Obsidian tinkered with its upcoming murder mystery game, Pentiment, for several months before showing publisher and parent Microsoft what it was working on.
Speaking to Gaming at Gamescom 2022, Pentiment director Josh Sawyer said the team didn’t release the game to Microsoft, but got right to work. Obsidian only told their editor about the game after several months of development, feeling it needed to be seen to be understood.
“The first time we talked to Microsoft about this was after we had already made a complete prototype,” says Sawyer. “The way we presented it was to show the prototype and then explain it. I think if we explained it and then showed it, it would have been more difficult.”
A historical and narrative murder mystery, Pentimento is illustrated in the style of late medieval tapestries. Sawyer believes this distinctive art style was one of the reasons Microsoft gave the project the green light.
“Art is so attractive, Hannah [Kennedy, art director] did such a good job that it’s easier to show than explain. It was almost nine months before we showed anything to Microsoft, and at that time they were like, ‘Wow, this is so unique; this is so cool. Looks great, keep going’.”
An Xbox Game Pass companion
Sawyer highlighted how games like Pentiment – narrative adventure games with lots of text and quirky visuals – have become more commercially viable through Xbox Game Pass. As a relatively affordable subscription service that gives you access to hundreds of games, it allows gamers to check out titles they might not otherwise know about or would be inclined to buy.
“I told my boss, ‘I have to do this now and I want to release it on Game Pass,’” says Sawyer. “The reason I thought it would be good is because Microsoft had Game Pass, which seemed like a great platform for this type of game.
“I hope a lot of people come to it who don’t normally play adventure games. If they hit it’s fine, because it’s on Game Pass. It’s not a big monthly investment.”
Pentimento was first revealed at Summer Game Fest 2022 and is set to release this November. It will come to Xbox Series X | S, Xbox One and PC.