Published on March 1st, 2024 | by Gareth Newnham

Pentiment Review (Switch)

Pentiment Review (Switch) Gareth Newnham

Summary: A unique and beguiling historical murder mystery that this scribe can't recommended enough.


Sicut unum

Obsidian Studios’ Pentiment is a smart, funny, medieval murder mystery with a unique style and some incredibly sharp writing that you now have no excuse not to play.

What instantly strikes you about Pentiment is its eye for detail and its incredible art style, which effortlessly mimics the beautiful medieval manuscripts of the 16th century in which this adventure RPG is set.


There is a visual confidence and flair to every part of the experience that is rarely seen in games backed by a major publisher these days, but the results speak for themselves. As the world literally springs to life from the pages of a manuscript being written as you play. It’s the nods and winks to the printing and writing techniques of the time that really sell it. The local printer speaks to you in woodblock type while the older monks converse in elaborate Gothic script. It’s a great touch in a game about big ideas and how they are presented, as much as about who did it.

It’s a lushly recreated world too, and a clear labour of love with a level of historical accuracy that belies its otherwise humorous tone. Everything from the small village and monastery where the game is set, to the lives of the peasants, the food, clothing, how each day is divided, and even the font used for the game’s stylized speech bubbles has been painstakingly researched.

Players take on the role of Andreas Maler, a journeyman artist honing his craft at a small monastery in Kiersau Abbey. Reaching a crossroads in his life where he can either return home, marry the woman his parents have picked out for him and set up his own print shop, or carry on his adventures, mirroring the political and social upheaval of the period, Andreas gets himself caught up in a murder that threatens to unravel the peaceful existence of the residents of this seemingly inconsequential settlement.

There are twists, turns, and plenty of revelations in the investigation that Andreas takes upon himself to conduct, which, thanks to some fantastic writing that would make Ellis Peters proud, but it is Pentiment’s eye for historical accuracy that really helps the writing shine and makes the world feel not only accurate to the period but lived in.

It’s a fabulous story, but what makes it more impressive is how the game’s RPG elements actually have a palpable effect on it. When you first set off to the monastery on your first day in the scriptorium, Andreas discusses his past with a curious visiting baron; through this, you get to choose the kind of person Andreas is, from a studious and quiet man to a reformed hedonist, as well as where he studied at university and what, which has a bearing on what languages he recognizes, and speaks as well as the areas he has expertise in and with it the kinds of relationships he will forge with the villagers, which are also dependant on how you interact with them. It’s all very clever stuff, and I’ve never seen the “They will remember this” message actually hold so much weight in a game before.

As Andreas goes about his daily routine in the Kiersau and the nearby village of Hassing, slowly getting to know the locals, their problems, and their perspective on events, you slowly get not only the lay of the land, but begin to piece together who did it, and their motives for committing the deed. By the end of the approximately 20-hour adventure, you feel like you’ve learned a bit about the period as well as taken part in a fantastic tale to boot, One I was keen to dive back into straight away to see how giving Andreas a different back story, educational talents, and approaching different situations in a different way would change the narrative. Knowing what happens doesn’t stop the game from being enjoyable simply because the road to get there is so damn entertaining, and finding a different route through to the end is just as fun, if not more so, than the first time around.

Having previously played Pentiment on Series X, it’s great to see it make its way to the machine I thought it was really made for, that being the Switch, being able to pick up and put down the game or playthrough a couple of days at bedtime, or while on a lunch break, has become my favorite way to play the game. It may not have quite as fast load times or run at 120fps as its PS5 and Series X|S cousins. But it really doesn’t need to.

Final Thoughts

Pentiment is a unique and absolutely superb adventure RPG that presents an immaculate recreation of 16th-century Baravia by combining a studious approach to historical accuracy and some beautifully stylized graphics that make this beguiling murder mystery all the more of a joy to play.

That being said, if you’re the kind of person who prizes action over all else, beware that it’s a slow burn and a dialogue-heavy drama rather than medieval cops and robbers. But if you have even a passing interest in medieval history or a love of Cadfael, you owe it to yourself to play Pentiment.

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