Pentiment Review

Dan Webb

From the studio that brought you Fallout: New Vegas, Pillars of Eternity, South Park: The Stick of Truth, The Outer Worlds, and Alpha Protocol – all rather deep and involving RPGs – comes Pentiment, a game so far from those aforementioned games, that you we’re surprised that developer Obsidian Entertainment didn’t experience whiplash from the transition.


Pentiment certainly looks unique.

In short, Pentiment is an adventure title, in a similar vein to Disco Elysium, wherein you play Anders Maler, an artist who finds himself at the centre of a murder mystery in the mountain town of Tassing. A town where religion, poverty and social unrest battle against one another in the hearts and minds of its inhabitants.

Pentiment is a game that has you talking to the local townfolk, following clues, and bounding headlong into the unknown, all in an effort to solve a complex whodunnit. The beauty of Pentiment is that it’s your story, and the world feels like it really reacts to you and your decisions. You choose Maler’s background, his strengths, and, of course, his conversation choices, all of which shape the course of your investigation. It’s a game of mystery, of persuasion, of dialogue checks, but more importantly, Pentiment is a game brimming with charm.

It’s Pentiment’s presentation that will worm its way into the consciousness of most players. You’re effectively playing a living medieval tapestry or woodcutting, and everything from how the conversation text is displayed on-screen and how the pages of the story change in the menus, to the transition screens and the art-style conspire to help you buy into what Obsidian is attempting to deliver.


Pentiment’s murder mystery is fascinating ride, doubling down on the impact of your choices and their ensuing consequences. So much so that one small, seemingly innocuous choice can unexpectedly barrel out of control, before you know it. It’s a world in which it’s hard to decipher who or what is right and wrong. It’s a game jam packed with shades of grey, and, as such, it’s often hard to know what is the right choice - it’s a genuine head-scratcher from start to finish. A head-scratcher that perhaps doesn’t offer enough closure at certain points throughout, but nonetheless offers a fascinating, compelling jaunt into 1500s Bavaria.

Perhaps Pentiment’s biggest problem is its pacing - so much so that I was close to walking away due to a glacial opening section. I went into Pentiment completely cold, not really knowing what the game was trying to achieve, and the opening did nothing to ingratiate me. Thankfully, patience is a virtue, and I highly recommend you stick with it. Once the murder mystery gets into full flow, Obsidian’s rich tapestry starts to drag you to the edge of your seat, whether you like it or not.


We're on a boat. Ship. Whatever.

It’s not just a slow start that form part of Pentiment’s issues with pacing. The latter portions of the game have even more pacing issues of their own. Act 3 starts with an interminable crawl until things start to get remotely interesting again, and the truth is, had Pentiment not already got its hooks into me, I could have walked away at that point, too. But, alas, I wanted closure on the turmoil and mystery that had shrouded the Bavarian town of Tassing, and I was willing to see it through to the bitter end.

While Pentiment doesn’t have the same sort of depth or ingenuity as Disco Elysium, and definitely suffers from a few pacing issues, it is nevertheless a hugely impressive game. A murder mystery that will have you guessing and second-guessing every tiny step you make. One that will have you puzzled from start to finish. And, ultimately, it's a game that is definitely more than worthy of your time.

Pentiment

Pentiment is an incredibly enchanting adventure game that really is like no other. It doesn’t quite have the same depth and ingenuity that Disco Elysium has, but what it lacks in depth, it more than makes up for in charm. After a slow start, this murder mystery really becomes the talk of the town.

Form widget
80%
Audio
70%

No voice acting, a lot of pen scratching, and mostly ambient background noise. When Obsidian does lean on an original score, it’s fantastic, but these moments are few and far between.

Visuals
90%

It’s like playing a woven medieval tapestry. Vibrant, colourful and full of so much charm.

Playability
80%

It’s a relatively simple game in terms of playability – you move Andreas, and you click on icons. That’s it, but it doesn’t need to be anything more than that.

Delivery
80%

A wonderfully presented murder mystery of sorts that after its slow start, will truly have you on the edge of your seat, desperate to know how it finishes. Tassing is a town whose locals become a part of the tapestry itself, as well as the situations they find themselves in.

Achievements
70%

Lots of choice and consequence achievements, which are great, but it does mean you’re going to have to play a number of times through to get every single one. Which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but it’s nothing to praise either.

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