Return Of The Obra Dinn is an elegant mystery game from Locas Pope, the creator of the indie hit Papers, Please, in which you’ll investigate the deaths of the passengers and crew aboard the Obra Dinn, using a mysterious pocket watch to relive the moments before their demise.
We previously covered a very early build of Return of the Obra Dinn a year and a half ago and we’re very pleased to say that the latest GDC 2016 demo looks as promising as ever. Return Of The Obra Dinn takes a novel tact when dealing with its mystery elements, relying heavily on your observational skills to help you piece together the story. Understanding the narrative will often require rewatching certain game segments to verify the names, the jobs, and the causes of death for each corpse you discover. In your Crew Muster Book, you’ll be able to select the fates of each person aboard from a drop-down list that includes such possibilities as “Killed by A Beast’s Claws” and “Suicide by Drowning”. Like the 90s hit Myst, a pen and some paper are pretty much required if you want to keep track of everything and everyone in the game.
Visually, Return Of The Obra Dinn is simply stunning, but for us, it is the soundscape and foley that are the true standout features. The short bits of dialogue before each death feel almost like an old-timey radio play, engaging your brain to construct the scene with no visual input. This lends itself to some shocking reveals when you finally get to see the exact circumstances of each death.
One of the only issues we experienced in the demo is an unfortunate side effect of the game’s beautiful pixellated art style. Due to the game’s graphical choices and the similarity of its character designs, distinguishing betweens the characters can be difficult. You can make educated guesses to the identities of crew members based on when you come across their corpses, but the similarity between the character models can present a real challenge — and perhaps not one the designer intended. Never the less, the demo cuts straight to the heart of the story and the game’s premise (and the final scene is incredible). If you are looking for a seafaring, pirate-themed mystery game, Return Of The Obra Dinn should definitely be on your upcoming games radar.
Download The Return Of The Obra Dinn Demo (Win & Mac)