Pentiment is the story about a traveling artist, who finds himself in the midst of murders, conspiracies and scandals in the Bavarian Alps. With Europe in turmoil as religion and politics clash at every turn, it is up to you to investigate these mysteries and seek out justice for the people. The narrative is quite intriguing. It dives deep into the control of the church in the 1500s. And the use and misuse of power by those in authority is a major theme.
Taking on the role of the aforementioned artist, Andreas Maler, you are tasked with finding the truth behind the many strange events that occur throughout the game, with opposition facing you every step of the way. How you interact with different people as well as what you do with the limited time available to you, all affect the outcome of each event, as well as can help build or break relationships. In Pentiment, your choices really do matter. Certain actions and comments will be remembered by those involved, which could ultimately help or derail your investigations.
The Mysterious World of Pentiment
The writing surrounding these mysteries is fantastic. The character dialogue in these moments in particular being really intriguing. However, a major issue with the narrative is that these events, which are the central to the plot, don’t start occurring till a few hours in. This wouldn’t be such a big deal if the story leading up to these events was interesting. Unfortunately, it starts off as a “day in the life” of an artist working for the church. It has seemingly no real purpose to the dialogue, aside from a few meaningless exchanges between characters.
Now I am aware that it is commonplace for a narrative to have to be set up before getting to the major plot points. However, the setup still needs to be at least somewhat interesting. And in the case of Pentiment, it really isn’t! But I am glad that I pushed through the early game, because it really does become much more intriguing when the first mystery sets in!
Pentiment is a Playable Storybook?
The gameplay in Pentiment is very simplistic. Most of your time in this game will be spent choosing between dialogue options, with a small amount of exploration and investigation elements sprinkled in for good measure. Whilst travelling around town, you may also come across the occasional minigame. But these amount to nothing more than just another way to just introduce more dialogue.
This is especially obvious, when it comes to meal times throughout. You can choose to have a meal with many different people around town. You can use that time to gather further information for an ongoing investigation. As to how the minigame aspect plays into this, occasionally in amidst the conversation, you will be prompted to select a bit of food on your plate to eat, and… that is it. Most of the minigames, like this one, are very run-of-the-mill and feel quite unnecessary. I honestly would have preferred to just have the conversation going without the need of these pointless additions.
Pentiment’s Stunning Art Style
Admittedly, Pentiment’s storybook art style is quite charming at first. The simple character animations during interactions with each other as well as their facial expressions work really well for this type of game. Also, the fact that the dialogue text appears with an etching sound in the background, helps give that feeling that it is being written as you read it. This title really does often feel like a playable storybook. However, there is a downside to this as well, as these animations look really stiff whilst traversing around town. The title can also feel quite slow, due to how sluggish Andreas’ movements are. This can slow the game right down to a crawl at times. As often you will have to travel to opposite sides of the map repeatedly to complete certain objectives.
At its best, the narrative in Pentiment is really intriguing, especially because it takes your actions to account for the outcome. Unfortunately, on the flip side of this, there are many dry moments throughout the game. As well as a long uninteresting slog of an introduction. If you have the time to spare, and don’t mind sifting through some meaningless dialogue to get to the good bit, then sure give it a go. Otherwise, maybe give this one a miss!
By Samuel Incze
Whilst Pentiment promises to give players a fascinating narrative that takes all choices and actions into account, whilst exploring the themes of Politics and Religion in Europe in the 1500s, the uninteresting introduction, as well as the countless meaningless interactions throughout the title, makes it feel much too long for what it is trying to achieve. There is an interesting plot to uncover here, but you will have to sift through quite a few hours worth of tedious dialogue with the occasional unnecessary minigame thrown in for ‘good’ measure.
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