Quill Power Review – Quill Power
The best stories in video games manage to combine story, art, and gameplay in a way that elevates all three. Pentiment, the latest production from Obsidian Entertainment, is a perfect example of this, telling a profound, complex story of religion, truth, and history in the form of a book that the player experiences as it written. While there are some inconsistent pacing, it’s a must-play for fans of adventure games.
Pentiment tells the story of traveling artist Andreas Maler and his time in Tassing, a fictional town in the countryside of the Holy Roman Empire, in 1518. While Andreas’ usual routine is Whether he’s working on his masterpiece or copying one of the local abbey’s manuscripts, he’s quickly drawn into a series of local mysteries that he solves on his own.
Andreas can be customized with different backgrounds and personality traits to unlock different dialogue options. My Andreas is a theological scholar with a history of hedonism, but someone else may have studied law and spent time enjoying nature. The dialogue options these different wallpapers unlock are generally insignificant, but it’s nice to have a sense of control over your conversations since they make up the bulk of the game.
Pentiment tells its story through three stages, two of which involve investigating murders. Between the high stakes and the huge accusations, these murder mysteries are when the game reaches its zenith. There’s only so much time to solve the case, but important actions like dining with a suspect or searching for abandoned ruins will push you through the day, meaning you only have a limited number of opportunities. to find out the truth. I was eager to learn as much as possible, but had more clues than time to follow them. While many murder mysteries end with a satisfactory ending, Pentiment forces you to choose the culprit with the information you have and suffer the consequences of accusing them.
It’s not immediately clear if you made the correct decision, but it’s clear how the town feels about it. Accuse a brother of the monastery, and the church is outraged when you return; accuse a beloved member of the townsfolk, and the people of Tassing may not admire you as they once did. These consequences are part of what makes Pentiment’s story so influential to me. Each action is years after the last, and the impact of your choices in the previous chapter is always significant. The town of Tassing also changed a lot; Children are born and grow into adults, old people age and die, and townspeople adapt and change. The town is arguably more of a protagonist than Andreas.
Perhaps the strongest part of Pentiment is that it adheres to its core themes. This is a game about passing on stories from generation to generation and how the truth can be distorted over time, for better or for worse. Rumor has it that Tassing harbors ghosts, conspiracies and a dark history, but the only source of this information are stories from locals and each has different views on what is right and wrong. what not. Andreas’ quest for truth is presented as a story copied into a book, which is very fitting. Like the player, he is trying to record the whole truth once and for all.
This book-like aesthetic is one of the Pentiment’s most captivating qualities. It starts from the first moments of a new save, where you turn the pages of an old book to write this new book. The characters and their surroundings are depicted as beautifully illustrated, characteristic of the era. The menu is also a book, complete with a glossary to help players fill in all the historical terms they may not be familiar with. You can press a button whenever one of these terms appears to see their definitions scrawled in the margins of the game playbook.
The dialogue also maintains the aesthetic of a storybook. You won’t hear a voiceover; instead, the font changes depending on the social status or occupation of the character. Andreas speaks in a neat but complex font, where each letter is traced, filled in, and outlined. Ordinary townspeople spoke in simple cursive, the printer and his family spoke in blocks of printed text, and the monastic brothers spoke in ornate handwriting that looked like inscription on a Roman statue. And as a reminder that players are witnessing the creation of the book firsthand, dialogue is sometimes written with a typo or two that the book’s invisible author quickly erases. . Fonts are a great effective way to infuse personality into Tassing’s characters, but if you have trouble reading cursive, they can be disabled in the settings in favor of “easy” fonts. read”.
While Pentiment’s presentation of the story is beautiful, its pacing is a bit unpredictable. I love the parts with the murder mystery, but the parts without them feel slow. The story before the first murder takes some time to begin, and I wouldn’t be surprised if a impatient player exits the game because of it. However, it is much more noticeable in the third stage, when the stakes decrease significantly before increasing again in the final hour or so. Without going into much detail, the third level brings significant gameplay and story changes, both for the good and the bad. At that point, I started to feel like I was watching the events in Tassing rather than playing them; I still like the story, but I don’t have to make the big decisions like in the first two levels, and there are no challenges coming up to push the characters.
During these slow paced parts, I also started working on my issues with the game’s sound design. Most of the time, Pentiment has no background music, which makes it awkward as much of the game is just talking to people. The sound of the scratch brush is nice, but I’d love to hear more about the game’s score, even if it’s something sparse and atmospheric. The background characters also don’t stop their idle animation when you talk to another person nearby, and the sound for these animations also continues. Most silent conversations will be one thing, but talking to a character for two to three minutes while the only sound is the constant, repetitive broom sweep of a nearby broom makes me more than once had to remove the headset.
Despite some issues with the sound and slowness of the third act, Pentiment is a wonderfully unique storytelling experience brimming with respect for the historical era it tries to recreate. Just as the game’s story themes persist over time, I will think about Andreas Maler and the town of Tassing for years to come.