Pentiment starts with an old book, the first line appearing in Latin, ‘In principio erat Verbum’. It happens to be the beginning of the book of John from the Bible and translates into, “In the beginning was the Word.” It is a sneaky and creative way to begin the game, as Pentiment is all about words and the mighty influence they contain. The small, 13-person development team at Obsidian Entertainment designed the narrative adventure of Pentiment to put that power directly in the player’s hands, for better or for worse. The result is a choose-your-own-adventure game that challenges players and their choices in ways that are sometimes maddeningly subtle. Still, it ultimately creates an enjoyable, but entirely too short, experience rarely found in this day and age.
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The very first thing a player does when starting the game is to erase that line, as well as the rest of the first page in the book – another salient visual as the player begins to write the story of Andreas Maler, a budding artist in the fictional town of Tasling during the 16th century. A sudden crisis in the town pulls Andreas deeper into the lives of everyone living and working there, and he must take action to save the life of someone close to him. The story evolves into more than just that as it goes on, but giving any other information is dipping a toe into spoiler territory. The story within Pentiment isn’t something new, but the actions and reactions based on the choices the player makes can drastically change how Andreas is viewed in Tasling. Whomever players choose to interact with and the choices they make during those interactions can have lasting effects from the beginning to the very end. Some are very subtle without seeming to have any effect until much later, while others are grandiose and change much larger aspects of the game almost immediately. Religion, politics, and love all will play various roles in choice-making and work to give players a…