Obsidian tinkered with its upcoming murder mystery game Pentiment for several months before showing publisher and parent company Microsoft what it was working on.
Speaking to TechRadar Gaming at Gamescom 2022, Pentiment director Josh Sawyer said the team didn’t pitch the game to Microsoft, but rather got straight to work. Obsidian only told its publisher 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 it was after we had already made a full 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 harder."
A historical, narrative-driven murder mystery, Pentiment is illustrated in the style of late medieval tapestries. Sawyer reckons that distinctive art style was one of the reasons Microsoft greenlit the project.
“The art is so compelling, Hannah [Kennedy, art director] did such a great job that it’s easier to show than explain. It was almost nine months before we ever showed Microsoft anything, and by that time they were like ‘Wow, this is so unique; this is so cool. Looks great, keep going'.”
An Xbox Game Pass companion
Sawyer went on to highlight how games like Pentiment – text-heavy, narrative adventure games with peculiar visuals – have been made more commercially viable through Xbox Game Pass. As a relatively affordable subscription service that offers access to hundreds of games, it allows players to check out titles they otherwise might not be aware of, or inclined to purchase.
“I told my boss ‘I gotta make this right now, and I want to pitch it towards Game Pass,’” Sawyer says. "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 might come to it who might not normally play adventure games. If they bounce off it, that’s ok, because it’s on Game Pass. It’s not a big monthly investment.”
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Callum is TechRadar Gaming’s News Writer. You’ll find him whipping up stories about all the latest happenings in the gaming world, as well as penning the odd feature and review. Before coming to TechRadar, he wrote freelance for various sites, including Clash, The Telegraph, and Gamesindustry.biz, and worked as a Staff Writer at Wargamer. Strategy games and RPGs are his bread and butter, but he’ll eat anything that spins a captivating narrative. He also loves tabletop games, and will happily chew your ear off about TTRPGs and board games.
- Julian BensonContributor, TechRadar Gaming