Return of the Obra Dinn Game Review

Return of the Obra Dinn Game Review

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Christopher Ocker, Staff Writer

After the massive success of Papers, Please, indie developer Lucas Pope decided to focus in on making another unique detective experience. This led to the creation of Return of the Obra Dinn, a monochromatic murder-mystery game that takes place on an abandoned ship. Despite its strange concept and presentation, this has to be one of the unique and original investigation games released in a while.

“Return of the Obra Dinn” sees an insurance officer investigating what happened on the Obra Dinn, an English ship that has disappeared in the ocean in 1807.  With a pocket watch that can rewind time to the exact moment of a person’s death, you have to figure out who everyone on the ship was as well as how they perished. However, through this investigation, you discover the tragedy of what occurred on this ship. Once all the memories are discovered, it pieces together a very dark and depressing tale about how dozens of innocents died due to selfishness and the evil of others. The fact the story is also told backward for each chapter makes the stories so much more impactful and intriguing.

Unlike many other mystery games, “Return of the Obra Dinn” focuses more on intuitive thinking rather than deductive reasoning. Puzzles on the Obra Dinn can range from very simplistic to wildly complicated. Discovering a person’s identity can be just associating a name or figuring out their ship role. However, after about half of the fates are determined, you have to start scrapping from the bottom of the barrel to find evidence. You will start to use anything to figure out who people are and who they are standing next to in a photo or guessing their nationality from their clothing (which is made even more complicated with the limited definition in the graphics). What makes these deductions even more complicated is how nearly every tool and piece of information given to you as an importance whether you realize it or not. When all the pieces fall into place, it is one of the most satisfying moments you will experience in a game. It rewards players who make predictions, think outside the box, and use all of their information to their advantage to solve even the most complicated of murders. That inductive reasoning is what separates “Return of the Obra Dinn” from so many games in the genre.

If you are in the mood to play a game that will test your intuition and creative thinking, I cannot recommend “Return of the Obra Dinn” enough. It is brimming with passion and dedication that you will not find in many other games. It is one of the best indie games released all year and is an experience that cannot be matched by many other games in the genre.