Average Playtime: 5 hours

Return Of The Obra Dinn

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In 1802, the merchant ship "Obra Dinn" set out from London for the Orient with over 200 tons of trade goods. Six months later it hadn't met its rendezvous point at the Cape of Good Hope and was declared lost at sea.

Early this morning of October 14th, 1807, the Obra Dinn drifted into port with sails damaged and no visible crew. As insurance adjustor for the East India Company's London Office, find means to board the ship and recover the Crew Muster Roll book for assessment.

("Obra" is pronounced like "Cobra" without the C).

From the author:


I want to challenge myself so this'll be a very different game from anything I've done before, including Papers Please. There'll be less creativity with the gameplay and instead I want to experiment with the rendering, story, and a few technical features. Right now I have only a rough idea about the narrative. I'm hoping to capture a compelling mystery with suspense and twists in the limited space of an old merchant sailing ship. It won't be the typical "collect items and look for clues" structure. There's a slightly cool gameplay hook but I won't go into details on that until much later.


I'll try to keep this (https://forums.tigsource.com/index.php?topic=40832.0) devlog lively as I make progress. Because the gameplay itself is more standard, there probably won't be as many creative updates as the Papers Please devlog. I will post lots of pictures and builds as soon as I'm able. Things will likely also move slower than Papers Please did too, at least at the start. P,P still takes a good amount of my time so there's less chance for me to maintain a laser-like focus on one project like last time. The lower bound for finishing this game is around 3 months but realistically I think it'll take me around half a year. My Maya skills are pretty rusty so I expect the modeling/animation to take the most time.

1-bit Rendering

My first computer was a Mac Plus. I've always had a nostalgia-softened spot in my heart for 1-bit graphics. I'd like to capture the detailed black & white look of old Mac games in a realtime 1st person game. I plan to push it grittier and less cartoon-like than those old games; the hard part will be keeping everything legible without it becoming an unreadable mess of dithered pixels. One interesting problem with 1-bit rendering is that it doesn't scale well for images and it compresses to video like shit - so YouTube stuff may look really poor. We'll see how it goes.

Unity 3D

I'm gonna use Unity for this one. I fell in love with Haxe/OpenFL on my last project but unfortunately the 3D situation is not that great there yet. Also, it's time to finally see why 90% of the indie scene is using Unity. I have a good amount of experience with 3D games and the few days I've played around with Unity so far have been pretty productive. The animated title screen scene up there (with post-processing shaders and all) was created in one day. I now have unrealistically high hopes.

Release date
Lucas Pope
Age rating
17+ Mature

System requirements for Nintendo Switch

System requirements for PlayStation 4

System requirements for Xbox One

System requirements for PC

  • OS: Windows 7 or better
  • Processor: 2 GHz Intel i5 or better
  • Memory: 4 GB RAM
  • Graphics: Discrete GPU
  • Storage: 2 GB available space
  • Additional Notes: Requires 720p or higher output resolution

System requirements for macOS

  • OS: macOS Sierra
  • Processor: 2 GHz Intel i5 or better
  • Memory: 4 GB RAM
  • Graphics: Discrete GPU
  • Storage: 2 GB available space
  • Additional Notes: Requires 720p or higher output resolution
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Last Modified: May 9, 2024

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Return Of The Obra Dinn reviews and comments

A unique and beautiful game, that I couldn't put down.  Such a fun puzzle to solve.  and the music is perfect for the mood of the game.
Was originally going to give this a 'recommended' rating, kept playing and decided to settle for 'exceptional' because the rush I got from piecing together the strange and tragic events of the ship was very satisfying. I couldn't stop playing.

That said, I do have a few criticisms for you to keep in mind should you play it:

1) The game can be hard to SEE at times. Like most of the deaths are pretty easy to figure out, but there were a few times when I couldn't decipher what was happening. If you have low vision, keep that in mind. 
2) The gameplay can get really repetitive. The gameplay mechanic is basically this: You find a corpse (using the book as a guide in a few cases), flip out your pocketwatch, travel back in time to their death, wait for the scene to end, press the action button to be led to another corpse, repeat.
3) You will either need a guide to complete the game or have a LOT of patience as it's slow paced and difficult. 
4) Getting an 100% achievement rate can be annoying as one achievement is basically a joke.

