What is art, really? And who is to say what it is? Does it come from a desire to create rather than to profit? At what point does art become invaluable. Culturally? Financially? Both? Why do we have to stop touching it when that happens? And most important of all: what would happen if you DID touch the artwork?
If you’re still around after all that, chances are you might be into Please, Touch The Artwork, the solo debut of Thomas “Waterzooi” Meynen that’s out today on Steam, App Store, and Google Play Store. Described as an aesthetic journey to the origins of modern art, set to a soothing jazzy soundtrack, the puzzle game ponders a range of different artistic themes and asks the players some interesting questions. It’s part zen puzzle game, part narrative adventure and 100 percent unique video game experience.
The project came to life during a sleepless night. Inspired by a book on modern art he was reading at the time, Meynen set out to create a Mondrian-painting generator which randomly generated paintings in Mondrian’s famous Composition in Red, Blue, Yellow style. A little puzzle mechanic was added and Please, Touch The Artwork was conceived.
From conception to birth, the project evolved in a lot of different directions. Taking feedback from players and fellow developers, it found comfort in its current form, where it offers three relaxing and wildly different puzzle games. The Style has players recreate paintings by playing with lines and colours. In Boogie Woogie players have to navigate increasingly complex patterns to reunite coloured squares, and New York City has them journeying through maze-like paintings, searching for letters to create a poem.
While the puzzles tickle that sweet spot between complex enough to feel smart and easy enough to not feel stupid, they’re not all that matters. The stories that unravel in between the brain teasers are just as important to the overall experience. They’re intriguing, well written pieces of prose and poem that make for an interesting change of pace and actually give you an extra drive to wrap your head around that puzzle that just doesn’t want to click. You need to give it a try yourself, but there’s a penalty free hint system that can gradually guide you to the solution.
It’s just all so very elegant and polished. This video game could’ve been interesting just as a series of puzzles based on Mondrian’s work, but it has become so much more. Rest assured: the opening vernisage of T. Waterzooi is not one you want to miss.
Next to the mobile and pc versions, there are plans for a Switch version in the not too distant future. If you like to experience this on a larger scale, Meynen has also developed a couple of art installations to present the work in museums. Touching the artwork while in a museum adds another layer of cultural meaning to the experience, and we can’t wait to feel all naughty doing so.