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Game review – Passpartout: The Starving Artist’s take on modern art world is firmly tongue in cheek

Flamebait Games’ new ‘artist sim’ gives you the chance to sell random splatters of paint akin to those of top contemporary painters – just make sure you offload enough to be able to afford your wine, baguettes and rent

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 19 July, 2017, 8:01pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 19 July, 2017, 8:00pm

Passpartout: The Starving Artist

Flamebait Games

3.5 stars

Modern art is, perhaps understandably, ridiculed by many. Contemporary works are often criticised as lazy and overly ambiguous – splodges or splashes sold for ridiculous prices and lacking the resonance of say, the Renaissance or even the Cubist movement.

Anyone can be an artist, they say, it’s just how you market yourself, and that’s the tongue-in-cheek idea behind Passpartout: The Starving Artist (available for PC).

In this quirky 3D “artist sim”, you start out in your garage with an easel, a set of basic paints and a couple of canvases. Your goal is to create a masterpiece using a setup akin to MS Paint.

You can paint anything you like – within the limitations of your mouse’s abilities – and more often than not, your works will come out pretty basic. But what you think about them doesn’t matter – this is for the world to decide. Some pieces sell, most don’t, but you need cash to sustain your starving-artist lifestyle of wine, baguettes and rent.

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The more you sell, the better your tools get, and soon you’re equipped with finer brushes, spray cans, better canvases and an extensive artist’s setup. People start taking notice, they start buying more and more of your rudimentary creations, and one day, a critic comes along. He loves your minimalistic masterpieces, puts you on the front page of the papers and sets you up – where else? – in a hipster outdoor gallery, made entirely of bricks.

Things are going great, this art thing is really looking up, the world is your oyster. And then all of a sudden, it isn’t. Your enthusiasts turn on you; they don’t like this new direction your work is taking. You try to go back to your classic style, the basic simplicity that served you well initially, but they can smell a sell-out a mile away. Your art career is over, your finances dwindling. In desperation, you paint and paint, but nothing catches on. The game is over.

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That’s just one possible path in Passpartout, a cheeky little release that certainly isn’t made for fans of contemporary art. There’s not really much behind it, and the selling aspect is a bit random – but then again, one could say the same about the modern art world.