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Pentiment - medieval murder mystery from Obsidian - Xbox, PC, Game Pass


BadgerFarmer
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I've only just started playing this but I can already tell it's a good one.

 

I've been flirting with Nuns and nicking heretical books. What can possibly go wrong?

 

I also just love that games like this exist and are being made and demonstrating what there can be outside the usual sci fi and fantasy.

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This game is really special. It has a lot to say about the nature of justice and mercy and there's all sorts of lovely little touches.

 

Spoiler

It's gone to much darker places than you might expect initially as well.

 

But I just love how ritualistic it all is and how customs are observed. The choice of who you eat meals with is a wonderful feature. It adds so much texture while also seeming quite organic as you develop your investigation. And feeds into that element of ritual.

 

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I've just completed the first part and feel like I've missed loads out - I guess that's how it's structured (go for lunch, miss out on conversations!) and there are some leads I never had a chance to follow up on. Tempted to play through again but the pace is just a little too slow for that. 

 

I really like how you can choose elements of your background and skills - I wonder if there are any bad choices, or whether they're mainly nice window dressing? 

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2 hours ago, Fondue said:

I've just completed the first part and feel like I've missed loads out - I guess that's how it's structured (go for lunch, miss out on conversations!) and there are some leads I never had a chance to follow up on. Tempted to play through again but the pace is just a little too slow for that. 

I really struggled with that aspect in the first part - that sense of FOMO was heightened for me partly because I loved the detail and depth of the environments and characters. But I also started to relax into it from the second part, thinking about it more as a way of forging my specific story and roleplaying my particular Andreas, and increasingly enjoyed it as a result.

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I've actually not quite finished Act 1 myself (got distracted by other things and had to renew Game Pass).

 

I'm really enjoying it but I definitely feel the FOMO thing, or maybe more precisely I'm scared of "failing". I doubt that's actually possible but what's not clear I guess is whether my role is to do something or not. Will my investigation matter? Will the game always really play out the same way in broad strokes with me just changing which pieces of it I see?

 

The result is a very slow game. One that's playing out much slower than I think they intend. For the first two in game days I basically went everywhere in every session of the day to see if something was happening. Choosing who I'm having a meal with feels like I can be making the wrong choice, particularly if the one I pick doesn't seem to have any revealing moments.

 

I don't actually think it's the game's fault so much as conditioning from elsewhere. But I wonder if they could have helped the player relax into experiencing the story they are having at a reasonable pace rather than worrying about the one they're not having and slowing it's telling to a crawl.

 

Maybe a quick/auto save system at story branch points or each session/day so I didn't feel the weight of knowing any conversation I miss 2 hours into my playtime is going to take a lot of time to re-see.

 

Maybe just less choice in some ways. I almost think each session could basically open with a "what do you want to do?" A (2 hours), B (4 hours), C (1 hour), etc. It's probably a much worse game but maybe I'd feel less need to visit every corner of the map 4 times a day.

 

 

 

And my one UI criticism... at the end of Act 1 I still have no idea which way the order of the diary entries is added. Four headings will with "Sext, Hour 13" is not helpful. And the way they're worded (which I appreciate as hints more than directions) makes it very confusing. It often feels like the first entry in the top left is the latest when in fact it's further on.

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I actually really like how you can miss things through some tasks taking time. It makes the world feel a lot more real in the sense that life is going on around you while you choose what particular task to focus on that day. The game is quite explicit in telling you what things will be time consuming, and usually mentions what you may end up being late for:

 

Spoiler

I was going to help the old widow with her chores at one point, but Andreas had very specifically thought to himself earlier that if I don't go to the Abbey he might miss the 

 

Spoiler

Examination. I very specifically didn't want to miss this as I had picked a medical background for Andreas, so this felt like it fit nicely into my role playing to have to turn the widow down. Never went back to help her either, as too many other things came up, which again felt very natural.

 

 

Basically I like how the game is purposefully trying to be less "gamey" and I think it's taken a lot of inspiration probably from Disco Elysium and games like that, but I think it might even be more successful than that game in that specific aspect.

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I guess my point is that I like that too. Or I really want to.

 

But given the company it lives in (games more generally) the game could do a better job (for me) of pushing me to be carried along more. Some way to stop me fretting about it. To tell me it's all right to just move on.

