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    dkirschner's Pentiment (PC)

    [July 20, 2023 10:03:54 PM]
    To add, since I wrote the previous entry when I was exhausted. There are three more things I wanted to elaborate on / point out that have popped in my head today.

    I quickly mentioned before that the narrative unfolds over 25 years. You play during this period at three points. Your actions have some branching effects over the years. If youíre an asshole to characters, theyíll remember you less fondly. Depending on who you accuse of murder, their trajectory will be different. The main character in particular, Andreas, changes over the years, and this was enjoyable to see. In the beginning, heís relatively carefree, but later, after he gets married and gains renown, his responsibilities weigh on him. He feels tied down. You can choose to play Andreas as more or less optimistic, more or less of a family man, more or less of a party animal, and so on, or be wildly inconsistent in your interactions. But regardless, Andreas has a rich inner life. We learn about his anxieties, the struggle of his allegiances between the townsfolk and the abbey, and how he mentors another young apprentice. His dreams in the court are really neat, but unfortunately that thread gets dropped in the third part. Other characters change over the years too, becoming bitter, or falling in love and marrying, raising families, losing loved ones. The town and the abbey feel very alive. As I mentioned before, the complexity of relationships, of the effects of history on the present, accumulate over time. It was hard enough to keep track of everyone in the first point in time, but by the third, most characters in town run together, though the major players I could remember.

    Another thing to add to my points earlier about historical authenticity is the way dialogue is presented. Andreas initially works in a scriptorium, part of the abbey responsible for transcribing and preserving books, drawing illustrations, and doing contracts for clients who support the abbey. So aesthetically, the whole world is beautifully illustrated, and the dialogue is no different. It appears on screen as if someone is writing it, complete in beautiful script. Different types of characters have different scripts (e.g., peasantsí script is more rugged, while elitesí script is more elaborate). Their writing capability signals their position in the social structure, which is a cool touch. Characters are also prone to misspelling words, and after the dialogue is written, itíll edit itself. This was kind of annoying sometimes because I didnít know what a word was until it corrected itself, but I liked the depiction of the writing process. It also slows the game down to what I figure is its deliberate pace. Also, the last time I played, I noticed that sometimes the ink actually appears wet when dialogue first begins, then looks dry after a moment. What attention to detail!

    The last thing is experiential. This past winter, I bought a treadmill. Iíve considered putting a TV in front of it, but I recently realized that its media tray supports my laptop, so I was watching TV and movies while walking. When I started playing Pentiment, I thought, ďHuh, I bet I could walk and play this with a controller.Ē I often walk and read a book at the same time, so this seemed similar. Indeed, I could do it! But, as I was playing the first time, I shifted how I was holding the controller and my finger moved over a port on the bottom. The controller shocked the shit out of me. Then it did it again and again. At one point, I changed the volume on the laptop, and when I touched it, the laptop shocked me. Hm. I tried not to touch any ports or the laptop, but inevitably got shocked some more. After a couple days of this, I realized this was probably not good for any of the electronics, let alone my comfort. I looked it up online and apparently treadmills build up static electricity, which makes sense. Treadmills themselves will shock people if theyíve got the charge. Itís really common. People who walk and work on laptops at the same time report being shocked by their laptop. There are solutions to this, but I had never thought about it. I know I need to put the treadmill on a rubber mat, but Iím done using my laptop on there. Iím going to put a TV on a stand or mount one instead, and I can plug my laptop into that. I am curious about this playing games while walking through. Do other people do this? I sometimes play Playstation while using a stepper, so gaming while exercising isnít new to me. What else to people do while playing games?
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    [July 19, 2023 07:49:41 PM]
    Retired not long after part 3. This is a point-and-click game, but really more like a visual novel. There aren't puzzles or items to manipulate. You just walk around and talk to characters. Lots and lots of characters, over 25 years. It is impossible to remember who everyone is and all their various relationships over three time periods. By the end, I was just like, "who is that?" to every third person in town.

    Pentiment is on many levels really impressive. It's packed full of medieval history and makes that time and the place come alive. It's got language from the time, customs, food, architecture, portrays changes in the church, in power dynamics in a town, demonstrates what life was like for peasants and townsfolk and monks. I mean, the historical stuff coming alive is really something, and I'd say worth taking a look at alone if you have even a slight interest in seeing history represented in a video game.

    And actually playing the game captivated me for a good chunk of time. You play as an artist named Andreas who is staying in this small town doing work for the abbey in the scriptorium. There is a murder, and thus begins a mystery that spans the rest of the game. You, as an outsider, investigate what happened. Do you find the murderer? Maybe. But you'll leave town and start a life first. Fast-forward like 10 years and Andreas comes back to the town, now well-to-do. The townsfolk are worse off though, and his arrival isn't necessarily a welcome surprise for all. The murder mystery picks up again, plot plot plot. Andreas leaves again. Fast forward like another 10 years. The game changes tone a bit and dropped some of what I had found interesting playing as Andreas. It starts ruminating on history and how art tells stories of a people or a place, and how meaning is contested. It's all very smart. Someone is going to write a good paper on the game. But I totally lost interest. I got tired of reading, of walking around clicking on characters, having long conversations with them. The story became less interesting and I became less invested and started to wonder what I was doing with my time. So I looked up the ending, don't think I missed much, and quit. I would have liked to have kept at it, but the juice wasn't worth the squeeze.
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    Status

    dkirschner's Pentiment (PC)

    Current Status: Stopped playing - Got Bored

    GameLog started on: Sunday 2 July, 2023

    GameLog closed on: Wednesday 19 July, 2023

    Opinion
    dkirschner's opinion and rating for this game

    Looking forward to a historical, artistic, narrative game. --------- Really neat game, but I totally lost interest toward the end.

    Rating (out of 5):starstarstarstarstar

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