A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this game.
Contains historically faithful and accurate depictions of medieval culture, politics, literature, language, events, and famous figures -- particularly as applies to Christian belief and how much it permeated medieval life. A steady stream of thought-provoking dialogues on religious institutions, church practices, theology, and Catholic and Protestant history. Player has access to a journal that catalogues many historical terms and names that can be clicked on whenever they appear in dialogue for instant access to a glossary. Solving the murder mysteries involves thoughtful decision-making, careful dialogue choices, curiosity, evidence analysis, and other communicative and critical thinking skills.
Wonderfully nuanced characters constantly remind you to have an undying curiosity and empathy for people. Never stop searching for the full story and context of someone's actions and words, even when testimonies and evidence continually stack up against them. Teaches players to always hold their own positive or negative biases in suspicion, and remember that the smallest acts of kindness or rudeness can come back to help or haunt you. Forces you to make tough decisions in no-win situations, but asks that you always give your all with what time and resources you have.
Positive Role Models
A handful of bad characters take advantage of women by force or manipulation. Others can be callous to people's suffering, or quick to violence or cruelty. You can choose to be a "Rapscallion" or "Hedonist" when choosing your character's hobbies, too. But you can also make decisions to comfort people in the midst of loss, or aid sick and poor people. Standout characters are characterized by exemplary endurance, humility, care, and spirituality. Various men and women challenge sexist and classist issues that arose from medieval religious institutions and teaching.
European setting in Bavarian Alps; most characters are White. There's a Jewish couple and an Ethiopian man. Issues of racial and cultural prejudice arise in dialogue with these characters, serving as opportunities to learn about their experiences with oppression and distrust at the hands of other Europeans and the church. Two monks are in a gay relationship that's kept secret, but it's not shown in a negative light by the story itself. You play as a young woman at one point, and she (along with several other women) directly challenges behavioral and institutional sexism in medieval society and Christian teachings.
Did we miss something on diversity? Suggest an update.
Ease of Play
Play with a mouse, keyboard, or controller. Buttons are customizable, along with some accessibility features like easier-to-read text, voice assist, and a photosensitivity option. Several simple mini-games have you drag or rotate items on-screen. You're limited to how much you can accomplish since the game takes place over time blocks, but it doesn't run in real time. You decide when to choose dialogue options and move on to the next task. Can be a bit cumbersome with its menu navigation, but gameplay itself involves simple exploration by clicking on objects, people, and dialogue options. A journal proves very useful to keep track of objectives, characters, and places.
Violence & Scariness
Death is common in the medieval era, with men, women, and infants who die off-screen, usually from illness. The amount of depicted violence is dependent on the player's actions, but players will see a few dead bodies covered in blood. At one point, your character draws rough sketches of a knife wound and head injury with a corpse examination. Later, you are part of a crowd watching an execution and can look away or see the victim slashed across the neck or fully decapitated with a sword. Another man is shot in the chest, producing a red stain on his shirt. You can also go on a hunt with one character, and shoot a deer and slit its throat. Medieval art style slightly lessens the visual impact of the gore.
Did you know you can flag iffy content? Adjust limits for Violence & Scariness in your kid's entertainment guide.Get started
Sex, Romance & Nudity
Sex is a fairly common subject that comes up in your investigations with people being found out for affairs or having sex outside of marriage -- consensual or manipulative. You can choose to have your character say euphemistic things in some conversations. One female character pushes you to have sex; if you accept, they kiss and rub each other in full clothing before jumping behind a bookshelf. Two gay men are depicted in the same manner at another point. Another character is accused of physically abusing and raping a nun; this tragedy isn't shown or spoken about graphically.
Did you know you can flag iffy content? Adjust limits for Sex, Romance & Nudity in your kid's entertainment guide.Get started
Strong language isn't overwhelming but is frequent. Words include "ass," "piss," "damn," "bitch," "whore," "bastard," "s--t," and "f--k." Considering the religious medieval setting, Christian blasphemy is common as well, with exclamations like "Christ" and "goddamn."
Did you know you can flag iffy content? Adjust limits for Language in your kid's entertainment guide.Get started
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
There's a tavern with beer kegs and mugs. A couple of events involve the town gathering together; some act inebriated and have flushed faces. Wine is also shown in a church but no one gets drunk from it.
Did you know you can flag iffy content? Adjust limits for Drinking, Drugs & Smoking in your kid's entertainment guide.Get started
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.
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.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.