"The Master's Pup" Demo with the character walking up to a Claude Monet painting.

Gorgeous New Indie Puzzle, Adventure Game Traces Claude Monet’s Life—With Hand-Painted Drawings!

From the grim world of Disco Elysium to the delicate landscapes of Child of Light, many games take visual inspiration from hand-painted works and styles. Australian artist Pat Naoum took that love to a new level in developing his game, The Master’s Pupil. Here, Naoum hand-painted (as in on paper) nearly everything in the game. This includes the characters, scenes, and objects. Because of this, the game took Naoum about seven years to complete.

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@patnaoumgames On the internet, and in person, people don’t seem to understand hand-painted means painted with paint. Out 28 July! Wishlist link in the bio #TheMastersPupil #indiedev #indieGame #gamedev #gamedevelopment ♬ original sound – The Master’s Pupil – Pat Naoum

The 2D puzzle-adventure game takes players to trace the life of artist Claude Monet through his eyes—literally. The story takes place in his eyeballs. Naoum told Klaw Peels (a video game Youtube channel centered on emotional games) that seeing close-up images of the human eye inspired this game. He explained, “I found that just fascinating and super interesting because it looked like this giant landscape. So, I had this idea of making a game that is set on the edge of an iris and moves towards the pupil over the course of someone’s life.” Though Naoum means ‘pupil’ as in the eye, the word is also a play on a ‘pupil’ as in apprentice.

After working on the game for a few years, Naoum earned a grant from Screen Australia alongside 30 other indie developers. These grants aid in supporting these kinds of creative and unique games. For years, gamers and artists have criticized Australia for its frequent video game bans. Usually, the ban hammer comes down for depictions of violence, sex, drugs, etc. While the bans are overly heavy, it has birthed a sort of influx in unique titles like one of my favorite games, Unpacking. This investment into The Master’s Pupil and others supports that growth.

(screencap from Demo)

Monet’s influence isn’t just present in the aesthetic and narrative of the game. The movement he’s best known for, Impressionism, drives the mechanics. Looking at an impressionist painting close-up, you will not see much blending. Instead, you’ll see a lot of little brushstrokes. Developed in France in the late 1800s, Impressionism focuses on pure color and natural light to create a form. While playing the first two levels in the demo, I needed to use color theory 101 to get past barriers. (I promise it sounds more intense than it is.) Additionally, the Steam page notes that physics and space are key to completing the 12 levels.

This game releases today on PC, MAC, and the Nintendo Switch for $14.99. To learn more about Claude Monet and the Impressionist movement, check out this video by Sarah Urist Green of The Art Assignment.

(via TikTok, featured image: Pat Naoum Games)


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Author
Alyssa Shotwell
(she/her) Award-winning artist and writer with professional experience and education in graphic design, art history, and museum studies. She began her career in journalism in October 2017 when she joined her student newspaper as the Online Editor. This resident of the yeeHaw land spends most of her time drawing, reading and playing the same handful of video games—even as the playtime on Steam reaches the quadruple digits. Currently playing: Baldur's Gate 3 & Oxygen Not Included.