Painters Guild, by Lucas Molina (a Brazilian Indie Game Developer and History teacher), is a historical simulation game.
Set in Italy during the Renaissance period (1465 – 1620) it is up to you to guide your art workshop from its humble beginnings as a hovel with just a single room to the highest levels of prestige as a multi-story home of art, all before the end of the Renaissance period.
Behind its charming pixilated graphics lies a beautifully addictive game. You start off by naming your guild and then choosing the city your workshop will be based in, each one provides a different bonus:
Florence grants a bonus of 10% extra gold on each painting completed.
Venice grants a bonus to the beauty of each completed painting.
Rome grants a 25% gold bonus for great works completed.
After choosing your city you will need to create your first artist; which is a simple process.
Select your age, hat & hair styles, the clothing, eye colour, gender, sexual preference and finally a name.
Happy with your choices? Then hit play.
When you start the game you will find your artist resting in bed. Keeping your artists energy levels high is essential to producing works of art quickly, you don’t want your painter to fall asleep in the middle of an urgent commission…
After a few moments your first customer will approach your shack. Customers will come in several guises, each one wanting to task you for works of art of varying difficulty, the higher the difficulty the less time you will have to finish the job.
The commissions can range from paintings of numerous sizes to decorating whole buildings.
The difficulty levels for the paintings are rated from 1 to 5 stars and certain customers may want art of a particular style. During the early game you may find you do not have an artist that can paint to the style the customer requires. You can select anyone to attempt any job you receive, but if the artist is proficient of the style required they receive a bonus and will finish the job quicker.
As you complete more and more commissions your artist’s skill levels will increase. And as the skill levels increase the more difficult jobs can be taken and finished quicker, meaning more money can be earned. Eventually, you will want to expand your guild and start hiring apprentices to continue to produce works of art after your first artist dies.
As well as expanding the guild, you can decorate the workshop with furniture, ranging from fancy beds and chairs, which help your artists regain energy, desks, life models and dead bodies, they will help your artists raise their skills and there are also items to improve the prestige of the guild and items that can help change the artist’s styles.
The appearance of each room is fully customisable and can also improve the prestige of the guild.
Hiring new painters is a simple affair, when you feel the time is right or when you have expanded the guild and have the space for another artist, you go to the Hire Painter menu, and from here you are presented with 3 options.
Each option is an area of the city you are based in, each area has an associated cost and potential talent level attached to it, each one costs money and has a timer:
District, this area will cost 100 Florin’s and the results are instantly shown to you, but the skill levels of artists found here are very low.
City, the city will cost 300 Florin’s and will take 50 days to search, the average talent levels are 3 stars which will present more capable artists.
Country, the country costs 500 Florins, and takes 100 days to search. You will find some of the best artists with this option though this will remove one of your existing artists from the workshop as he or she will personally go out to find the next Da Vinci.
Speaking of Da Vinci, as the game progresses you will be alerted to famous artists being available to hire, these will be highly skilled and as such, expensive to bring to the guild.
As your apprentices gain levels they will have certain requests to help them improve. To progress from a novice to a journeyman painter they may ask that you fund a trip around Europe, this will take them away from the guild for 2 years. Progressing from a Journeyman to Master painter will require them to paint a masterpiece, this is a one-time only chance, so you will need to make sure they are well rested and that the paint supplies are fully mixed.
In Painters Guild, death and taxes are as certain as in real life, at the end of each year you are presented with your yearly expenses. If you do not have enough money saved you will find your artists leaving the guild as you could not afford to pay them, if you lose all your artists it is game over.
Over time your artists may become ill, if you wish to, you can pay for a doctor to treat them however, this does not guarantee that they will survive.
Similarly at times you may find your artists jailed for offences ranging from not paying a gambling debt, getting into a brawl, fraud or being accused of homosexuality (punishable by death at that time). The majority of the crimes come with a 200 Florin fine, if you can’t pay the fines you will lose the artist for 200 days, if you are accused of homosexuality and cannot pay what is asked, you lose the artist.
Occasionally you will see a messenger appear who will tell you the news from around Italy. These can be anything from the deaths of great artists, popes or book publishing’s.
At the end of the Renaissance age the campaign ends, but this does not end the game. If you wish to continue the game, you will be informed that there will be no new random events.
I really like Painters Guild, though it is a bit short, depending on which speed you play the game at you can finish the campaign in under 3 hours. The controls are simple, all you need to do is drag the painter onto a blank canvas and they will begin, I get the feeling that this would be a great game to play on a mobile device.
Available on steam for under £7, Painters Guild is a fun game to play and if you get sucked in as I was you will get your money’s worth out of it.