Please, Touch the Artwork review
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Please, Touch the Artwork review

Our Review by Campbell Bird on February 3rd, 2022
Rating: starstarstarhalfstarblankstar :: IT ALL BLENDS TOGETHER
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This puzzle game imagines an art gallery where you manipulate paintings to move between works, a neat idea that doesn’t end up quite as fun as it sounds.

Developer: Studio Waterzooi

Price: $4.99
Version: 1.0.2
App Reviewed on: iPad Pro

Graphics/Sound Rating: starstarstarhalfstarblankstar
User Interface Rating: starstarstarhalfstarblankstar
Gameplay Rating: starstarstarhalfstarblankstar
Replay Value Rating: starstarstarblankstarblankstar

Overall Rating: starstarstarhalfstarblankstar

Please, Touch the Artwork reimagines an art gallery as a playful space where physically manipulating the artwork is all part of the experience. This sets up a puzzle game where you poke and swipe at abstract art pieces to solve various challenges and gain access to some light storytelling. All of this is certainly an interesting idea, but Please, Touch the Artwork doesn't have the breadth or depth of art and puzzle challenges to make it a fully satisfying experience.

Touching tour

As soon as you boot up Please, Touch the Artwork, you can tell that the sense of whimsy extends beyond just the game name. Just past the title screen, you enter a dialogue with a museum worker who you can talk with using various prompt responses. Many of these explain what the game is about and its structure, much like a real life museum staff would do. From there you are free to go between any of the game's three exhibits, all of which have their own puzzle format.

As for the artwork itself, Please, Touch the Artwork is entirely focused on the works of Piet Mondrian, the iconic abstract artist that created the neoplasticism movement. This style of art only uses straight lines, the three primary colors, and neutral colors of black white and gray, meaning your puzzle field is usually color blocks of blue, yellow, and red with black and white blocks and lines dividing them.

Mondrian mazes

Depending on the exhibit you choose to play, you'll be doing different things. "The Style" puzzle set has you recreating artwork by touching lines and blocks of a painting to cause them to radiate out onto the canvas. The goal is to replicate a reference piece in as few moves as possible. As you complete these puzzles, Please, Touch the Artwork doles out a small story about the foundation of the De Stiijl movement that Mondrian was at the center of.

The other two puzzle galleries are a bit more straightforward. "Boogie Woogie" and "New York City" both transform their paintings into maps, though in the former you deploy auto-moving blue dots from the edges of the canvas to find their destination and in the latter, you control an ever-extending black line to weave through increasingly complicated webs of yellow lines to gather the letters that end up spelling out a story.

Variations on a form

The puzzle archetypes in Please, Touch the Artwork definitely have some merit to them, particularly in the later stages of each gallery. That said, many early puzzles--plenty of others scattered between the start and end of a set--feel repetitive. The majority of the puzzles here don't really change up how they work so much as they make your view of the puzzle harder to parse, even though you are performing the same actions on them.

It would have been nice to see a little more variety in terms of puzzle types, or perhaps even explore creating puzzles from more than a single artist. As it stands, Mondrian's minimal abstractions tend to blend together, which creates some unity and consistency to the game's presentation, but also make moving from puzzle to puzzle pretty uneventful. The story vignettes that get doled out between pairs of puzzles create some allure in pushing forward, but they don't make the trek through 50+ puzzles of the same type feel entirely worth it.

The bottom line

I love the tone and core concept of Please, Touch the Artwork. And, to its credit, I know a lot more about Piet Mondrian and neoplasticism because of it. That said, many of Please, Touch the Artwork's puzzle designs wear rather thin pretty quickly, and there isn't quite enough variety or narrative development to make the whole thing feel worthwhile.

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