Passpartout: The Starving Artist is a fun little indie game which released on 6th of June 2017. When I first saw the game I was pleasantly surprised, because this is such a neat and interesting idea for an indie game. The concept is that you help Passpartout, a wannabe painter, in making “beautiful” art pieces. When I say help, I mean you are doing all the work and when I say “beautiful”, the art you are doing is as good as your talent.
Right from the beginning of the game, you are thrown into this back alley somewhere in Paris, where Passpartout lives and makes his living out of a garage. Here you see his low quality living conditions and his easel, and a couple of tables outside of the garage on which you are going to present your creations to the world, followed by a single cash register at the edge of a table. The only things you can interact with is the easel, where you will start drawing your “trés magnifique” paintings, the cash register where you can see the weekly payments and how much Passpartout spends on baguettes, wine, and rent, and the paintings that you already done in order to throw them in the bin or rename them.
Your goal, so to say, it’s to get noticed and raise in the art world while also surviving on a weekly basis. You will have to get as creative as you can be and start showing that to the world by, obviously, making paintings and selling them. The better your paintings, the more they’re going to sell for, but thankfully, or sadly, it isn’t so simple. Everyone who is going around your paintings, which on a side note that’s all they do, belong to a certain audience like hipsters. This specific audience has their own specific likes and dislikes. You are not getting any prompts on what someone might like or not, you have to guess that on your own by judging their fashion taste and by what they say when they critique your work.
Some people who have a pink Mohawk enjoy paintings with more “passion”, whatever that is, while this old man with a coffee seems to enjoy stuff that, from my experience, classify as scenery. Thus, it’s not that easy to satisfy Passpartout’s baguette addiction, and if you are not good enough or fast enough you will go broke. When you are doing consistent work for a bit of time, a critic will come by and make a press release about you. This allowed me to move from my shady alley to a little store, and all I did is make some colored squares and link them together, but as long as he said that it looked fantastic I am not complaining.
The feeling of progression is there, but lacking, in a way. The only things that seem to change are the location in which you are painting, which changes from one act to another, and the different tools that you are getting over the course of time. The drawing mechanic is solid. You are granted with a bunch of colors, different tools, and their adjustable size.
You start with the regular brush, get a spray can, receive a fountain pen and more tools which allow you to make your art seem fancier than it is. In the core though, it looks very much like the basic MS Paint, which allow the untalented of us to do 1st grade stickman sketches, but are enough for someone with some talent to get some really cute looking drawings done. The paintings that the game developers show off look really good in comparison to my strawberry which looks like a deformed tomato.
What seemed really odd is that once you are getting a lot of money, you can’t buy the tools, you just get them out of the blue. My strawberries and “abstract” paintings fetched me a bunch of extra money in Act 1 which I couldn’t really use, but when I got into Act 2, that extra money sure came in handy because the rent grew a lot and some new customers started to be very picky.
The lack of an eraser also seemed odd. If you know what you are doing you can just correct the mistake by adding paint over it, but sometimes this “technique” only made it worse. The limited variety of people who are going around is also kind of weird. There are only a couple of persons per audience group and their response is rather limited, and they will often repeat themselves.
To conclude, Passpartout: The Starving Artist is indeed a very cute and interesting game and you can get a lot of fun out of it. Being able to satisfy your creative need by doing some drawings which look like a 3 year old has made them is a pleasant experience nonetheless. If you enjoy painting or do it for a living and want to take it slow and get some fun out of it, you can certainly do that in Passpartout – there is likely no better game for it.
Passpartout: The Starving Artist is very fun and quirky. It’s a great casual game and a fantastic time waster which makes your childhood drawing come to life. But, it is somewhat repetitive and to experience the game properly, sadly you need at least some drawing talent.