Review Passpartout: the Starving Artist (Switch)

Game: Passpartout: the Starving Artist
System:  Nintendo Switch
Developer: Snowden Studios
Publisher: Flamebait
Age rating: Teen (America)/ 3+ (Europe)
Price: £8.99/ €9,99 / $9.99
Release Date: 18 October 2018

(also available on Steam and iOS/Android)

Review code kindly provided by Flamebait

Passpartout is a simulation  game. You are the artist who is trying to keep afloat in a world of art critics and passers by who might just buy your work. Your bills will keep coming in while you try to paint what the public loves. After all, you have to buy baguettes and wine to keep going. The game was released on the Nintendo Switch after seeing daylight on Steam over a year ago. Don’t own a Switch? You can also buy it in the App Store and Google Play Store as well.

How to get the creative juices flowing

When I started this game if had hopes of creating veritable art pieces. The people watching my paintings would utter exclamations of wonder. They would flock to my stall to buy it at high prices, and buying baguette and wine wouldn’t be a problem.

Real life of an artist is different.

In the game, you start out in a garage box of sorts. With two tables outside to display your art. An easel in the corner and a palette of many colors. At first, you have one brush, that can be set to fine thin streaks and broad swipes.

Touching the easel automatically brings up your canvas, waiting for what amazing ideas you might have. Choosing your color or adjusting the size of your brush is easily done. You can either use the buttons or go for touchscreen.

You put your paintings on display, give them a name, and hope for the best. The public will stroll by, cup of coffee in hand. Whether you like it or not, they will give their honest opinion. With luck, they will do a bid and your next batch of baguette is secured again.

Click on the till on the table to see the balance of your finances, to see if you can pay for next months wine and art supplies.

Sacrificing art for money

Putting your creative ideas onto the canvas isn’t exactly what I had expected. I had hoped for the kind of painting like we could do in Art Acadamy on the 3DS. When I found that the fine work isn’t really possible on the Switch, I was disappointed.

You can paint either by using the buttons on the joycon, or on the touchscreen. I have found working on the touchscreen works best, but it’s still not very detailed. Some way into the game I got a brilliant idea though. I tried using a stylus I have for my iPad, and that works much better. Of course, the tools that are added as you progress help too. A spray paint tool for instance works nicely to add some special zing to your painting.

When you sell enough, and get noticed by the right critic, you can upgrade. The first upgrade is from your garage box to a real atelier and so on. Be aware that you must actually choose to upgrade, you can play on at your old level too if you want. As there is an endless mode in the game too, this makes sense. Do you want to follow the game and finish it, or keep on doodling?

Everyone’s a critic

You might think that you have made an artwork that will get recognized and lead to your leveling up. But the reality is very different. My little artist 👩‍🎨 had a thing or two to say about that:

How dare they critique my artwork? I put my heart and soul in that piece of art, and all I get is “Mainstream Garbage” or “Skill and Effort makes good art. I doubt this has either”. And the worst? “Painted by a dilettante!” I’m so outraged that I threw my barrette on the ground just now and was trying to stomp it in the ground. Livid I tell you. They are derisive about one of my most Real Life Paintings. A blue sky with white dotted fluffy clouds, like sheep in a pasture. Some seagulls are drifting in the hazy sky. And they see they absolutely hate the color? Uncultured barbaric louts!

You see, the game rewards you with high prices and good reviews for the strangest paintings. I soon found that making an effort to make a pleasing painting isn’t required. I think it all comes down to a certain combination of colors and shapes.

When I realized that I went for the big money: you can paint 26 paintings using the letters of the alphabet….A bit of a pity, but then, if a real life critic can’t even discern Art with a capital A, how will they program it into a game?

However, you can also play in endless mode, and not worry about having to pay bills. That way, the creative part of the game can take centre stage.

La vie d’un artiste peintre

You have to take into account that Passpartout isn’t as much about making beautiful drawings on a virtual canvas. It’s much more about making sure you won’t get broke and please the right critics. The developers have gone about this with a sense of humor. Just look at the representation of your audience. Can they be any more stereotypical French?

The graphics are good, when a new canvas comes up on the screen you really see the texture of the sheet. The movement on my Switch can be a bit jittery: when the characters stand in each other’s way they just bulldozer on.

The music in Passpartout: The Starving Artist is made by Synkronosaurus. It’s jazzy and changes with each new studio, a good accompaniment to the game.

The game isn’t very long, but endless mode might keep you occupied for a bit.


The game certainly manages to get you involved, but not in the way I had expected. Passpartout feels more like a management game to me then a painting game. But then, that’s exactly what kept me playing. Trying to level up to the next art studio, and rake in high prices for my painting.

I like the game, but I do think it might be more easily playable in handheld mode on, for instance, an iPad or other tablet. Making real paintings would be much easier on a bigger canvas.

Final Verdict: I Like it I like it

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