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A Lot or a Little?
The parents' guide to what's in this game.
What Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Pentiment is a downloadable point-and-click adventure game available for Xbox One, Xbox One X/S, and Windows PCs. You play as an aspiring artist in the medieval era working on your masterpiece in an abbey with several monks. But a visiting benefactor of the church is murdered within its walls. Using wits and intuition, your goal is to find clues and uncover the culprit by exploring around the abbey and the nearby village while talking with a huge cast of characters along the way. The game has educational value as a love letter to medieval history, with well-researched depictions of the culture, religion, politics, and more. Critical thinking and empathy are crucial story elements. There are a few dead bodies covered in blood throughout the narrative. Depending on your actions, you might see an execution play out, where someone is slashed or decapitated with a sword, or hunt a deer that's shot and cut across the throat. Sex is mentioned multiple times in dialogue, with affairs and euphemistic comments. There are no graphic details, though one character is accused of abusing and raping a woman. At one point, the player's character is prompted to have sex, and if this happens, he and the woman kiss and rub each other briefly before jumping behind cover. A similar scene plays out between two men. Strong language like "f--k" and "s--t" is present.
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What’s It About?
In PENTIMENT, it's 1518, and Andreas Maler is journeying across Europe to study and practice the arts. He finds himself in the quaint Germanic village of Tassing, which is built atop ancient Roman ruins and overseen by a Catholic abbey of monks and nuns. It's just another day for Andreas, until a baron stops by for an unscheduled visit to check on the status of a commissioned, hand-drawn manuscript. After causing some lively controversy that night, he's found dead with a knife in his back the following morning, with someone at the crime scene who could never have done the deed. With the regional prince-bishop days away from finding out about the baron's death, you're pulled into a murder mystery against time to prove your friend's innocence and find the true killer. The task is overwhelming and hardly befitting an artist, but you'll need to do all you can by investigating as much of Tassing and its citizens as possible. Will you see the light at the end of the tunnel? Or will this case spiral deeper and deeper into more mystery and madness?
Is It Any Good?
The depth here isn't in the gameplay, but in the focus on storytelling. Pentiment's interactivity comes in simple button prompts where you talk with characters or observe objects and places around you. You're limited to roaming around a small village and church, and sometimes you'll play small mini-games where you select objects in a certain order or drag the on-screen cursor across a page to highlight words. Much like classic point-and-click adventure games, Pentiment keeps mechanics to a minimum for the sake of highlighting player choice with story direction. At first, you choose from a number of backgrounds, skills, and hobbies that influence your success in certain conversations and who you get along with. As the story unfolds, you put together clues across several time blocks each day. You can do a few activities, but what you do and with whom you eat requires sacrifice; you can't look into each potential lead or spend time with everyone. Many opportunities will pass by as you move forward, but these restrictions prompt thorough exploration and goals to work with what you have, which results in a thrilling race against the clock as you put together as many pieces of the puzzle as possible.
Despite seeming small, the village hosts dozens of citizens with rich backstories, complicated personalities, and shocking secrets. The game excels with its writing, ranging from deeply insightful to outrageously funny to emotionally resonant. This extends to the in-game journal, filled with helpful character bios, maps, and objectives, that not only helps you keep track of everything, but also contributes to an illuminating crash course on 16th century Europe with true (or faithful, at the very least) medieval history involving Christianity, politics, and culture. This is wrapped in a gorgeous art style mimicking medieval illustrations, along with stylized written dialogue in cursive, gothic script, and printing press type. Every aspect of Pentiment is a deeply researched commentary and respectful love letter to the medieval era, as well as a testament to how video games can offer uniquely engrossing stories where every decision truly matters.
Talk to Your Kids About ...
Families can talk about the difficulty of pursuing truth. Sometimes its difficult to tell when someone is being honest, let alone figure out the truth when people tell conflicting stories about an event or conversation. What are some ways you can be fair to everyone involved when you need to find out what is right or wrong? Have you considered every angle of a situation, and talked with everyone involved?
Have you considered all the options at your disposal to solve problems that feel too big? How can you tackle something in the most effective way? Might you be able to do more with some help?
How can you be open to recognizing when a belief might be causing more problems than solutions -- whether it's your belief or someone else's? How can you be honest yet respectful in critiquing a belief without insulting or dismissing it?
- Platforms: Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S, Windows
- Subjects: Language & Reading: discussion, following directions, forming arguments, letter or word recognition, naming, presenting to others, reading, reading comprehension, spelling, storytelling, text analysis, using supporting evidence, vocabulary, Social Studies: citizenship, cultural understanding, events, exploration, geography, government, historical figures, history, power structures, the economy, timelines, Arts: drawing, painting
- Skills: Thinking & Reasoning: analyzing evidence, applying information, asking questions, collecting data, decision-making, deduction, investigation, logic, making conclusions, memorization, problem solving, solving puzzles, thinking critically, Self-Direction: achieving goals, effort, goal-setting, initiative, motivation, self-reflection, set objectives, time management, work to achieve goals, working efficiently, Emotional Development: empathy, handling stress, perspective taking, self-awareness, Communication: asking questions, conveying messages effectively, friendship building, listening, multiple forms of expression, presenting, Collaboration: cooperation, meeting challenges together, respecting other viewpoints, Responsibility & Ethics: embracing differences, following codes of conduct, honoring the community, integrity, learning from consequences, making wise decisions, respect for others, Health & Fitness: preventing sickness
- Pricing structure: Paid ($19.99)
- Available online?: Available online
- Publisher: Obsidian Entertainment
- Release date: November 14, 2022
- Genre: Adventure
- Topics: Adventures, Book Characters, History
- Character Strengths: Communication, Compassion, Curiosity, Empathy, Integrity
- ESRB rating: M for Blood and Gore, Sexual Themes, Strong Language, Violence
- Last updated: January 18, 2023
Our Editors Recommend
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For kids who love adventures
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