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The history behind Pentiment and the creation of its artistic style

The game's director and art director put their upcoming game in context and talked about its design.

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Gamescom is slowly being left behind, but that's not the case for the experiences, projects and new games that were in attendance. All those titles are still to come to players and some of them look really special and different from everything we have seen. In this case we are talking about Pentiment, the game developed by Obsidian and with a certain touch of Umberto Eco's The Name of the Rose. At the Cologne fair we were lucky enough to be able to interview Pentiment director Josh Sawyer and art director Hannah Kennedy in an interview that you can see below.


One of the things that obviously catches your attention when you see Pentiment (and also when you play it, because we were able to try it and gave you our first impressions) is the marked artistic style of the game, inspired by medieval codices and engravings. And about this inspiration and how it affects the plot, the developer commented the following:

"[Pentiment] is set in the early 16th century, in Bavaria, which at that time was not part of Germany but part of the Holy Roman Empire. At the beginning of the 16th century in Germany and throughout the Roman Empire there was a time of a lot of turmoil because the [Luther] Reformation was taking place and the German peasants' war, there were a lot of new social and religious ideas, so yes, this is the context we wanted our story to take."

Obviously the art of the time and the culture of the time has been the way those episodes of history came down to us, whether in chronicles, engravings or even in music and oral tradition. In this case Hannah Kennedy takes the helm and tells us what it was like to take those snippets of history and transform them into the current style of the game, with its advantages and its limitations.

"One of the main challenges was this time period kind of in-between the art style that was primarily eliminated manuscripts people were doing all these paintings and making books by hand and then painting all the illustrations within them, and then transitioning to woodcut printing and what illustration looked like at the time. We wanted to represent that in the game and have both... shown and both kind of these transition feeling to mirror that time period, so that was one challenge."

"We noticed at that point we were having difficulty with that... all of the illustrations of people, even within scenes from the sources of art that we were referencing, they're all in three quarter view, they never have just a back, you know, or even just a front. So we structured our scenes around those limitations so that it felt good when we saw the arts and it felt, you know, cohesive to the style of illustrations that we were copying, but then we just shape the structure around that to support it."

Very soon we will be able to enjoy the story and art of Pentiment, as its release is scheduled for November 15, 2022.


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REVIEW. Written by Jakob Hansen

Obsidian has delivered a masterpiece.

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