Pentiment Review: An Incredible And Informative Detective Thriller

At first sight, penance It felt like a game that wouldn’t necessarily interest me. I’m not much into medieval European history, nor am I interested in the text-based game that penance thrives. That being said, I’m glad I found it. penance it’s certainly the biggest surprise of 2022 so far, but I can imagine many who don’t care about this for one reason or another. I would let this one go. In short, don’t do it. Whether it’s a versatile and engaging lead, or an intriguing cast of supporting characters, penance finds strength upon strength in telling a deeply involved plot of murder and deceit, set against the backdrop of 16th-century Bavaria. It’s also a fantastic history lesson, wrapping many of its historical accuracies in accessible, detailed explanations to add context and overall world-building. While it doesn’t feel much like a traditional video game in terms of mechanics, the developer obsidian entertainment You have created a story that I will not soon forget.

A mystery to solve

Players take control of the protagonist Andreas Maler, a brainy aspiring artist who comes to the Bavarian town of Tassing to work in the scriptorium (place for writing) of the nearby Kiersau Abbey. After a brief introduction to the world around him and the supporting characters, Andreas plunges into the depths of a murder mystery that inadvertently unearths old secrets the city would rather leave intact. You will have the opportunity to choose Andreas’s background early on, helping you with certain traits and knowledge to use in important conversations. While this rarely leads the story in multiple directions, more the result of a conversation, there is no doubt that penance tells a fantastic story that sets a steady pace, especially once it gets going.

penance It takes a fair amount of time to build that optimal pace, but you do it with confidence and intention. Once things get going, he’ll understand the ins and outs of the town and the supporting characters, which will naturally help him in his investigation. Andreas is also a fascinating character who seems to adapt to various situations over a long period of time. As he will be able to choose his backstory, he will also be able to define his traits and interests, even down to what studies he had in college. This will unlock new dialogue options, particularly when referring to certain ideas and text. Throughout the 15-20 hour story, emotional depth builds through every conversation and day spent with Andreas. As his personal involvement in this investigation grows, the city’s contribution grows with him, taking the end result to a place I admit I didn’t choose, shaking off my false sense of confidence and leaving me questioning my detective skills.

The tools of the trade

In terms of gameplay, penance You’ll spend most of your time in a text-based conversation, where you’ll interact with various townspeople to gain information. You will often need to choose your questions and answers from a set of predetermined options, but very wisely, as each choice yields mixed results in the quality of the information provided and the impending effect on the relationship in question, whether friend or stranger. . He is often encouraged to draw on prior knowledge and conversations to further his investigation as he slowly peels back layers of the truth.

Beyond this, you will also have the opportunity to complete various puzzles to uncover clues. While they aren’t necessarily challenging, they are in fact cloaked in the essence of the general enemy; weather. Whether it’s deciphering pieces of art or combining the texts of various books to piece together words and clues, everything you do in penance It will come at the cost of the hours of a day. The day will progress no matter what you do, which means you will most likely have to continue with your initial choices in the hope that they provide the answers you want, or at least push you further in the right direction. However, in my early playthrough, I felt like I’d successfully progressed, but I’m already curious to engage in a second round just to see where else the mystery might have led.

Beyond the game and the story, penance prides itself on historical accuracy. With each conversation, many words will be underlined or written in red. On your Xbox controller, you’ll be able to press the View button to access the glossary, which gives you an instant explanation of every word, name, and term in question. If you’re like me and don’t really understand 16th century Bavarian culture, penance does a great job of providing simplistic explanations that are consistently relevant to the story, serving as an important tool, particularly early in the narrative.

Various citizens are also represented based on their handwriting and font style, although this layout option can be turned off for easier reading. Villagers and common folk will display a grittier scribble, making it a bit harder to read, while more distinguished individuals such as priests and other educated characters will display a bolder, neater text style. Villagers will also make mistakes more frequently while speaking, having to back off at the end of a sentence as their mistakes are corrected on the fly. Religious references like God and the name of Jesus Christ are written last and in red, yet another discovery that penance had caught my attention, while various conversations about tales and stories from different lands and battles are those that were born or shared in this particular time period. These small adjustments and inclusions go a long way to not only developing the narrative of penance, but allowing the world to feel lived in.

Tell me a story

Visually, penance it is a joy to behold. It’s not particularly flashy in any noticeable way, but it does serve to bring out the artistic qualities of the period. The minimalist approach rarely falters when it comes to unique character designs and lavish settings, particularly in Kiersau Abbey. The authentic soundtrack also helps add a layer of immersion to the experience, which is no easy feat given the complete lack of dialogue to accompany it. The overall dialogue is exceptional, and while no two conversations ever feel the same, they also feel equally important in building the world or certain characters, leaving no moment wasted. but as good as penance that is, I feel that it is based on certain interests to enjoy it to the fullest. As short and quick as most of the conversations are, chances are you’ll find yourself reading through mountains of text, making it feel more like an interactive thriller rather than a more traditional video game.

final thoughts

penance is without a doubt the biggest surprise of 2022. I was initially drawn in with an intriguing story of murder and deceit, with a versatile and memorable protagonist to boot. The town of Tassing is drenched in atmosphere and conversations, however robust and varied, lend themselves to a great help of historical accuracy or focused progression. Whether it’s navigating the city, solving puzzles, and earning clues, both Andreas and the players must wrestle with the concept of time, finally accepting that there are only so many hours in a day. While the 15-20 narrative rarely sticks around longer than expected, I have no doubt that a second playthrough will result in newer, but equally satisfying results.


Reflexes: Incredible and engaging narrative; Versatile protagonist; historical accuracy
Negatives: The game mechanics are quite simplistic.
Developer: obsidian entertainment
Editor: Xbox game studios
Platforms: Xbox Series X/S, Xbox One, Windows PC
Available: Now

Hotfix done on Xbox Series X with publisher-provided preview code.

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