Pentiment is an odd game to review. I had no idea going in what kind of game it was. Solely based on a pretty sweet box art image and some positive buzz on Twitter I decided to give it a download. (I mean look at the box art. That dude’s head is ON FIRE)
It’s also hard to describe what it is. It’s a medieval mystery? A late Rennasiance detective story? A religious cover-up? I can’t explain. I was also stuck most of the time wondering “Is this fiction? Or based on actual events?” That both made it a little hard to believe and also a little exciting.
I would not be surprised to hear that many of the reviewers that scored the game high only played the first few hours and thought “yep, that’s a 10 out of 10!” I, too, was sucked in to the first act of the game. I was caught up in what I was playing. Did I make the right choices? I accused multiple people of being criminals and sentenced them to death (directly and through actions). Did they deserve it?
After the first act ended, it felt like the game had a good, but ambiguous (and short!), ending. I had no idea, no indication that it was the first of multiple parts. I thought my game began and ended with Andreas Maler’s story. Not so.
I bounced off the game for a while, somewhere in the third act. It was fine, the story was moving along at a decent pace but I just wasn’t in love with it. Ultimately I finished the game in a car, driving to NYC, on my iPad. These are not ideal conditions but I had wanted to try out Cloud Gaming from a mobile device for a long time and since I couldn’t be playing Tears of the Kingdom I figured Pentiment on an iPad, tethered to my phone, was the next best thing.
With my iPad jittering through frames provided by my poor phone as a hot spot, I played through the last 45 minutes (I hadn’t realized how close to the end I was) on a touch screen. Playing through the Cloud on the iPad is probably worth another post, but poor gaming experience matched how disappointing the end of Pentiment was. The 3rd act’s choices have less consequences (no one died by my actions) but raised just as many “did I make the right choices” doubts I had throughout the rest of the game. Unsatisfying.
Yes, the game wrapped up the dangling storylines with room for interpreting it how you’d like, but as a completionist who has to exhaust all dialog options and inspect every point of interest, Pentiment was not made for me.