Pentiment was released on the 15th of November 2022 on Windows, Xbox, and Steam. It is a 2D adventure murder mystery from game developers Obsidian, known for their previous releases, Outer Worlds, Fallout New Vegas and more recently Grounded. It’s safe to say the game strays from the game developers’ usual 3D adventure games. This game has garnered a lot of attention lately and I was eager to see what the game has to offer.
THE FONT OF ALL KNOWLEDGE AWAITS
This game initially stood out, from all other games, due to its illustrative and novel style of graphics. Coupled with its overreaching murder mystery storyline and interesting aesthetic, I was interested to discover more.
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Pentiment sees you take on of Andreas Maler. A master artist who has travelled to the Bavarian Alps to study at an abbey. This is a time of great religious and political change, the nation a powder keg waiting to blow. To add to this Andreas finds himself in the middle of a murder mystery. As you take to the well-trodden paths of Tassing, a relatively small town, you encounter the inhabitants each with their own story to tell. You also create your own backstory by answering questions about what you have studied and what your interests are. These will aid you in dialogue options going forward.
Soon you are caught up in the murder of an important nobleman and take it upon yourself to solve the murder. A friend, and mentor, have been accused of the murder. You are given a few days to make your own investigation after which it then falls on you to accuse someone. Andreas sets out to ask questions to try and find out who could be behind all this. You do all this while still sticking to a routine. Each day is split into schedules; work, eat, sleep. You have to use the time given to you wisely to follow up on leads. Time is fleeting and not all questions can be asked in the time given.
As the game progresses you get to know the inhabitants of Tassing through your questions, including their scandals, secrets, intrigue and gossip. Each decision and choice you make through the game will have an impact going forward. This is shown by the dreaded words appearing on the screen “that will be remembered” or something similar. This is more pertinent when accusing someone of murder. Andreas has a journal and a codex of everyone, plus a clever function to give you information on people and locations you may have forgotten. We find out, however, the murder is more far-reaching than expected. Mysterious notes start appearing encouraging the murder and serving as warnings to anyone looking into the murder.
Graphics & Audio
Pentiment lets you venture into a colourful, immersive, and detail-rich environment. The graphics are similar to that of illustrations from historic books from the 16th Century. The graphical style of characters and surroundings are very unique and interesting to look at, making every scene and encounter a visual treat. The great animation work brings these two dimensional characters to life, whether it be in small gestures or their expressions.
You are also introduced to the inventive communication style. As you enter dialogue with others you notice you are actually writing the words! Each character has their own style, making errors and corrections as they speak. The townsfolk have a rough around the edges style and if they get upset ink blotches begin to appear adding emphasis. Andreas, an educated scholar, has a more refined style outlining the words and then filling them in. An interesting and novel approach to encounters, which made the gameplay fun. The unique style of this gave each character you came across their own personality in a way I’ve not seen in a game for some time.
The audio that accompanies you through the vibrant lands fits well with the period masterfully. The great-sounding music draws you into the interwoven and sometimes mysterious experience. Just as the music draws you in the sound effects, from the bustling town noise to its atmosphere-rich abbey, make the world feel lived in and real.
I got lost in this game. However, I initially was going to take three hours to take in all that the game had to offer. Instead, I found myself being encouraged to bed by my missus at just shy of 12 hours. Good job I had nothing much planned for the day! Time flew by, just as it did in the game after I become caught up in the mystery and interacting with this now well-known townsfolk. As I followed the life stories of what come to be generations of the characters you encounter I grasp the size of the game. The far-reaching consequences of your actions and solving the mystery made for a good experience, to say the least.
Pentiment isn’t going to be to everyone’s taste and will divide its audience. Some will love it and some will hate it. No doubt some will sit somewhere in the middle. When it comes to Pentiment an interest in history isn’t mandatory, but it does help to get you hooked on the real-life history depicted throughout. I’m by no means a history buff, with most of the knowledge thrown at me going over my head, but I find it all interesting.
History aside, I found this game addictive. I found myself wanting to move the story on. I wanted to follow the story of the main character and everyone surrounding them. Getting closer and closer to solving the mystery was a thrilling ride. However, I’d recommend anyone to give the game a go at least as it’s a unique experience. I grant Pentiment a Thumb Culture Gold Award!