Pentiment - Josh Sawyer Talks Murder Mysteries

A string of grisly murders is at the forefront of Obsidian Entertainment's recently-released narrative adventure Pentiment. However, while you can eventually learn who was behind this plot, the individual murderers are never identified beyond the shadow of a doubt.

As such, you might be interested in this Game Developer interview with Pentiment's director Josh Sawyer where he explains his rather unorthodox approach to putting together a murder mystery, the inspirations behind it, and the challenges of making a story like this work.

Here's a couple of sample paragraphs to get you started:

But players hoping to Benoit Blanc their way through Tassing found themselves without one conventional crime solving tool: the alibi. Sawyer explained that in designing the various murders, the team at Obsidian originally considered an option to determine alibis—if any of the suspects could securely identify that they were somewhere else at the time of the murder.

The "alibis" feature even made it into the first prototype of Pentiment, but not the final game. "We got rid of it," he explained. "All it does is exclude [suspects], and we're not trying to find a singular suspect, we're trying to rule people in, not rule them out."

He went on to say that the point of the investigative process in Pentiment is to have players hone in on the motive. Determining the "means" is relevant to The Baron's murder, but not to the second or third investigations in the game's following acts.