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Pentiment Review – A Medieval Murder Mystery to Die For

Repentance on PC

Pentiment is one of the most unique games I have had the privilege of playing. It’s a story-driven game set in medieval Europe, offering low-stress, high-stakes games where every single decision you make counts. In fact, there are so many different choices and ways to play that I’d bet no two Pentiment players will ever have exactly the same experience. If you liked DIY adventure books as a kid, you will definitely love Pentiment.

In Pentiment you play Andreas Maler, an aspiring artist. Andreas takes his time to complete his artistic masterpiece while completing commissioned work with the monks at Kiersau Monastery, one of Europe’s few remaining scriptoria.

Your job is to guide him through his life in the village of Tassing, chatting with the locals, eating with friends and working on his art. Every morning Andreas wakes up and you lead him through the village to the abbey where he works, gossiping with the villagers along the way.

Photo credit: Xbox Game Studios via Twinfinite

Between shifts in the scriptorium, Andreas is always looking for someone to eat, and the villagers are only too happy to join him. Andreas’ days in Tassing are peaceful, predictable and idyllic until a murder at the abbey rocks the town and one of his friends becomes the prime suspect.

Pentiment is not like other RPGs you may have played. This is not an Elder Scrolls style fantasy adventure game. There are no epic battles, magic weapons, or healing potions. The game is entirely based on stories, like the adventure books you might have read as a kid.

Most of Pentiment plays out through conversations with villagers, visitors, and monks, but there are plenty of mini-games to keep things interesting. You can eat medieval fare while listening to local gossip and solving puzzles to find clues that will help solve the murder and free Andreas’ friend.

Some minigames in Pentiment are more difficult than others.
Photo credit: Xbox Game Studios via Twinfinite

Some, like the mealtime mini-games, are easy and low-stakes. Others, like the occult cipher in Act I, are more challenging and require a bit more concentration. But nothing about Pentiment is really hard (except maybe the choices). There are plenty of clues to guide you through even the more complex puzzles, making Pentiment ideal for both novice and experienced players.

You quickly realize that every word you say and every decision you make in Pentiment matters. You decide who Andreas is – where he comes from, what he has been doing for the last few years and whether he is hardworking, pious or stubborn. These choices affect various elements of the game, like things he can say in conversations and even languages ​​he can speak and understand.

Your friends and neighbors remember what you tell them, and the choices you make early in the game may make things easier or harder for you later.

You decide who Andreas is in Pentiment, but choose wisely.
Photo Credit: Xbox Game Studios via Pentiment

For example, you may need to convince a villager to share information with you. If you’ve been snappy with that villager, they probably won’t be very willing to help you when you need it. In Pentiment, you only get one chance to make a good first impression, so think carefully about your decisions and conversations.

You also don’t have all the time in the world to do everything you want to do. For example, in the first act, the archdeacon is out investigating the murder and you have a limited amount of time to gather all the clues you can find. If you choose to investigate one clue, you won’t have time to investigate another, so don’t dally.

There’s no canon killer in Pentiment, meaning there’s no way of ever knowing if you got it ‘right’ or ‘wrong’. I admit, that frustrated me a bit at first. I’ve always been the kid who flips backwards through the Choose Your Own Adventure books to see what would have happened if I had made a different choice, and in Pentiment there’s just no way to do that.

Anything you say in pentiment can come back to bite you later.
Photo credit: Xbox Game Studios via Twinfinite

Sure, you could go back and play all over again. But with the large number of decisions you make for Andreas in a single day, it would be nearly impossible to accurately trace your footsteps. With Pentiment you make your decisions and then you have to live with them.

But that’s the beauty of Pentiment. There is no right or wrong answer, no winning or losing. It’s about making choices and watching the story unfold as a result. Unlike other games that require a certain level of perfectionism, Pentiment requires you to relinquish control and let the story take you where it wants to go.

Pentiment’s medieval art style is delightfully meta. The entire game world is drawn in the same style in which Andreas and the other monks work. The quests in your journal are written in medieval script, and the hand-drawn maps are absolutely beautiful.

Every part of Pentiment is drawn in the same beautiful medieval style.
Photo credit: Xbox Game Studios via Twinfinite

Different villagers have different fonts in their speech bubbles, ranging from fancy fonts to simple fonts. However, you can choose simpler fonts in the accessibility settings, which is nice if you’re squinting at calligraphy.

The way Pentiment handles in-game hints is particularly unique. Whenever a character, location, or other clue appears in a conversation, you can open the clue menu. The camera zooms out to reveal a manuscript page with a note pointing to a still of the conversation. I love how immersive the hints feature is that fully immerses you in the medieval game world.

Pentiment is the interactive adventure story I’ve been waiting for my whole life. I love that I can immerse myself in the game world without having to worry about button-push combat or jump scares. It’s wonderfully engaging without being shockingly harsh and I love every minute of it.

I’ve never played anything like Pentiment before, but I really hope to get back to it soon.

Twinfinite Editors Choice Award

Review of the Pentiment Critics

Reviewer: Juniper Finch | Forgive: The Editor’s Choice | Copy provided by the publisher.