One of the best things about video games is the way in which they allow us to inhabit and explore a virtual space. These arenas are often beautiful, and some features, such as photo modes, encourage players to appreciate their graphics. But Gigoia Studios takes this a step further: their games are set within famous artworks.

Their –a suffix series – SURREALISTa, IMPRESSIONSTa Water Lilies, IMPRESSIONISTa Windmills, and FAUVISTa Sailboats – gives a gorgeous look at four different artists (Giorgio de Chirico, Claude Monet, Paul Joseph, and Andre Derain), and each is well worth taking some minutes out of your day to sink into.

Take a Breather

Each begins in a gallery, and provides some information about the artist and their work. I’m by no means an expert in fine art, and the blurbs given seem well tailored to me – enough to give some context without being oblique or overwhelming.

Then you step into the paintings. The games’ itch.io pages state: “Gigoia Studios is very aware that digital imagery can´t compare with real painting artwork.” Instead, they do something different: try to evoke an atmosphere and give a “short, simple, contemplative experience” that may encourage further appreciation for the art and artists.

It works. Each game evokes both the place represented in the art and the way it’s made; the soft focus pastels of Water Lilies is very different to the vivid colors of Sailboats. But each is a space to take a breath and appreciate the environment without distractions. When I automatically hit shift in Water Lilies – usually the button to run – I instead stopped dead still. It probably wasn’t intentional (you can run in Sailboats and Windmill; hitting shift in SURREALISTa does nothing) the effect was fitting, forcing me to slow down and enjoy the walk.

All of Gigoia Studios’ games are available for pay what you want at their itch.io page, and are highly recommended as a calming and enjoyable way to spend a few minutes learning something new in beautiful surroundings.

Jay Castello

Jay Castello

Jay is a freelance games writer specialising in intersectional feminist critique, how to improve games and use them to improve the world, and cute dogs. She loves inhabiting digital spaces in all their forms, and being constantly surprised by just how weird and wonderful games can be.
Jay Castello

@jayplaysthings

I freelance about video games and tweet about my dog. (she/her)
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