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Return Of The Obra Dinn review
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by Katana

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.
Serge Ulankin
That's a splendid review. Thanks!
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Other reviews10

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»
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 ...
Translated by
Microsoft from Deutsch
10/10 Extremely successful Game. Exciting but also tricky Story (you actually have to think about the whole Game). Brilliant Soundtrack and an equally brilliant Graphic Style. The Game can be done in 6-10 Hours, but the related Deaths are extremely entertaining. Verdict: Buy the Shit and get into the Olga
Translated by
Microsoft from Deutsch
This Game is easy in all the Vocal. It is really exciting to see the individual Fates + to find out how what happened. The whole Vibe in the Game Is Goosebump Relieving, because of the Music, the Fates and how it dovetails in a header. You should already have a Pen and Block to do this. :) Final Check: Rehighly recommended For the Price! : 3
Translated by
Microsoft from Deutsch
When I was able to test the first few Minutes Of Demo of this Game, it had already happened around me. The minimalist Style, in my Opinion, underlines the Narrative Style immensely and draws attention to the Essentials: To solve The Mystery of the Obra Dinn. I was very surprised to see that the Game was now released. So I will probably play this Pearl for the next Few days instead of Shooters or Role-playing games. The Game is far from something for everyone. But those who like to puzzle and knock should get their Money's worth here.
Translated by
Microsoft from Deutsch
Very cool Game concept. Once you start, you don't want to stop at all. The Game Idea Elucidated the Fate of the Entire Crew of the Obra Dinn and at the same time act like a Detective has succeeded very well. The Design is cleverly chosen and gives the Game a special Touch. I would have liked to have had a little longer Dialogues and in some Places I could have used a Tip. That hasn't stopped me playing until the End though and as much as it can keep puzzling. The Music and the Sound are also great, by the way. Headphones are a good Choice here:-). Thank you Lukas Pope-Super Game Experience-Continue like this!!
Favorite Thing: It's an incredibly creative game with a great story ... involving monsters!
Least Favorite Thing: Some of the identifications are a little too vague.

Date Completed: 2019-03-04
Playtime: ~ 7h
Enjoyment: 8/10
Recommendation: It's definitely a game to be experiences.