IMPRESSIONISTa’s Monet Meandering Falls Flat


Updated to reflect the new price

The idea of using a game/game-adjacent tech to explore a painting is nothing new. Heck, the idea of stepping into a Monet painting has been done in a game at least once (the point and click thriller Monet: The Mystery Of The Orangery which I STILL can’t get to work on this dang PC for a revisit) but I figured I’d post about IMPRESSIONISTa: Water Lilies [ site] because the environments have a really pleasant colour palette as far as I can see and I figureD they’d be pleasant to walk around. It was… hmm.

The nicest thing about IMPRESSIONISTa is that the colours are indeed lovely, so it’s like being in a slightly oversaturated dreamscape, and you do get some really pleasant viewpoints within the scene, mostly looking out over the water through some plants.

But the rest felt insubstantial, and started to bother me as I spent more time there. There’s so much re-use of assets that the flower beds just look pretty samey, and they do that thing where they’re on a flat plane but they rotate to face the player so you’re always face-on. It feels like the wrong stylistic choice here, as it throws up this disparity between your mobility in relation to the artwork, but that the art assets only work from one vantage point.


They’re also peculiarly blobby. If you want to talk Monet, he would paint flowers as these smears or blobs of colour as part of his scenes, but when he moved closer you would get more detail. I’m looking through his other paintings now and his agapanthuses are distinct from his irises which are distinct from his asters, sunflowers, waterlilies, roses… My point is that you’re “inside” the painting but for me it doesn’t really capture what Monet was up to, nor really what Impressionism is, it just puts you closer to the elements of it and lets you walk around them.


There’s also a tour mode which makes the game a passive experience as you let the pre-determined camera float around, showing you things. It’s a strange one because it highlights how some of the best viewing angles are ones you can’t find by walking around as they’re slightly above where first person view is.


IMPRESSIONISTa creates an effect that’s the game’s own rather than particularly relating to Monet or the techniques that came to characterise Impressionism. I’d say it’s more like an exploded view of an artwork, but sticking your face right up against a Monet painting isn’t really how you experience them. I only do that to get a sense of the physical brushwork – the three-dimensionality of the paint – and in a digital environment that bit is lost. And so it’s a pleasant dreamscape rooted in imagery that has come to be well-known but I kept being jarred out of the experience by these blobby, rotating assets that really don’t stand up to close quarters contact.


I think the main sticking point for me is that it’s $8 before VAT on For me that pushes it out of impulse buy territory and towards expectations of a meatier experience. I’d happily throw $3 or similar at it – the price of a coffee or some little treat – but it’s just not rewarding enough for more.

Update: The developer sent me an email to note that after feedback they have dropped the price to $2.99 which feels a lot more in line with the experience I had.


  1. GernauMorat says:

    Looks rather garish, in contrast to actual Monet.

    • Anthile says:

      Indeed, I love impressionism and this looks rather tacky. Imagine a game in the style of Redon.

    • Sizeable Dirk says:

      Apply the cataract and UV filter and turn off the 2006 bloom effect.

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    phuzz says:

    I remember going round Monet’s garden at Giverny a long time ago with my folks, and I am getting a slightly simlilar vibe from these screenshots. So I guess it works a bit.

  3. Turkey says:

    It’s giving me flashbacks to that stupid Oblivion quest where you have to fight the trolls in the painting.

    • Stugle says:

      Indeed. Even if this had turned out to be a great game/experience, it would have been irrevocably tainted for me by its superficial similarity to that blasted Oblivion quest.

  4. grimdanfango says:

    The Witness is an immeasurably more beautiful painting, one where practically every stone and leaf has been placed with meticulous care. It’s one of those games I wish desperately I could un-play, just so I could experience it as new again.

    • caff says:

      Yes this, or the views from the bridge in The Vanishing of Ethan Carter which were also exceptionally pretty.

  5. ThePuzzler says:

    For some reason, I find the title of this game to be the ANNOYINGESTa.

  6. poliovaccine says:

    Making a game like this just kinda highlights the reasons why not every guitarist should try and play covers of Jimi Hendrix. I mean I understand the impulse behind it, but it was just never going to reflect the artistry and experience of these paintings without being a sort of masterwork of game design itself… it was a risky idea to begin with, and as with musical covers, a rote imitation is never really enough to substantiate the thing’s existence – rather, it needs to bring some special insight, something new to the table… somethiny that shows us “this is why *I’M*[sic] the guy/gal/dev-team to interpret this work to you – this is the special connection and understanding I have which makes my qualification to do so self-evident – this is why you want *me* to explore the work of Monet!” And I don’t really get that sense here. This is a slightly enhanced screensaver…

    Frankly, the idea that this is a game for fine art enthusiasts is a bold claim to make, because it maybe inadvertently but nonetheless irresponsibly implies the same level of observational depth and value exists in the game as in the works it draws from. But it’s hard to feel that as experientially true when the fidelity of the very image you’re looking at is reduced the closer you look… for one example.

    Now, if they’d done something halfway clever, like make the blotchy assets scripted so that looking closer at them actually reveals the brush strokes which make them up, like you’d see on the actual painting, as described in the article by an author who clearly either paints or else has taken classes in consideration; or who’s certainly noticed what it’s like to look at a painting anyway… well, that would be the sort of little touch that, if the game were completely made up of them, it might actually work…

    For comparison, Sacramento attempts some really similar stuff, and succeeds in feeling like being the interior of a painting, in spite of not actually establishing that as an obvious opening conceit. . And I think it really helps that it paints its *own* picture, instead if trying to reproduce and capture the experience of beholding a preexisting picture, by one of the great masters no less. Also helps that the world in there is actually alive, has some moving parts to it… a few flamingos go a long way…

    It’s just kinda like… it doesn’t matter how incredible the person is – if their biographer can’t write, they’ll get a shitty biography.

  7. TechnicalBen says:

    Quite often those who try to mix technology and art do not understand technology. Oh they can understand art, but if rushed fall flat on the other.

    I was trying to think of a way to describe it to someone at work who is very “free” in their thinking of art and music. By all means that can be the case, but I think the perfect example would be taking a hammer to a drum, or trombone for that matter. You’ll make music, but will break the instrument.

    This tech does not quite seem right for this type of painting. Perhaps something done more with shaders and less with billboards (pre-rendered 2d plants).

  8. Urthman says:

    There’s a freeware 3D walking sim that does a much more successful take on generating impressionistic painterly landscapes by displaying the world in discrete frames like the original Myst did. It’s called Forska:

    link to

  9. GigoiaStudios says:

    thank you very much for all feedbacks. It´s super important for us here at Gigoia Studios to hear from you and always make better games. We´ll keep improving it…

    If this game made you look again at an art book, read about Impressionism, artists, and other art periods, go to a museum or art gallery to look at real paintings, so… one of IMPRESSIONISTa Water Lilies´s goals was achieved ;)

    * We are very aware that digital imagery can´t compare with real painting artwork. It´s extremelly difficult to achieve such effects.*

    even though this game is far from achieving tech miracles, maybe this simple game can make sense for some people.

    My best,
    Carlos Monteiro