As far as weirdest games that I could be playing at any moment in time, ‘Artisan Going Home Again’ ranks among the weirdest. ‘Artisan’ is not inherently weird, but me playing it is probably a peculiar sight. However, regardless of what me playing ‘Artisan’ looks like, there are some really solid elements that make for a hook heavy game that is easy to lose hours in here and there. Even if some elements tend to be a bit shallow.
At its heart, ‘Artisan’ is a time management sim, wherein you play an artist who needs to earn money to keep her childhood home. While you manage your time between jobs, art shows, and personal projects, you will also be forging relationships with cute boys, artsy girls, and some immediately horrible art show lady (she lightened up). You get to take two actions per day and then night time falls. You can sleep through the night or work, but working will raise your stress level and lower your health.
You play as Ellie (or whatever you want as you can change her name), who begins as a socially inept girl with little artistic talent. As you read self-help books, work on drawings, talk to boys, and sell your art you level up your technical abilities, social capacity, and renown. These help you to complete higher tasks or unlock new sections of the story. All of this helps you work towards your overall goal of $50,000.[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QOwyWtv7s44]
The writing in ‘Artisan’ is really strong. The four main characters have distinct personalities and the animations totally fit the characters. I couldn’t help but gain an affinity for most of the characters and the writing and conversations were definitely my favorite part of the game. Some of the characters were unrealistically helpful and nice, but it fit the mantra of the game. It’s a feel good game, even with the rejection you may face from possible employers.
The rest of the game is a day-to-day grind. It’s a matter of waking up, doing some work, maybe going out, and mixing in personal projects. Mainly you are managing different descriptive bars (such as inspiration and stress) which affect your work. So you’re managing a life balance in a way. The real problem is that there are only two activities outside of the simulation and dialogue situations.
In ‘Artisan’ there are a few puzzles and a matching game you can play to create art. I found that playing the matching game was the quickest way to get more inspired so that I could do work faster. I played the matching game way too much. It quickly got tired and I grew ridiculously bored of it. There were other ways to up my inspiration, like heading to the museum, but these weren’t as effective as a good run through the matching game.
Being that the matching game and going out were my only reprieves from completing tasks, I found the cycle of events quickly wore on me. ‘Artisan’ isn’t a long game, clocking in at about 4 or 5 hours, depending on the ending you get, but it was 4 or 5 hours of generally the same activities, with the conversations being the only enjoyable thing to do once I tired of the basic simulation mechanics. This also takes away from the replayability, being that even if I want to see one of the other dozen endings, I would need to continue or start over doing these tasks and building rapport in the art world.
‘Artisan Going Home Again’ is a charming game with fantastic writing. The brilliant art and initial charm went a long way to get me to continue playing. Unfortunately, ‘Artisan’ is handcuffed by a lack of variety and there just isn’t enough that motivates a second or third playthrough, which nullifies the appeal of so many different endings. While, I found myself enjoying my initial time with ‘Artisan’, it just did not hold up through the latter stages of the game. If you’re looking to enjoy some great writing and a light sim, this is a good purchase, especially if you have a daughter or niece to share it with. As for cynics like me, more content please.
Indie Games AAA’s Rating: