Tenebris Pictura – Xbox Review

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The world is a weird and wonderful place, and Pentadimensional has taken a slice of the weird and wonderful and captured in Tenebris Pictura. What do I really know about the paranormal, the fifth dimension or out of body experiences? Well not a lot, well I say that there was this one time when me and this girl were….. I think I’ll leave that there. So time to strap on my big boy pants and enter the world where all is not as it seems. I’m sure that the padded cell can wait for me a little longer.

Tenebris Pictura – What even does it mean? Google Translate Anyone?

The look of Tenebris Pictura has definitely got my excitement levels up. It has a certain Lovecraftian feel to it that I really like. Hopefully, the gameplay will live up to my expectations. I have just drawn a huge pentagram around my Xbox and lit a few candles, after all, you can never be too sure these days, and I have seen Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle.

A man stands in a dessert scene. He is in a gorge surrounded by large rocks. He is followed by four horses pulling a Victorian carriage. A small dessert plant grows in a little of the shade. It doesn't look like a fun place.
O Lord, why hast thou forsaken me?


Tenebris Pictura is a third-person adventure set in Victorian times. You play a psychic called Magnus with some rather unique abilities in a quest to discover the truth about your friend’s daughter’s disappearance. It seems that Sophie might have been murdered, but then again, maybe not. Your adventure takes place on a very strange and mysterious island with new areas unlocking as your adventure progresses.

A quick tutorial gifts you the basics of the game. Avoid the pink stuff. You quickly learn to separate your body and your spirit and use the two in perfect harmony to solve intriguing puzzles and kill strange demonic creatures. All the while your guide is a strange entity that is sometimes useful but mainly irritatingly confusing. Mind you, I am easily confused.

As your adventure progresses you collect amulets that you can wear to gain special powers. You can wear three at a time, each bound to a different button, and each usable by either you or your spirit. These are very powerful and almost essential to be used in the right places to defeat demons or solve puzzles.

One amazing skill is the ability to jump directly into paintings, the artistry reflects this brilliantly. You soon realise it is a very unique way of solving some puzzles. There is a very artistic feel to the whole experience, something that I absolutely love.

A large room with a table in the center. Ornate Victorian wallpaper hangs on the walls and the rug seems to be of a similarly tasteless design. Two floor standing head height candelabras stand at the far side of the room guarding a wooden door with a round window in it. A shadowy creature is to the right, but really it's just your own shadow as you are hiding behind a sizable chunk of furniture, possibly a bookcase.
Here I come, ready or not.

What’s good?

Tenebris Pictura ensures that you use all your gaming skills to progress. Reaction speeds and intuition to defeat the demons, intelligence to solve the puzzles and accuracy and skill to ensure that you don’t plummet to an early death. Checkpoints are plentiful so dying really isn’t an issue, and you can just go back to the map and try another area if you get stuck, maybe you will find a more powerful amulet that will help. The story is very good, it keeps the mystery going, and curiosity keeps the desire to play high. You have to interact with almost every aspect of Tenebris Pictura, the characters, the furniture, the scenery and the background.

A lot of thought has clearly gone into the creation of the game and the depth of gameplay is immense. The combat is fun, it brings you in at the right level to learn tactics and allows you to have a fair fight against the more powerful demons. I find that often in this type of game, the combat is frustratingly hard and will put me off very quickly. During combat not only do you take damage in the spirit form, but also the body you have exited will take damage, so leave him somewhere safe.  There is a good bit of humour on occasion as well, the cynicism of your character is quite prevalent.

What’s not so good?

Normally this section is called ‘What’s bad?’, but I can only find a few little niggles that are barely worth a mention so I felt I had to try and present a balanced perspective.

On occasion, mainly during the fights, it’s easy to run into walls. There is no camera rotation, so plan your moves wisely and don’t get into a tight space with the enemy. Fortunately, the checkpoints ensure that you just jump straight back into the action and you don’t do the same thing again.

A large room with a wooden floor and equally bad taste in wallpaper. To the left is a table and a couple of dining chairs, nice ones. They are not at the table but set in front of it as if a conversation had taken place. Three pink orbs are glowing in the room. A large bookcase is against the far wall and a couple of what looks like apothecary benches to the far left. On the right there is the only door in and out. Also hanging on the right wall is a large mirror. You are stood in front of it and your reflection seems to be a lot younger than you are.
Mirror mirror on the wall…

Graphics & Audio

Tenebris Pictura hits the nail on the head when it comes to graphics. The character movement is very fluid, not exactly lifelike, but certainly gamelike. The atmosphere is very good considering the non first person perspective of the game. The demons look as you would expect a demon to look, weird, gruesome a little bit frightening.  There were a few aspects of the scenery that I would have liked to have interacted with, but the developers clearly had other ideas.

The audio in Tenebris Pictura is generally spot on, but unfortunately, there is one really irritating feature, the noise that accompanies the text appearing on screen. There are different tones to signify a different person talking, but these are both equally irritating.


Tenebris Pictura has the ability to draw you into the game world, it’s easy to get lost in what is essentially a whole array of miniature adventures in different locations. The ease at which you can switch around is so convenient, stuck in one place, go to another and come back later. The non linear direction works so well in a game that looks like it would be linear. The brain needs to be firing on all cylinders to solve, fight and manoeuvre through the stages successfully. Once finished there is a little element of replayability, the puzzles are fun, but once you know what to do it lacks the brain power to solve. There is no difficulty option, so making the demons harder is also a no go.

Final Thoughts

Having played a fair few games recently that looked like I would enjoy, but ended up as an epic fail, I was a little sceptical. My fears were quickly alleviated though as I entered a fantastically created world full of wonders and awe. Simplistic gameplay and challenging levels awaited and I had to be on top form to progress steadily. Tenebris Pictura takes all the flavours to create the perfect blend of modern gaming. Pentadimensional had an idea, they rolled with it and the end result is as close to perfection as I have experienced for a long time.

I have no hesitation in presenting Tenebris Pictura with the Thumb Culture Platinum Award.

Disclaimer: A code was received in order to write this review.

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