Earlier this month, CGmagazine had the pleasure of attending a hands-off preview of Obsidian Entertainment’s upcoming game Pentinment. The hands-off live stream was hosted by game director Josh Sawyer and art director Hannah Kennedy and gave an inside look at the upcoming Medieval-inspired point-and-click adventure game.
The definition of the word Pentiment refers to an underlying image in a painting, one that is redrawn or rewritten over the original. A derivative of the Italian word pentimento can also mean repentance or regret. Regardless of how you define the word, Pentiment is a fitting name for an adventure-game set in the 16th century of upper Bavaria (modern-day Germany), during the reign of the Holy Roman Empire.
During the talk, the question of why Obsidian chose to craft a smaller adventure game instead of a roleplaying game came up. Sawyer mentioned that he had always wanted to craft a historically relevant game as he majored in history during his time in school. The timing for Pentiment was perfect as the game would fit with Microsoft’s Game Pass portfolio.
“…the prospect of playing as the painter Andreas quickly becomes as appealing as playing as a pirate or a pair of anthropomorphic freelance police officers.”
Additionally, despite primarily being a point-and-click adventure game, Saywer promises Pentiment will feature light RPG mechanics, such as branching dialogue options and the ability to shape the game’s protagonist Andreas in ways reminiscent of more traditional roleplaying games. In terms of plot, Pentiment follows Andreas, a painter in a fictional abbey in the 16h century, during the time of the Reformation, specifically when people started to adopt a Copernican heliocentrism viewpoint or the belief that planets orbited the sun.
Of course, this shift towards a more scientific viewpoint adds to the already tumultuous and unstable landscape of the 16th century. With clashes in power and social unrest going rampant, the world of Pentiment will seemingly be in constant flux. Pentiment also happens to be set during a time when the printing press became more widely adopted. A departure from a mostly secular activity to something adopted by the masses, paired with fading monasteries specializing in illuminated manuscripts, the prospect of playing as the painter Andreas quickly becomes as appealing as playing as a pirate or a pair of anthropomorphic freelance police officers.
“Individual letters seemingly bleed into existence before drying off and becoming set, imparting Pentiment with a convincingly authentic and distinct style.”
This mix of ideologies, lifestyles and technologies comes through in the aesthetics of Pentiment and not just in its woodblock/Guild of Saint Luke-inspired art. Both Sawyer and Kennedy mention Pentiment’s attention to more minor details, such as the nuance between the typefaces used between character dialogue boxes, which often shift from a handwritten gothic-inspired look to a more mechanical, printed aesthetic, indicative of the changes of the times.
Individual letters seemingly bleed into existence before drying off and becoming set, imparting Pentiment with a convincingly authentic and distinct style. Thankfully, those worried about legibility with such an eclectic mix of typefaces can rest assured as Pentiment will also feature accessibility options that forgo the fancy lettering and make the game as legible as possible.
There is a lot more I want to learn about Pentiment, but that will have to wait for when the game launches later this November. For now, if there is one thing I can say with certainty, it is that Pentiment seemingly lives up to its namesake, incorporating old-world aesthetics and marrying them with contemporary techniques in what is sure to be a unique take on the adventure game genre.