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Pentiment | The woman's name

1 Comment
Nov 15 - 06:56, by Jed7

Pentiment | The woman's name Like all people who "love history," what I really love is reading three lines of a random article on Wikipedia or watching a YouTube summary of famous battles while on the toilet. But for Obsidian, "loving history" means creating an entire, meticulous game about life in a Bavarian village in the 16th century. That's a bit narrow, but then again, we don't all have to love history in the same way...

I was quite intimidated by Pentiment, an investigation game (!) with graphics inspired by medieval manuscripts (!!) where you wander around a village in Bavaria (!!!) in the year 1518 (!!!!) and come across hermetic terms like "scriptorium", "circulator" and "perchten" (!!!!!). But don't worry, underneath its bizarre exterior, Pentiment is in fact a rather unconfusing game. First of all, it is handled like a point & click game, in the sense that you move a hero in 2D sceneries seen from the side, you click on some elements of the scenery and you choose the exact line to give from time to time.

Choosing our character's background unlocks access to special dialog options later on.

Above all, Pentiment does not propel us with a big kick into its tarabiscot era by shouting "THIS... IS... Holy Roman Empire! Obsidian has come a long way since Pillars "Assumption" of Eternity and now knows how to distill information in small doses, via dialogues that are always very concise or clickable words that reveal a short explanation. Besides, the story starts simply enough: you play as an artist hired by an abbey to create a beautiful illumination, and the game stays for a while on this simple idea, the time it takes for you to get your bearings in the village where you rent a room and to get familiar with the habits and customs of the monks you meet in the monastery. Then, of course, someone is savagely murdered.

The Crossroads of the Scrolls. I'll be honest: before I started the game, "learning about the daily life of the Bavarian rural population at the dawn of the 16th century" was not in my top ten evenings. But now, it's definitely getting closer. Throughout the fifteen hours (which is a lot) that I played, I was fascinated by the time period in which Pentiment takes place. I felt immersed in the heart of a pivotal era, torn by the sulphurous reformation of the Church wanted by Martin Luther, the peasants' revolts that were brewing and the touching gradual disappearance of the copyist monks, made obsolete by the spread of the printing press.

The immersion owes a lot to Pentiment's wonderful graphics, which evoke the illustrations of medieval manuscripts and push this idea to the limit, noting the quests on a scroll and allowing us to zoom out at any time to see the game screen embedded in a pretty grimoire. It's not necessarily sublime, but there are finds, an attention to visual detail and a sense of finish that force respect and even enrich the game mechanics, like with these fonts that change according to who we're talking to (for example, a gothic script for monks).

The in-game encyclopedia allows you to refresh your memory with a click.

Did you lose 3 points of visual acuity trying to decipher the fonts in Asterix and the Goths when you were 11 years old? Don't worry, Pentiment shouldn't make it worse. Personally, I found all the fonts quite legible but otherwise, there are plenty of settings to change the text size and contrast, or just replace everything with some kind of good old Arial font.
On the other side of the grimoire. All of this is wrapped up in a rather tasty and well-crafted investigation, with many twists and turns that I won't give away. So yes, moving around and reading dialogues until you have enough information to accuse someone may seem a bit conventional; we are certainly not in a new kind of investigation game like Her Story or Return of the Obra Dinn. But Obsidian has managed to make the investigation process rather challenging by limiting our options, as triggering some important dialogues makes the time pass. And since you only have a few days to investigate, it makes for some tough choices since you can't talk to everyone to reach your verdict. Is it better to attend the autopsy or to search for the murder weapon? Should we interview a person who knew the victim well, or another person who makes a good suspect? These choices are all the more difficult because at the end of the investigation, there is no "good" or "bad" ending: we will have just incriminated someone and the game, in an approach as radical as it is brilliant, will never tell us if we have convicted the real culprit or a poor innocent.

In addition to the village, you can explore the abbey in its entirety.

There's a little more to Pentiment than this investigation - the investigation is only the first act of the game - but not much more. Don't buy it thinking you're dealing with Obsidian's big new RPG. Apart from a few background choices for our hero - scoundrel, scholar, healer, etc. - Apart from a few background choices for our hero - scoundrel, scholar, healer, etc. - which are useful during some dialogues, we don't have a huge hold on the course of the conversations or on the story, which is actually intended by the studio and not at all annoying. No, if I wanted to nitpick, I would say that the real flaw of the game is its rather peaceful atmosphere: with its always polite peasants, puzzle mini-games and incidents of lost sheep, Pentiment seemed to me in the long run a bit wise, filled to the brim with "God bless you" and "I pray you" without many hilarious or explosive moments. A minor and forgettable concern for a game that is so impressive in its content and form.

My opinion : What do you think of it ?

A tortuous investigation, dark secrets, original and carefully crafted graphics: despite a few pacing issues, Pentiment is a very successful investigation game, which offers an immersive dive into a little-known part of Europe's past. History-geography teachers will love it; normal people will too.

Genre: Investigation
Developer: Obsidian (USA)
Publisher: Microsoft
Available Platforms: Windows, Xbox One/Series
Test platform: Windows
Download: 10 GB
Release Date: 11/15/2022
Price : 20

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by Jed7 Dec 06 - 08:42

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