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I got a surreal art sim to rate my dog

Julian Glander's surreal Art Sqool, out today, turns the trials and tribulations of being an art student into a bizarre dreamscape where players must craft wonderful works of art for an AI professor to critique. I have been known to doodle, so I decided to see if I have what it takes to become a career artist. 

My first task, doled out by my AI professor, was to draw the last thing I said "I love you" to, which was easy. It was, of course, my bestest bud, Max the labradoodle. Despite the fact that he was just in the living room and and I have approximately 80 million pictures of him, I decided to sketch him from memory. 

Here is my striking piece. 

ART.

 And here is what the real Max looks like. 

Clearly I've been wasting my time working in the video game industry. I should have been a pro dog artist. My professor was less convinced and gave me a B grade. Now, a B isn't bad, but I was hoping for more. Dotted around the floating islands that make up Art Sqool's campus are various pots of paint and art supplies, each containing the promise of more elaborate art. Maybe I should have grabbed them? 

I found some blue paint and got on with my second task: draw some molecules. I wish I'd gone abstract, but instead I just carelessly threw some lattices onto the page and called it a day. Honestly, I was still a bit sore about the B. What does he know? Stupid professor. 

He gave it an A. 

I'm not really sure how the AI judges each piece, and there doesn't appear to be much correlation between the grade and the bars that represent skills like composition and line work. It might even be random. 

Even if my AI professor is really a fraud and the grades are hollow, I find myself oddly enchanted by Art Sqool. The entire campus is a gleeful, free-form art exhibition full of googly-eyed statues and mountains that look like candy. There's not a lot you can do to interact with the world, but it's not lacking in purpose. Every weird shape, out of place tower and alien tree is a potential source of inspiration.

Could use more dogs, though. 

Art Sqool is out now on Steam and Itch.io

Fraser Brown

Fraser is the UK online editor and has actually met The Internet in person. With over a decade of experience, he's been around the block a few times, serving as a freelancer, news editor and prolific reviewer. Strategy games have been a 30-year-long obsession, from tiny RTSs to sprawling political sims, and he never turns down the chance to rave about Total War or Crusader Kings. He's also been known to set up shop in the latest MMO and likes to wind down with an endlessly deep, systemic RPG. These days, when he's not editing, he can usually be found writing features that are 1,000 words too long. He thinks labradoodles are the best dogs but doesn't get to write about them much.