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This being an Obsidian title, it also uses the hyperlink system popularized by the likes of Pillars of Eternity and Tyranny. But here it's taken one step further. Whenever you click one of those links, an explanation of some term, person, or point of interest appears on the book's margins.
All of it looks really cool, but when taken in conjunction with the way Pentiment seems to know its own themes, its competent storytelling, and how everything in the game is set up and connected, you can't help but be impressed.
Sure, there's room for discussion about whether Pentiment is an actual game, but if we concede this point, then with the way it's executed, it may very well be the best Obsidian title since at least Fallout: New Vegas.
As we've already established, Pentiment's visuals are quite impressive. And with the way the game is structured, it's hard to decouple the visuals from the UI that's also presented in the same manuscript style. As such, while the menus can be a bit fiddly and slow to navigate, on account of them being stylized as bookmarked parts of a physical journal, just the fact that said journal is not a series of minimalistic transparent windows elevates it way above many of its contemporaries.
The game's audio is also a joy to listen to, be it the soundtrack, the background noises, or the sounds of a quill writing the game's dialogue. Now, by the looks of it, not everyone enjoyed the latter, and as a result, following a recent patch, you can now make the dialogue appear instantaneously.
In fact, the game has a decent number of accessibility options that pretty much everyone can enjoy, like scalable text size. The weird thing about Pentiment's options menu is that you can only access certain options once you've started a game. Another annoyance in that area is a lack of graphics options. You get a vague visual quality slider and that's it. And, this being a Unity Engine game, it's important to point out that there doesn't seem to be any way to enable VSync or limit the game's FPS number. Thankfully, Pentiment doesn't seem to suffer from Unity's propensity to turn your GPU into a jet engine, but it still would've been nice to have those options.
Another frequent Unity quirk - game saves taking forever - doesn't seem to be present here, and perhaps that's why you only get autosaves that happen during scene transitions and no quick or manual saves.
Being originally developed as an Xbox Game Pass title, Pentiment was designed with a controller in mind, and as a result of that the default keyboard and mouse control scheme is far from ideal. When keys like [ and ] see prominent use in your game, you must know you've messed up. Thankfully, the abovementioned patch also added a new option that allows you to navigate the menus using the mouse, and that makes things significantly more pleasant.
Finally, the game seems to be fairly well-polished and the only bugs worth mentioning include a rare couple of game logic lapses where characters go through certain conversations twice.
With its stylish presentation, tight and competently told story, and numerous advancements in the realm of video game dialogue, you would be remiss not to play Pentiment purely on account of it lacking the usual trappings of an RPG.
If you like historical settings, murder mysteries, and touching personal stories, then Pentiment is definitely a game for you regardless of how you want to classify it.