After developing “Papers, Please”, Lucas Pope led the Japan-based studio 3909 LLC to develop Return of the Obra Dinn which is set aboard a fictional East India Company ghost ship. The game uses a 1-bit monochromatic graphical style inspired by games on early Macintosh systems. It is a single player adventure/puzzle game that was named among the year’s best games by several journalists and also won Best Art Direction at The Game Awards 2018.
Story: It had been six years since the Obra Dinn had gone missing. It returns to its England port and the East India Company sends an insurance adjuster to find out what happened on the ship. You, the agent, use deductive reasoning and a Memento Mortem stopwatch to determine the identity of all sixty crew members who died. Their way and time of death is to be discovered, and if killed, the name of their murderer.
Play Style: The game is a logic puzzle that requires the player to employ deductive reasoning to discover the fate of each crew member. The fates are selected from a given list of verbs. Explicit clues for how each member died are not given, causing the player to determine the way of death by process of elimination. To help with the task, you are given a log book that also includes a drawing of the crew members and the layouts of the ship. The Memento Mortem, a stopwatch that plays back the audio of the moments before the person’s death, is also used to help investigate. It gives the player to explore the area around the moment of death that is frozen. The game is over only when the player has correctly identified the names and fates of the crew members.
Audience: Players who love the thrill and suspense of investigation will love Return of the Obra Dinn. The monochromatic graphics system is very unique and if you are a fan of the old-school then this is going to appeal to you. Moreover, the game is exceptionally challenging. It is going to make you pause and think for a while before determining your prediction, which is an exciting experience on its own.
Platforms: Return of the Obra Dinn is available on macOS and Microsoft Windows.
Verdict: The game is exceptionally unique both in its idea and graphics. It has rightfully earned its acclaim and Lucas Pope has lived up to his repute of developing genuine ideas into reality. Return of the Obra Dinn has won our praise and we were completely engrossed playing through it.