A medievalist spotted fake Latin in Pentiment, and Obsidian is already working on a fix

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Fryske Academy researcher Peter-Alexander Kerkhof, whose name you may recognize from his playful and informative critique of medieval videogame pigs (opens in new tab), has largely been enjoying Pentiment, Obsidian’s medieval adventure game-RPG hybrid. 

However, his trained eye did notice one issue amidst the game’s rigorous commitment to its early modern setting: the use of lorem ipsum placeholder text (opens in new tab) instead of real Latin in Pentiment’s intro cutscene.

Pentiment is a real triumph (opens in new tab), a thought-provoking adventure game from some old hands at making great CRPGs. Part of its appeal is its commitment to its 16th century setting: It illustrates the particular quirks of creating an illuminated manuscript (as reflected by the title, a reference to the phenomenon of pentimento (opens in new tab)), for instance, and portrays an archaic, agrarian way of telling time.

That academic rigor made the placeholder text in the intro stand out all the more to Kerkhof⁠. The game opens with the pages of an illuminated manuscript flipping open, eventually revealing a panel with the game’s opening scene. The text surrounding this panel is lorem ipsum (opens in new tab), Latin-sounding nonsense placeholder text that’s used in printing and graphic design to demonstrate how a finalized layout might look.

Kerkhof tweeted out his observation of the error, which was noticed by Pentiment director Josh Sawyer. Sawyer replied to Kerkhof, saying, “If there is any lorem ipsum anywhere, it’s a bug. We used real Latin (sourced or translated in-house) for every page of visible text.” Sawyer and Pentiment’s art director, Hannah Kennedy, stated that the error would be rectified in the game’s next patch.

Now that that’s out of the way, let’s get to the most important issue: how are the pigs? Kerkhof’s previous writing (opens in new tab) on videogames showed that the industry has a habit of presenting modern, pink, pot-bellied piggies in medieval settings, as opposed to the furry, rangy, boarlike oinkers of yesteryear.

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Kennedy told Kerkhof that “most of our animals are based off of other woodcuts directly from the time period, not necessarily from written (and sometimes more accurate) records,” an approach that dovetails nicely with Pentiment’s presentation as an illuminated manuscript in motion.

Kerkhof, for his part, is pleased, with the lone caveat that Pentiment’s porkers are a bit on the portly side. He told Kennedy, “just to be clear, the medieval pigs in Pentiment are by far the most historically accurate I have ever seen in a videogame.” If you’d like to read more about Pentiment’s unique presentation, we previously spoke to Josh Sawyer about the game’s use of fonts to indicate characters’ class and worldview (opens in new tab).

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