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High fantasy meets 1920s upheaval in episodic adventure Pendula Swing, out now

While others (like Arcanum) have played with the idea of high fantasy moving into the modern era, point-and-click episodic adventure Pendula Swing might be the most committed to the concept yet. Described by its developers as “Tolkien meets The Great Gatsby”, it’s the story of a long-retired dwarven heroine forced to leave her secluded island home in search of a stolen magic axe. A lot has happened over four hundred years of seclusion, and the city is now buzzing with automobiles, industry and jazz. The initial two episodes (of seven) are out today, with the first being free.

While I’ve only played a little of the first episode (and found myself very thankful for a hotspot indicator), it seems like Pendula Swing’s developers, Valiant, aim to tackle some thorny subject matter. Prejudice, social upheaval, prohibition and women’s suffrage are all on the cards. We’ve seen others fumble this particular angle across multiple mediums (need I mention Bright?), but Pendula Swing may be able to handle things with a little more delicacy. Although it’s still a careful balancing act, and the promise of multiple solutions to problems adds another layer of complexity.

Pendula Swing does seem to lean a little more into its magical world. Being hundreds of years old, protagonist Brialynne Donu Tenúm has a rather different outlook on the passing of time than most, especially as her human wife died three hundred years prior. While some of the elves she knew may still be around, a dozen generations of humans have been and gone since she last looked. It’s an interesting blend of concepts, and I’ll hopefully be playing a bit more at the weekend.

Pendula Swing’s pilot episode, Tired and Retired, is out now and free on Steam. The second episode – The Old Hero’s New Journey – costs £5/$5/$5, with the remaining five coming later.

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Dominic Tarason

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