Eye of the beholder

This hand-painted video game took seven years to complete.

‘Yep, that’s right, hand painted,’ says Australian artist and graphic designer Pat Naoum, of his video game, The Master’s Pupil, which is played through the ‘eye’ of renowned Impressionist painter Claude Monet (of ‘Water Lilies’ fame). ‘Outside of Monet’s masterpieces, hundreds of hours have been spent painting backgrounds, foregrounds and assets to sculpt a world that fits with Monet’s changing style across his life.’

Available on Nintendo Switch and Steam, the recently released game is a 12-level puzzle-adventure that takes players through the life and masterpieces of Monet as he slowly loses his eyesight - in 1912, the artist learned that he had cataracts, a progressive disease of the eye that seems to have left its mark on his work: by distorting the light coming into the eye, cataracts reduce the capacity to perceive blue and purple, and accentuate perception of warmer colours. ‘The player experiences the ups and downs of [Monet’s] timeline over the course of the whole game. Fragments and emotions are filtered down and portrayed with an intricate soundscape and score,’ says Naoum. The rich soundscape was produced by indie composer Steven W Schouten.

The 12 levels lay out 16 main puzzles for players, including colour combining, flowing drafts and breakable crystals, along with physics-based balls, blocks and actual chunks of paintings. Throughout the game, players encounter and overcome increasing challenges as Monet experiences loss, like the passing of his wife Camille, and struggles with the cataracts that threatened his artistic skill. Players are challenged both spatially and mentally, encouraged to think like an artist as they consider colour, space and timing to complete puzzles such as mixing the colours for Monet’s masterpieces. 

Naoum worked on The Master’s Pupil for over seven years, hand-painting the backgrounds, creatures and scenery with acrylic paints on paper before scanning them with a high-resolution film-negative scanner. The indie game developer also had to learn how to code. 

Download the game online at https://store.steampowered.com/app/2082320/The_Masters_Pupil/


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Photographs: The Master’s Pupil.