Please Touch Artwork Review (Switch eShop)

To find out if you’ll enjoy Please, Touch The Artwork, just take a look at your library. If you have any art books, we can guarantee you’ll have a great time playing this delightfully entertaining, challenging and unpretentious puzzler. Likewise, if you have ever visited a gallery or museum on your own. If you like puzzle games and even have a passing interest in modern art, in fact, you really should download it right away.

Three games make up this quirky fusion of art history and storytelling from developer Thomas Waterzooi, which weaves ingenious mechanics around an art style you’ll instantly recognize, even if your knowledge is lacking. A light narrative is woven throughout to entertain and surprise you without becoming boring or repetitive. If you’re looking to ground yourself with the game’s touchstones, Thomas Was Alone with a hint of Ape Out’s jazzy presentation comes close to describing the vibe. But, you know, in the form of a tactile art puzzle.

Please Touch Artwork Review - Screenshot 2 of 5

All three games are presented as a trio of galleries and will stretch your brainpower in different ways and to different degrees. A reception is held by an attendant who will point you in the right direction depending on your mood or provide you with enlightening quotes from Piet Mondrian, the artist whose abstract work – part of the De Stijl movement (“the style” in Dutch) – inspired the whole game.

The Style gallery is made up of 58 puzzles that begin with a completed composition on the left side of the screen, and the same canvas reproduced on the right, minus some lines or colors. The goal is to make the canvas on the right the same as the left. As you go through them, an original creation-style seven-day narrative unfolds on the title cards as new ideas are introduced while a distilled glimpse of the De Stijl movement appears on the “walls” of the gallery between the puzzles.

The mechanics are introduced and implemented brilliantly. Trial and error plays a natural role when experimenting and resetting comps. The primary colors, which are introduced with hilarious fanfare, don’t come with an explicit tutorial detailing how to apply them; the name of the game is all the instructions given to you and everything you need. Tapping any “box” on the canvas sends an outward wave of color that fills any adjacent space touching that box, corners included. Imagine a white square divided into four even squares. Tap the top-right square and the three adjacent squares will turn yellow, leaving the one you tapped white.

Please Touch Artwork Review - Screenshot 3 of 5

Adding multiple colors and, later, other complications such as diagonals will slow your progress after going through the opening builds, although if you fail multiple times, a hint system will appear. We have to admit that the latest comps have passed us by and the hint system has been put to good use.

The Style gallery therefore offers real brain teasers for puzzle buffs, but the other two galleries are easier to live with. Boogie Woogie follows two squares “who just want to be together”. In this gallery, lines are generated on a canvas, with squares positioned along the outer edge where each line ends and a target square at the end of one of them. Tapping on any of the outer squares causes them to travel along the line, and where the lines intersect on the canvas, colored squares materialize which have different effects on your move square.

Reds, for example, turn it 90 degrees to the right, while white sends it to the left. Blue squares send you back where you came from, and so on, with traps, tunnels, and other dangers appearing as you progress. Far less taxing than The Style, Boogie Woogie strikes a nice balance between storytelling and mechanics, marrying the two without becoming overworked as you mentally project the route of each waiting square on the outer edge of the canvas in order to pick the winner.

Please Touch Artwork Review - Screenshot 4 of 5

The New York gallery is the most evocative and meditative of the three modes, illustrating the thrill of moving to a big city through a set of increasingly complex labyrinths. You cycle through them from left to right by swiping in cardinal directions anywhere on the touchscreen. Collecting pellets throughout the ride, it feels like a mix of Pac-Man and Snake, although minus the dangers and stress inherent in these games. Did you take a wrong turn? Just go back where you came from and take a different route.

While the mazes look complicated, even the visually loudest examples are deceptively simple in practice. The NYC gallery is by far the least taxing of the three, in terms of gameplay. Completing the screens reveals the lines of a poem, but again the developer’s choice to lessen the mechanical challenge as the tone darkens keeps things from getting heavy, which we found refreshing. There are no end of indie games available – many of which are excellent, let’s add it – that go into complex and emotional places and require content caveats, not to mention a certain mood to digest and enjoy. Please Touch The Artwork is not one of those games. It’s thoughtful and thought-provoking, but it’s also “just” a fun little puzzler if you like. Don’t want all the sensitive and sophisticated waste? Just tap on it.

Please Touch Artwork Review - Screenshot 5 of 5

That’s the real beauty of Please, Touch the Artwork, though; it’s not “intellectual” at all. Waterzooi strives to demonstrate through interaction how these compositions, however abstract, are emotionally charged through their creation and absorption. Yes you could tap on all the “chatty stuff”, but if that doesn’t interest you, you’ll probably end up on the far right of the galleries, disappointed with the length of the game (two to three hours depending on the developer, although we’ve put some more than five, all inclusive). If you’re at all intrigued by the artwork that inspired the game, you’ll appreciate all the more how these delicate narratives complement the puzzle mechanics, both of which are cleverly used to engage and educate.

If you’ve made it to the end of this review and are still unsure, it’s $7.99 / £7.19 full price and there’s even a demo available to give you an idea. Given its relatively short duration, we encourage you to try out the full game if you feel like you’re halfway there, but the demo is there if you want it. There’s also an update planned for mid-January that will fix the Joy-Con controls if you want to game on the TV (it’s handheld only at the time of writing). Using Joy-Con goes somewhat against the philosophy of the title, but it’s great to see the game supported.

Conclusion

Please Touch the Artwork is a great little experience that cleverly combines intuitive and thoughtful puzzle mechanics with art history and humor to create an interactive exhibit you won’t want to miss. If you’re interested in modern art, you’ll definitely appreciate this gem, but even jigsaw fans who don’t know their Picassos from their Pollocks would do well to peruse these galleries. There’s really nothing else to say. Do what the title says.

Leave a Comment