I only really understood Pendragon after I nearly lost it all. All the heroes I banked my hopes on had died. Lancelot, Morgana le Fey, Aonghas, Gawaine: all dead. How would I save King Arthur now? My story had fallen apart. But instead of giving up, I carried on.
And in doing so the story changed. It became about someone else, an unremarkable villager who survived through it all. Aida “the nervous lady”, as the game called her. She made it to Arthur’s side against great odds and although she didn’t ultimately prevail against Mordred, Arthur’s evil son, it didn’t matter. It didn’t matter because as her epilogue played out before me in a series of milestone events, I realised what truly mattered was the story I told.
Pendragon is the new game from inkle, the small studio behind 80 Days and Heaven’s Vault and the Sorcery! adaptations – games which offer playful, nuanced spins on interactive fiction. Pendragon, in essence, is a roguelike in which you’re riding to help King Arthur as he prepares for a climactic battle, and you play it on a series of tiled boards strung across a series of maps, each taking place in a different location and moving the narrative onwards.