Advance Pentiment: the new Obsidian game (The Outer Worlds, Star Wars KOTOR) has everything to be a success
Pentiment is Obsidian’s “indie” project, a studio to which we owe some Western RPG nuggets (Pillars of Eternity, Fallout New Vegas, among others). Developed by 12 people, this uniquely styled medieval mystery game was covered for 30 minutes at Gamescom. We would have liked to have spent 4 times as much time there.
Studio now under Microsoft, Obsidian is working on his great project Avowed, an RPG in subjective vision in the universe of Pillars of Eternity. But on top of that, a small team was formed around Josh Sawyer (Fallout New Vegas writer) to bring Pentiment to the world. Less technically ambitious, the title is intended to be a multi-branching investigative game, the tone of which is inspired by the film Le Nom de Rose: in a 16th-century Benedictine abbey, a murder has been committed. As Andreas Maler, a resident master artist, you must solve this crime that seems to have been committed by a local monk.
make your own detective
On the occasion of Gamescom, we were able to discover the beginning of the game and, in particular, the creation of the personality of Andreas. Please note that this is not an RPG: there is no character sheet to create, class or skill points to distribute. To define the contours of the detective, we must answer a questionnaire about his origins or his studies: did he follow a course in astronomy, theology or medicine? Is he the outgoing type, a great speaker, or a bookworm? Does he have notions of Italian or Germanic languages? During the first few minutes, we take the time to shape a character whose character and knowledge will, from what we’ve seen, have a real impact on the course of the story.
Because, in addition to its unique graphic style (which can be discouraging, but which has the merit of differentiating itself from the rest of the production), it is precisely the multiple possibilities and plot branches that impressed us. most in penitence. From the beginning of the investigation, Andreas unfolds several clues, which we are free to follow or not: are we going to interrogate the victim’s widow first? Shall we follow the local blacksmith, who seems to have things to blame himself for? Or do we go directly to the abbey to inspect the body and try to determine the cause of death?
From the outset we are offered 4 or 5 possibilities, knowing that some choices will override others (going to the spinning mill will prevent you from inspecting the body, for example, because someone else will have done it). Pentiment’s replayability therefore seems huge.
The stage branches off in all directions
The proof is: we were able to go through the demo twice (which stops at the end of the first day of research) taking completely different paths and creating a different “Andreas”. The experience, then, has nothing to do, on the one hand, with a formal autopsy (well, for the 16th century) that ends with the suspicious appearance of a nobleman who wants to inspect the body, and on the other hand, with the spinning of the blacksmith who led us to the discovery of an isolated stele in the forest, evoking a mysterious accidental death.
And beyond the different paths to follow, the configuration of Andreas’s personality offers very different possibilities. Well in medicine, he will notice certain details on the victim’s body. Gifted in the Germanic language, he will more easily understand a hidden sentence. If he wants him to be a good speaker, then he will have a better ability to make a suspect talk. In 30 minutes, the impression of having touched only the interaction possibilities (which almost only goes through the dialogue) turned out to be very frustrating and particularly exciting for the future.
A frankly striking graphic style
In terms of gameplay, Pentiment promises to be very accessible, leaning mostly on its branching narrative and multiple-choice dialogue. However, small QTEs can intervene, such as when you have to quietly chase an insect while hiding in a tree trunk to spy on a suspect.
The artistic direction of Pentiment is, as we have already said, unique in its kind, with a style that imitates the painting of the 16th century, but which nevertheless offers detailed decorations and well-animated characters, in coherence with the graphic style and whose multiple reactions favor attachment. And it goes further, with different fonts depending on the type of characters that are expressed (monks will not have the same font as nobles or peasants, for example), with even erasing some words for an NPC whose language would be approximate. In short, he is charming, full of good ideas and the writing seems to be up to the task. We are very, very excited.
Pentiment enchanted us for 30 short minutes and we had only one wish: to stay in the evidence room to discover all the possibilities seen during the beginning of the investigation. The detective plot seems solid, the visual style immediately catches the eye, but it is above all the many possible branches, shaped by the personality of the main character, that have seduced us. This “small” Obisidan project could therefore be one of the best games of this end of the year. As a reminder, Pentiment is due out on November 15 on Xbox Series X/S, Xbox One, and PC. The game will be offered on the Gamepass.
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