayStation 3 in October 2012. The game starts with a completely white space in which the player, a boy named Monroe (voiced by Nicholas Marj), is chasing after a swan that has escaped a painting, while simultaneously learning the story of a lonely king (voiced by Terry Gilliam). The PlayStation 4 and PlayStation Vita versions of the game, which was developed by Armature Studio, was released in October 2014.[5][6] The game was released on Microsoft Windows and iOS by Annapurna Interactive in September 2020.


Monroe is a young boy whose mother has recently died. She was a painter who is known to have never finished a painting, having created over 300 incomplete works. Monroe is told by his orphanage that he is only allowed to keep one of her paintings, so he chooses her favorite, a painting of a swan missing its neck.

One night, Monroe wakes up to find the swan has escaped its painting, and he chases it until he finds himself in a mysterious painted world. With the help of his mother's magical silver paintbrush, Monroe begins to explore the painted world as he chases the swan. He soon discovers the remains of a vast but deserted kingdom, where he learns that the kingdom was once ruled by the King, who used his powers to build the kingdom. However, due to a combination of his negligence and incompetence, all of the King's subjects became fed up with his rule and left the kingdom.

Monroe continues to pursue the swan to a distant island off of the coast. There, he learns that the King, wanting to leave behind some sort of legacy, decided to make a family, so he painted a woman to be his companion. The two quickly fell in love, and the woman became pregnant. However, she left without a trace, implying that the woman is in fact Monroe's mother, making him the King's son. Monroe continues to travel deeper into the island where he finds a massive, but incomplete, statue of the King. He further learns that the King, depressed at the departure of his wife, decided to build the statue to serve as his lasting legacy, but his powers began to fade until he fell into an eternal sleep. Monroe climbs his way to the top of the statue where he finds the King, who finally wakes up.

The King (voiced by Terry Gilliam) recounts to Monroe of a strange dream he had, and how he has come to accept that his works and the painted world will not last forever and will eventually fade away. The King then passes his silver paintbrush on to Monroe and confirms Monroe is his son before sending him back to the real world. That night, Monroe decides to finish his mother's painting, giving the swan its missing neck and adding a pair of baby swans.


Development of The Unfinished Swan began in February 2008,[7] using the Microsoft XNA toolkit[8] which took about 2 months to complete.[7] Later in the year the prototype was expanded and submitted to the Independent Games Festival where it was part of the student finalists,[9] but ultimately losing against Tag: The Power of Paint in its category.

The 2008 tech demo presented a "cold and desolate" atmosphere, using songs released by Moby under a non-commercial license. However, within the same year, the development team had settled on the concept of an "interactive children's book."[10]

After its showing at the IGF, Sony and Giant Sparrow signed an "incubation deal", which provides funding, office space, equipment and advice in the form of help from Santa Monica Studio.[11]

The game was initially released for the PlayStation 3. It was released on Microsoft Windows and iOS on September 10, 2020.[12]


The score to The Unfinished Swan, composed by Joel Corelitz, mixes electronic music with a string orchestra and string quartet. The orchestra and string quartet were recorded in Nashville at Ocean Way Studios by the Nashville Music Scoring orchestra. The music often provides hints to the player by changing in style as the player makes progress through the puzzles.


The Unfinished Swan received "generally favorable" reviews, according to review aggregator website Metacritic.[13]

The game won two BAFTA awards in 2013, one for Game Innovation and one for Debut Game.[26]


  1. ^ Aaron Kaufman (October 23, 2014). "The Unfinished Swan Lands on PS4, PS Vita Oct. 28th". PlayStation Blog. Retrieved October 23, 2014.
  2. ^ 2014-10-14, The Unfinished Swan dated for PS4, PS Vita in Japan, Gematsu
  3. ^ Aaron Kaufman (October 23, 2014). "The Unfinished Swan graces PS4 & PS Vita next week". PlayStation Blog. Retrieved October 23, 2014.
  4. ^ "Jobs at Giant Sparrow". Retrieved June 15, 2011.
  5. ^ "Until Dawn, The Unfinished Swan, and Journey Confirmed for PS4". July 25, 2014. Retrieved July 25, 2014.
  6. ^ "Journey and the Unfinished Swan coming to PS4". Gematsu. August 12, 2014.
  7. ^ a b Hage, Tim (January 7, 2009). "Q&A with Ian Dallas". TechOlive. Archived from the original on October 18, 2012. Retrieved June 15, 2011.
  8. ^ MAMerrific (March 11, 2009). "Indie Spotlight - The Unfinished Swan". GameSpot. Retrieved June 15, 2011.
  9. ^ "The 12th Annual Independent Games Festival - Student Showcase Finalists & Winners". Retrieved June 15, 2011.
  10. ^ Tannahill, Greg (September 29, 2008). "Ian Dallas on The Unfinished Swan". The Dust Forms Words. Retrieved February 1, 2015.
  11. ^ Dallas, Ian (May 1, 2011). "The Unfinished Swan is Coming to PSN". PlayStation Blog. Retrieved June 15, 2011.
  12. ^ Clayton, Natalie (September 10, 2020). "Eight years later, The Unfinished Swan finally lands on PC". Rock Paper Shotgun. Retrieved September 10, 2020.
  13. ^ a b "The Unfinished Swan for PlayStation 3 Reviews". Metacritic. Retrieved July 25, 2013.
  14. ^ "The Unfinished Swan for PlayStation 4 Reviews". Metacritic. Retrieved September 14, 2020.
  15. ^ Sterling, Jim (October 15, 2012). "Review: The Unfinished Swan". Destructoid. Retrieved April 7, 2020.
  16. ^ "The Unfinished Swan Review". Edge. Archived from the original on October 19, 2012. Retrieved July 25, 2013.
  17. ^ "The Unfinished Swan Review". Eurogamer. October 15, 2012. Retrieved July 25, 2013.
  18. ^ "The Unfinished Swan Review". Game Informer. Retrieved July 25, 2013.
  19. ^ "The Unfinished Swan Review". GameSpot. Retrieved July 25, 2013.
  20. ^ "The Unfinished Swan review". GamesRadar. October 15, 2012. Retrieved April 29, 2015.
  21. ^ "The Unfinished Swan - Review". GameTrailers. October 16, 2012. Retrieved April 29, 2015.
  22. ^ "The Unfinished Swan Review". IGN. October 15, 2012. Retrieved July 25, 2013.
  23. ^ "The Unfinished Swan Review". Joystiq. Retrieved July 25, 2013.
  24. ^ "The Unfinished Swan Review". PlayStation Official Magazine. Retrieved July 25, 2013.
  25. ^ Madnani, Mikhail (September 14, 2020). "'The Unfinished Swan' Review – Definitely Worth Finishing". TouchArcade. Retrieved September 15, 2020.
  26. ^ "The Unfinished Swan wins two BAFTA awards". Retrieved July 25, 2013.

External links[edit]

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