Games of the year 2022: Pentiment is the best balancing act of the year

It starts with one word: pentiment.

It comes from pentimento, an overpainted image that becomes visible. This in turn derives from the Italian pentirsi, to repent or change one’s mind. It’s rare that the title of the game says exactly what’s coming. This is emblematic of the confidence with which Pentiment approaches his subjects.

In modern games, it’s easy to get distracted while exploring a massive world and lose track of the story – like I did in Horizon Zero Dawn. Or, like South of the Circle, a game might focus so much on telling a passable narrative that the gameplay all but disappears. In the delicate and complex balancing act of length, interactivity, and storytelling, video game stories are too often inconsistent. Or even worse: written by Hideo Kojima.

However, pentiment is a rare game where balance is achieved. Less goal-oriented than character-driven, it challenges you as Andreas Maler to solve a series of ambiguous murders against the background of the German Peasants’ War of 1524-1525. A common gaming task, but this is less about solving a mystery and more about witnessing the consequences of your actions.

A look at Pentiment.

In doing so, Pentiment, as its name suggests, defies the industry’s superficial standards to hide its true strengths below the waterline and encourage connections between players and characters that are disappointingly rare in other games.

This is driven by the most fundamental narrative concept that is all too often mistreated in gaming stories: conflict. The conflict between peasants and nobility; between inertia and change; between pleasure and duty. All of this focused on the eternally torn Andreas.

Andreas finds himself in Tassing, a landscape that is constantly at odds with itself. For some it’s a haven of idyllic spirituality under the watchful eye of St. Moritz, and for others it’s a turbulent epicenter of cultural and folkloric upheaval.

The details of these conflicts captivated me for three passes. In burly Endris’ longing for love. In the mysterious Martin Bauer. In the surprising divisions between peasant women and their monastic counterparts like Sister Illuminata.

If you only see a historical thriller at first, Pentiment reveals over the course of the term that it is ultimately not one story, but many. The narrative is driven by the idea that in order to uncover the truth beneath Tassing’s alleged painting, one must wash away a protective surface that can never be restored. An ethical dilemma between truth and the potential to ruin Tassing’s people – illustrated by the fact that characters fade with age.


Thanks to all of this, I really considered the consequences of every action. I was keen to keep the characters colorful and alive to save them from the doom that this period of history inevitably makes.

But that’s exactly what makes Pentiment an unusually strong story. regret. From the name to the gameplay, the story is intertwined with it. Regrets for bad decisions, things lost and opportunities missed, for ruining some to enhance others. Themes so relatable and so pointed from the start of the game.

A beginning that aptly leads us to rub off the surface of the Gospel of John. Its first line reads: “In principio era verbum.” In the beginning was the word.

Because as instructive as the name of the game is, it’s just the beginning. And a lot of Pentiment’s story is about swiping away that impression, that regret inherent in the word, in order to make it good. The beginning may be the word, says Pentiment, but ultimately there is so much more. Games of the year 2022: Pentiment is the best balancing act of the year

Fry Electronics Team

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