I nearly ignored calling my 90 year old grandmother to wish her happy birthday. That is how compelling and original this game is.
The first thing that got me was the music. It instantly puts you in the right mood: cultured, cultivated, but delicate and sad. It perfectly captures the underdog mood of the beginning, which is another place this game shines. Basically, for the first 7-10 years, your work is inferior and you have few friends in the art world. It makes placing in the annual Salon this amazing, worthwhile breakthrough. And when you get a gold medal, I haven't had a similar feeling of accomplishment in another RPG in a long time.
One thing I absolutely loved, and ached to see more, were scripted scenes like at the first Salon. It was this great combination of historical figures being witty and snark. THAT and the music set the scene. If more of these scenes unfolded over the course of 40 years, and varied depending on which movements you followed, who you befriended or kept a rival, I would pay money for that.
Why not 5 stars? While the range of movements are great, they at times feel more like stats building pieces than anything. Why make an Abstractionism piece, for instance, except for kicks? The Salon also never seemed to accept anything except Realism. At the beginning of the game until the 1880's (?) or so, that is very accurate. As times change, however, different styles would come into vogue. When Art Noveau came, for example, I was shocked it kept getting rejected.
So yes, I'm rambling, but that is how compelling this game is to me. It is incredible and original, and with some changes in a sequel it could be superb. Thank you.