A Painter’s Tale: Curon 1950 (PC Review): Time To Reflect

In 2020, Tommaso is working on a painting in Curon, but after seeing an unusual light, awakens almost 70 years in the past in A Painter's Tale: Curon 1950.

Cherry-picking titles has never been my thing, but sometimes I dive straight into a game without knowing anything about it. A Painter’s Tale: Curon 1950 was one such title. Let’s find out together, shall we?

Sorry to break the concept of space and time, but I already know about Monkey Tale’s game, having finished it on my ‘puter. I’m writing this in the past. No – future. Oh, forget it.

It’s a quaint tale, unsurprisingly about a painter who’s a bit down in the dumps. Separated into three acts, it follows Tommaso on his trip to the underwater town of Curon, Northern Italy.

A Painter’s Tale: Curon 1950 (PC Review)

Tommaso is a bit of a sad sack, and a few times when he was moping about, I wanted there to be a button that slapped him. Even when he runs, he has the world on his shoulders. Fortunately, his life is about to turn upside down.

A Painter's Tale PC Review - Curon
Curon. Source: Screen capture

Initially set in 2020, Tommaso is somehow transported to the late 1940s, leading to the event that will sink the town. Based on actual events, an artificial lake was constructed to provide power for neighbouring settlements. At first, the lake would have been raised by 5 metres but shifted to 22 metres without telling the citizens.

As a result, they were forced to leave their homes into make-do accommodation significantly smaller than their own home and poorly insulated. Despite their protests and the Pope’s involvement, the town was demolished and sunk, leaving only the protruding bell tower that stands today.

Understandably tensions were high, and there are many accounts on record from the various sides involved. A Painter’s Tale: Curon 1950 transports you back to the time leading up to, during and after the destruction of Curon.

The Past Is Revealing

The developers have created a short story that blends a historical setting with a bit of fantasy. It could have been tactless with its depiction of the Italians being the baddies and the German townsfolk the innocents, but when you dissect it, the them and us is about the workers versus the inhabitants or modern versus the traditional – irrespective of nationality (the developers are from Italy.

A Painter's Tale PC Review - Facts
The facts. Source: Screen capture

Is Tommaso really in 1950 Curon? Is it a dream? Will it all be revealed in a Dallas-like shower scene. Look it up if you’re young (it’s safe for work).

Rebuilding his memories, Tommaso moves around the town, interacting with real-life artefacts and locations, recreated in the voxel aesthetic. I loved the direction with the camera angles, editing…show-off word – mise-en-scène. Though a brief playthrough, it had an immediate presence.

The character designs weren’t my thing. I wasn’t a fan of the garlic noses or eyebrows – perhaps The Touryst minimalist approach would have been my preference, but it’s precisely that: preference. It doesn’t impact the story, which clearly is the standout.

Clumsy

Just to get it out there, the controls spoiled the experience a little. In A Painter’s Tale, you can only control Tommaso with the keyboard, and it’s clumsy the way he interacts with some of the environments – especially slopes.

But that’s the only negative. The fact that it took a couple of hours to finish is irrelevant as I’m still thinking about it. Whipping out the iPad, I’ve binged on the facts, holiday snaps and started watching Curon on Netflix (referred to in the later notes in the game). 

Any game that has me proactive like this is a big thumbs up. We could pin the tail on the actual history being the fascinating element, but no: A Painter’s Tale is immersive, and I thoroughly enjoyed my time spent. Ignoring my preference for the character designs, Monkey Tales are raconteurs and recreated a slice of history in this voxel playground.

A Living Painting

Besides wooing over the story and the general poignant feeling that this game evoked, I must say that the score throughout is wonderful. It captured the emotions I was experiencing from the character’s plight – more so that these events happened (though the protagonist’s story is fictional). Could you imagine being forced out of your home in this manner?

A Painter's Tale PC Review - Muse
The muse. Source: Screen capture

For fact fans who get absorbed with the lore of a fantasy game or even historical piece, Tommaso carries around a notebook that is essentially a scrapbook of real-life facts and images, paintings in the era’s style, and sketches of the residents.

Again, it’s a short piece, but you end up taking your time exploring the town as if it were a living painting, mingling with the locals, then jumping on the internet to search ‘what is speck?’.

A Painter’s Tale Curon 1950 Review Summary

The introduction of the voxel characters put me off at first, but within a few minutes, I felt like I, too, had been whisked away to the past, taking in the sights and reflecting on the piano composition. Not only is A Painter’s Tale: Curon 1950 inspirational in learning about a fragment of time, but you might pick up a bit of German and Italian in the process.