This is a neat game, but it's not for everyone. If you enjoy story-rich games and taking your time, this is definitely checking out, but if the above criticisms seem like they might be a problem, watch a playthrough first and see if this is something you'd like. 
«Blew my mind»
What an amazing game!
«Blew my mind»
«That ending!»
Just as I finished the game, I finally mastered the systems within it. Now that I've got that novel investigation gameplay down, I just want more mysteries to solve!

- Setting is unique, tightly controlled, and exquisitely detailed. Don't let the art style fool you.
- Lo-fi art style helps keep the player from being overwhelmed with information in a game where anything you see can be a clue.
- Voice acting is clear, plain, and simple. Characters don't feel like characters—just people in a world that doesn't really exist.
- Things aren't explained for you—attention must be paid to the world. This really sets the game apart as an experience.
«Blew my mind»
«Better with friends»
I wish I didn't know all the answers because I immediately wanted to play it again after I beat it. It'll be a great day when a few years pass and realize I've forgotten what happened.
«Sit back and relax»
«OST on repeat»
The way Return of the Obra Dinn tells its story shows what non-linear media is capable of. It´s worth every penny and every minute you have to invest to figure out the ships secrets.
«Blew my mind»
«Can’t stop playing»
I wish I could say I enjoyed Return of the Obra Dinn as much as other players. There's definitely an innovative core here - how many games have you viewing the moment of someone's death and attempting to piece together context with no hinting to confirm when you're getting close? RotOD will feel favorable to many people who feel detective games barely request any intelligence of the player ("Which was the murder weapon? This piece of testimony, the bag of gummy bears, or this bloody knife?") I can also say that the old MacOS style graphical filter did more to give the game a unique look than harm it. But I definitely feel like there's problems here for a game that finally learns to ask a lot of you as a detective.

The biggest problem at work is one of pacing. The game outwardly reveals the manner of death of a person, and their killer's face, as soon as you find their body. This normally follows with a timed/forced sequence leading to the reveal of another body via that flashback; sometimes multiple times in a row, leaving no time for you to parse the clues you're being given. This can be exciting, discovering what sorts of unexpected events lead to someone's death, but as soon as you have seen these scenes and are handed the notebook to get to work, that's when the game kind of drops off in interest.

You've been shown these interesting turns of events, and then your only task is to place the name, rank, and method of death of the person you found. There's no questioning of motivations, no reveals about how things actually happened, and generally except for one or two scenes no hints at a deeper lore than "These people tragically died to freak occurrences"; and you're not even asked about these curious elements when they're shown. Names to faces - that's all you're ever doing.

This can be tricky at times, reliant on finding someone's name being mentioned in a sparse scene earlier, or making inferences based on ship role (or worse, race assumptions). Far too often it seems to rely on process of elimination among a certain crew rank, or on knowledge not easily identified from within the game (my game had glitches with alt-tabbing to make this worse). But you can safely know the whole time that you're not going to earn any more interesting twists or reveals besides whatever invented lore you can write onto fanfiction.net.

I think I could understand how someone especially clever might feel Ace Attorney's formula of finding contradictions in statements can be sometimes too easy, but I think while Obra Dinn's core mechanic has more innovation and difficulty to it, it's ultimately not very satisfying. Seeing the "Three more names correct!" notification and a very slow progress bar on the overall completion felt far less compelling than others.

The game for some bizarre reason gives you a pointless option to voluntarily have a "bad ending" when you're midway through, and I took this as an invitation to say I'd had enough and that this wasn't any fun. The woman who contracted the journal's completion couldn't pay me enough to finish this work.
Translated by
Microsoft from Deutsch
Different but great. The Graphics in the Game are ultimately as awary as you would have to fear with the Videos and also contribute a lot to the Story. Anyone who is into puzzle/Detective Donns and interactive storytelling should strike.
Translated by
Microsoft from Deutsch
This game is actually the best Detective-like Game I have ever played. RIP my Friday. Obra Dinn > Any AAA title you can mind of. Grafics are Godlike, music fits perfect. Gameplay is smooth, even on my Potato PC. Translation is flawless. Buy this. Just Buy this. 11/10
Translated by
Microsoft from Deutsch
It's totally unclear to me what it's all about, what to do and what Buttons are intended for what. What is the purpose of the Book and how do you use it? Is it part of the Game to find out how To operate? For me, unfortunately, wasted Time and money. Maybe I'm just not smart enough ...
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