 

It does tell me what might take longer than just being a chat (i.e. if I do this I'll sleep in late tomorrow). Which oddly leads to some analysis paralysis in its own right. Trying to remember what I might miss. Who have I said I might have dinner with later and will have to disappoint.

 

I get a sense of that river that is carrying my along and to just go with it in game. And it's clear from outside the game that's the intent.

 

But it hasn't quite stopped me from taking more time than benefits the storytelling. From walking around a bit too much. From trying to talk to everyone for every titbit.

 

Like I mentioned above, I suspect a branching save system would suit me really well. The reality is that I'd almost certainly never touch it but knowing it was there, checkpointing my game, would give me the confidence to commit to a line of investigation, knowing that I could (but probably won't) come back to another option later. Of course, I realise that others probably feel this mechanism's existence would ruin the game for them in some way.

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Quote

Trying to remember what I might miss. Who have I said I might have dinner with later and will have to disappoint.


It’s working then! This is also part of the game, and has consequences that may be big or small. If you start more consciously role playing as Andreas - who’d have to make such decisions - rather than unsuccessfully min-max gaming it?

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The way they've done little expressions on the characters in this sometimes surprises in subtle ways:

 

Spoiler

I had a dialogue option that only arose from poking around in libraries getting a bit of mystic knowledge I perhaps shouldn't have. But when I picked it Andreas looked just as surprised at himself that he said it as the character I was speaking to. Shit :lol:

 

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Just finished this now and would highly recommend it to anyone who enjoys something a little sedate and philosophical. I loved how it covered the reformation and made that an integral part to its structure and plot. It’s unlike anything else I can think of. 

 

Things like this remind me of why I love games, it’s well written and, although, ultimately, it’s more like a book than an adventure game, the writing and immersion of being the character brings out a whole new dimension. 
 

How much impact my decisions actually had I’m a little dubious about but that doesn’t really matter at the time, it feels like you’re making import choices and that illusion is what makes it a really good game. 
 

I’d love more games set in a realistic medieval/early modern period. 

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And something just happened that cut very deep (warning very big spoilers for certain events):

 

Spoiler

ill Peter said it was a shame the old widow Ottilia was killed, as she knew so many stories about the old ways, more than anyone else. And here Magdalene is trying to preserve the history of Tassing but it is lost forever. Why? Because Andreas presented evidence that ended up getting her executed years ago, even if it wasn't his intention and he didn't believe it at the time. For all of Andreas panicking and trying to save all the books in the library years later, it could well be a greater source of the town's folklore knowledge through his actions was lost.

 

The fact a conversation so much later calls back to that feels deeply personal and the sense of loss is powerful. By making it a player driven pebble that cascades down through the ages and hits with full force in an otherwise unrelated and unremarkable conversation between two people crossing the generation divide.

 

Fucking brilliant.

 

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30 minutes ago, Benny said:

This is one of the best games I've ever played.

It really is great isn’t it?
 

Spoiler

Even aside from the unique setting the wonderful vertical slice through history is so well done and dovetails  nicely with the themes of history being layered on half remembered truths. I’d love something else that had a proper go at tracking your actions through time.

 

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@Benny and, of course, in my game that particular resonance couldn’t happen for an obvious reason.

 

@easilydone journey before destination. We’ll end up in the same place, and many of the “obvious” beats will be the same: simply to have a satisfying story that hits the major themes. But the specific grace notes will differ by background, choices in the three acts etc.

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I've finished it this evening basically and

 

Spoiler

It was the perfect game to play this time of year, and for so many reasons, and it dealt with themes that other games can only dream of tackling.

 

This is up there with Disco Elysium for narrative complexity and quality of writing.

 

I think what Disco Elysium did for mediation on identity, politics and the class struggle, this does for the nature of truth, faith and the value of stories and historical authenticity.

 

It's fantastic.

 

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I could honestly write a whole essay on this game I think. From all sorts of angles.

 

The religious angle, the historical angle, the fact it's a labour of love, the way the game revels in its characters and clearly loves all of them, the serenity in quiet moments, the domestic realism, the sometimes powerful scenes of simple spirituality... Or just the way it feels entirely wholesome and loving and unjudgmental and deeply, deeply empathetic.

 

Hot damn.

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I'm still thinking about the game now while I'm trying to work. I almost have to write about it at some point. It's up there with Immortality this year for surprising and thoughtful narratives delivered in ways that can only happen in games. 

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