Being an artist is a wonderful feeling. The euphoria of unleashing your inner emotions onto a canvas, the calm of painting intricate details, the satisfaction of blending colors. And while SuchArt: Genius Artist Simulator offers a good selection of options to create your masterpiece and absolute freedom, it does sometimes act in ways that realism cannot capture. But SuchArt and accessibility could do with some work as we found in a preview build of the early access title.
Before we jump into SuchArt and its accessibility, let’s touch on what the game is. At its core, it hosts a story where you, a human of the future where paintings are usually done by robots, are given a role as an artist. You start up in your spacious apartment, creating paintings for small-time clients, and as your fame grows, so does the number of commissions and your income. There’s also a side-story taking place through certain emails dotted throughout the commissions that come flooding in.
But really, the game is about creative freedom. You’re able to paint on pretty much everything in the room, or if you like it clean, you can clean up your mess, both situations bring me absolute satisfaction regardless. After creating a character name and choosing pronouns, you’re then able to choose your style of play. Story mode lets you start small, slowly progressing through riches and fame. Fast Forward is story mode but sped up, allowing you to rush through your fame and money, and is described to be good for shorter streams. Creative lets you run rampant with unlimited money and everything unlocked.
SuchArt at this moment in time doesn’t have much in terms of accessibility features, but it does have a good selection of settings. You can choose to adjust the master volume or the music but with no way to adjust anything other. An auto-save feature is available with you being able to adjust the timeframe for those intervals, and you can choose to have tutorial notifications pop up or hidden. There’s also a colourblind mode with another option to adjust your field of view.
The settings also allow the camera speed to be adjusted, and another option allows you to adjust how the camera moves while your painting. There’s a left-handed mode available, and you’re able to invert mouse clicks as well as inverting vertical aim for both general play and when painting. Additionally, to pick something up into your inventory, you’re required to click and hold until a circle is completed, and there an option to choose the time it takes for this action to complete.
Really, it’s worth seeing SuchArt as a simulation to get a better idea of how things in the game world work because, well, it’s a simulation. Everything is designed to react according to how it would react if you were to drag a bucket of water or slap the wall with a paintbrush. It also means that your movement is restricted to feeling like navigating an actual physical space, including walking up the stairs just to get to the computer area.
Now, there are two ways to interact with items. You can either move them with physics involved to allow for rotating while holding the button down, or you can pick interactive items up such as brushes, paint guns, or flamethrowers. Yes, flamethrowers. While I had no issues with these hold inputs, it would be nice to allow players to choose a toggle feature instead. This is more so needed when it comes to painting large areas because to paint, you need to hold your input down to hold the brush out to the canvas.
In saying that, interactive objects could be more prominent because it feels like SuchArt wants to keep the simulation feel alive by not having too much in the ways of on-screen guides. As an example, I ordered some thin paintbrushes from the in-game store, but when they were delivered, I struggled to see them on the floor clearly because of the lack of outline indicating an interactive item. And what’s more, the focus dot at the center of the screen cannot be adjusted in size or color which makes targeting a nuisance. This is particularly more frustrating when trying to click buttons on the computer screen.
Warped screens and UI
Talking of the computer. In keeping with the simulation feel, SuchArt has you using a computer that exists in the 3D space. It doesn’t lock to your screen and can only be used by prodding at it and it is fairly large, so the screen looks warped a lot of the time unless you’re looking at it head-on. But trying to read and press buttons with this warping made for an unpleasant experience. There’s also a lot of reading with no way to manage what you’re being presented.
It would be nice if there was access to an optional tablet that locked into view in a similar way to how opening the Journal works. Essentially, it would allow the player access to emails and the store from the comfort of where they’re standing. Also, locking the computer to the player’s screen in a similar way would help with viewing it.
There are other issues with viewing things in SuchArt because there are no accessibility features for zooming in which would have helped with reading the post-it notes scattered around the rooms or even just admiring finer details in paintings. But for me, the lack of background on HUD text made reading the information a lot harder than it needed to be. And email notifications pop up in the top right, but I’d often only hear the beep rather than see the actual message due to it blending into the white of a canvas.
I do like how the inventory is laid out. When you pick things up, they go into an assigned numbered slot so I can easily know what button to press to switch to that one. Or I just use the mouse wheel and scroll the boxed outline to the item I require. Of course, some resize options would have been nice to see, or maybe even instead of having a full brush, it shows you a close-up of the type of brush head. I also like how the journal flashes blue when a task has been completed.
Cumbersome in creative
What’s more frustrating about that darn computer is that it’s situated upstairs away from the artistic area downstairs. This does mean there’s a lot of back and forth. But in creative mode, a mode you’d expect to be more fun and free, there’s even more back and forth because you have unlimited access to the store, so you’re constantly wanting to go back up to buy more things. If anything, I’d have expected a whole new open plan room for creative mode, but it’s an exact replica of your story mode apartment with new tools.
But despite that, the creative mode is wonderfully enjoyable and often relaxing. I can’t say I felt pressure in the main story mode despite having commissions coming through in droves. It felt as if I was able to accept however many commissions I wanted at any time without the worry of being penalized for running out of time. In fact, the only “penalty” felt like I was just progressing through fame slower.
From the SuchArt main menu, I’d realized you can’t rebind keys for accessibility. But when you’re in-game, the pause menu has a rebind area. For keyboard and mouse, this seems to allow you to rebind the majority of gameplay inputs from your movements, to quicksave, and even the inventory slots. So I plugged in a controller to see what the difference entailed. For rebinding, the menu element vanishes, so there are no rebinds available for controller.
What’s more, while a camera snapping option is added to the controller settings area, SuchArt uses a cursor controlled by the left analog stick, which at its default moves incredibly fast, but you can adjust the deadzone. However, this doesn’t make navigating menus easier because you’re locked to maneuvering the cursor instead of snapping to menu elements. When in actual play, some new input prompts appear, allowing you to adjust the brush speed with the triggers, and some prompts for changing inventory items and throwing items. Like earlier though, the text is hard to read.
Honestly, I found using a controller difficult to get that precision you may want for some types of paintings. There’s quite a bit of pressing and holding different buttons to achieve different things such as rotating as well. But hey, at least I managed to write “controller” semi neatly.
Enjoyable but with hindrances
SuchArt may not have much in terms of accessibility, but for an early access game is it fun if you’re willing to deal with the simulation focus. Hopefully, new features can be added in time, and I especially hope to see resize features become available, even more so after learning the game is due to be heading to the Nintendo Switch in the future. And even with the new Nintendo Switch OLED Model, that text is going to be rough to read.