There's been a lot of pessimism around Xbox lately in the wake of Refall's launch and reception, and coupled with Phil Spencer's comments about Xbox's relative inability to compete in Sony and Nintendo's games (comments that I feel were taken out of context, in my opinion), it has left many wondering what Xbox's role in the market is. And while it may be true that Xbox is struggling to compete with the high-profile, Game of the Year nominees that Sony and Nintendo pump out every year, Xbox has found a niche in my gaming world that I really appreciate. I love how Microsoft has empowered their subsidiary studios like Tango Gameworks and Obsidian Entertainment to pursue passion projects like Hi-Fi Rush and Pentiment.
Now, it may be true that Obsidian has more leash than the average studio, considering their reputation (and that they're also working on Avowed, a more mainstream first-person RPG), but Pentiment is the kind of game that we don't really see out of AAA gaming anymore. It's got a very stylized art style, modeled after medieval woodcuts and manuscript art, and the gameplay is just walking (lots of it) and talking (lots of it). It probably didn't sell very well when stacked up against other AAA games from 2022 (though it was on Game Pass on day one), and I don't think it was projected to sell millions of copies anyway. Instead, without the pressures of selling millions of copies and appealing to the mainstream, Obsidian was free to pour their heart into Pentiment and make it exactly the game that they had envisioned for all of those years. I might be wrong, I've been wrong before, but I think that I see this type of creative freedom more often from Xbox than the other major players....well, maybe not from Nintendo, but they're always off to the side doing their own thing. Pentiment is a great game, and I hope Xbox continues to see whatever results they want from games like it so we can continue to see passion projects get AAA funding like this.
Joining me in episode 73 to discuss Pentiment is TroytlePower! Troy is a writer and podcaster doing indie game reviews and audio-only let's play podcasts. You can find Troy on Twitter and check out Troy's writing and podcasts at his website!
You can listen to episode 73 of Tales from the Backlog (Pentiment) in the player below, or you can follow the links to the show on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Podcast Addict, Stitcher, Google Podcasts or search "Tales from the Backlog" in your favorite podcast app!