During the 2022 Xbox & Bethesda Showcase, Obsidian Entertainment gave the world a shock, at least for those who don’t tend to pay attention to leaks and rumors. Their next release will not be their fantasy RPG Avowed, or The Outer Worlds 2, both of which had been previously revealed. Instead it will be this just-announced smaller-scale game titled Pentiment, a narrative-driven adventure set in the 16th century, that follows a painter who gets wrapped up in investigating a series of murders. This game is slated to come out in November 2022, for Xbox platforms and PC. It will of course be available on day one on Game Pass.
If you’re not quite sure why so many people are excited about this, besides its strikingly unique art style, the answer likely lies with the studio behind it. Obsidian Entertainment, purchased by Microsoft in 2018, has a rare, almost spotless, track record of releasing quality games, with a particular knack for dialogue-choosing story games. They first earned large notoriety with 2010’s Fallout: New Vegas, and continued receiving praise from fans with their 2014 game, South Park: The Stick of Truth. One of Obsidian’s most recent games, 2019’s The Outer Worlds, was nominated for several Game Awards, such as Best Narrative, Best RPG, and Game of the Year.
One of the most interesting things stated in the developer interview for this game, part of the extended Xbox Games Showcase on June 14th, 2022, was that the game’s story will take place over 25 years. That’s definitely something that sparks curiosity. Most games that span across a large number of years usually just have a long time jump in the middle, dividing the game into distinct sections. How Pentiment will tackle its sprawling narrative is still not clear. However, marketing the story with its 25-year length does suggest the passage of time is something that will occur more gradually, something you’ll feel as it happens, as opposed to large and vacant time jumps.
Furthermore, lead designer, Josh Sawyer specifically proclaimed his desire to “portray a community that changed over time, which meant that characters are changing over time.” This also suggests the narrative will have a specific closed-off setting, likely what appears in the trailer to be a small rural town. Art director Hannah Kennedy expressed having an emotional reaction to a character the player meets as a four-year-old, who then ends up getting married years later in the game.
More relevant information was relayed in an interview Sawyer did with IGN, where he stated “One of the key things in the game is that we do not ever definitively tell you, canonically, [who] the murderer [is]. You have to investigate, find as much evidence as you can… You are basically deciding who’s going to pay for the crime.” Many positives can be inferred from this quote. A lot of narrative mystery games tend to lead you toward what the correct answer is, which leaves little room for variety. It appears this game will provide you with all the available evidence and will let you make the choice you think is best, even if it isn’t the correct one. This also means the story will have to adjust from there, so there will potentially be multiple iterating variations. There are definitely reasons to get excited for Pentiment, and the best part is, that there are less than 6 months of wait time till release.
Pentiment is expected to release in November 2022, for Xbox Series X/S and PC.