Return of the Obra Dinn drifts into port later this year.
In it, you play as an ‘insurance adjustor’ for the East India Company’s London Office tasked with uncovering what happened to the Obra Dinn’s crew and holdings after it reappears drifting into a dock five years since it was declared lost at sea. The ship has no visible damage, but the vessel is strewn with bodies and the indications of some kind of struggle. It’s your duty to examine the evidence using your mysterious watch capable of rewinding time allowing you to see flashbacks of how people died. Piecing this evidence together is a key part of the game, as you fill out the Crew Muster Roll book in a bid to account for the fate of everyone aboard.
The game is presented in stark, monochromatic style with the player switching between the text-based interaction reminiscent to that of Papers, Please and first-person exploration in which you investigate points of interest across the Obra Dinn. The low resolution gives the ship a haunting sense of danger and intrigue that brings the horror unfolding in the flashback scenes to life with particle bursts of blood and bullets. It makes the job of an ‘insurance adjustor’ seem more like that of a noir detective with its moody lighting and dark palette – someone get this guy a trenchcoat and fedora.
Your primary goal in the game is to piece together all the evidence you collate from the doomed vessel and log each voyagers fate in the Crew Muster Roll book. You’ll have to ascertain how they died, possibly by whom and the given instrument of death. The empty ship is one giant puzzle you’ll have to put back together if you ever want to unravel the truth of the Obra Dinn’s mysterious end.
Return of the Obra Dinn is set to launch on PC & Mac later in the year. There’s also an early demo build of the game available here.
Jon loves the experimental nature of indie games, and has written about them for the likes of Eurogamer, PCGamer and GameReactor. As editor of The Indie Game Website, Jon is responsible for the overall content direction of the website, and enjoys moving things around in our Google Calendar.