Developer & Publisher: Monkey Tales Studio/IVIPRO
Released: January 29, 2021
Requirements: Operating System, Windows 7, SP1+ or later
Processor: Minimum, 3.0 Ghtz Dual Core CPU; Recommended, 3.5 Ghtz
Memory: Minimum, 2 MB RAM; Recommended 4 GB RAM
Graphics: Minimum, 4 GB VRAM (shader model 4.0); Recommended 6 GB VRAM
DirectX: Version 11
Storage: 7GB available space
Self described as a game about love, resistance and historical memory, A Painter’s Tale delivers about two hours of peaceful, poignant story telling.
There is a puzzle or two, and a task or three to complete, but it leans towards being a guided story. A good one at that. One about how things can be more than just possessions, and places more than somewhere we live, contributing to who we are.
Curon is/was a real village in the South Tyrol region of Italy, near to the borders with Austria and Switzerland. In 1950 it was flooded as part of building a hydro-electric dam, and rebuilt nearby. Most buildings were demolished before being submerged, although a Romanesque bell tower dating from the 1300’s protrudes from the lake to this day.
It is here we find Tommaso, a present day painter capturing the scene. He is drawn to the waters edge by a strange light, where he is dragged beneath the waters to awaken in the village prior to its destruction. Taken in by the locals, a kindly Ida in particular, the rest of the two hours sees Tommaso uncover the details of what occurred, and the impact it had on the villagers. He wants to help, but he also wants to get home, and the imminent lake could be the key.
This is less though about Tommaso and more about the tale of the town. The game has been developed as part of a project to utilise games to catalogue places and stories mapping Italy’s cultural heritage. (Google IVIPRO if you want to know more). The little town had been recreated from photos in the new town’s museum, and allowing for the voxelly nature of the graphics a rather faithful job has been done.
Art not surprisingly features, utilising actual drawings and oil paintings. You can view these as you “collect” them through your journal. Historical factoids about the village will also be stored there, and both these can be accessed in game or from the main menu. There aren’t a huge number, and you can ignore them if you want, but they do add both detail and context. The musing on the art can also be insightful.
While there are only a few, objectives are also kept here, should you need to review them.
The elephant in the room is the character modelling. They look like large Duplo beings, but with square heads and sharp voxelly edges. I got used to it, although when Tommaso came up close and almost pressed his face against my screen it was a tad disconcerting all over again.
Speaking of which, your view of the game world is a little all over the shop. You have no control over the camera, which will change its view point to suit itself. Mostly its fine, giving you a third person perspective from a distance that enables you to navigate appropriately, but not always. There was at least one occasion where the camera tended to spin around as I turned Tommaso, giddy being the least of my issues, and the top down close up perspective of Ida at the end game was gimmicky and unnecessary. As well, not only can Tommaso get really close and intimate, at other times he will run off into the distance, getting ever smaller and causing you to wander when the screen will change. He can also disappear out of screen altogether without triggering a change in the camera, all of which is manageable but just be aware.
Edges of some buildings are also not sacrosanct, and at one point Tommaso scampered up a tree. But it remained a charming tale.
A Painter’s Tale plays exclusively with the keyboard (throw that pesky mouse away!) and autosaves as you go. Watch for the little SD card image top left. I would have liked it to have saved a little more regularly, but it wasn’t a big deal having to play some short segments again if I exited before a save point. There is no spoken words, dialogue being displayed in a ribbon at the bottom of the screen and advanced with the Enter key. Shift to run and WASD to move Tommaso (and Ida in the end game) around. Some musical pieces accompany things.
I did enjoy my time with Tommaso and his tale, and the broader project is a worthy one.
I played on:
OS: Windows 10, 64 Bit
Processor: Intel i7-9700K 3.7GHz
RAM: Corsair Dominator Platinum RGB DDR4 32GB
Video card: AMD Radeon RX 580 8192MB