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Return Of The Obra Dinn mysteriously floats into port today

Time to get your sea legs on and step aboard a ship full of maritime mysteries in Return Of The Obra Dinn, released today and latest from Lucas Pope, creator of Papers Please. A first-person murder mystery presented in grainy monochrome, players fill the well-worn shoes of an insurance investigator for the East India Company in 1807. A ship long thought lost has turned up again, and all the crew have been replaced with very dead skeletons. There’s a mystery to solve, and only a deductive genius (who can also see the past) can crack the case. Sleuth on.

Return Of The Obra Dinn is proof that you can do a lot with very little. In this case, just solid white or black dots, creating an image that could be hashed out with pencil, given enough time. There’s been a huge amount of effort put into retaining this look even in the sketch-art stills of the game. This little development clip shows how a 3D render was drawn over in order to make it look like a authentically historical pencil sketch.  The end result is a game using cutting-edge 3D tech to render out something that looks like it’s from that early monochrome era of Mac games.

As the trailer above shows, the core of Return Of The Obra Dinn is piecing together the truth behind the vanishing ship. Granting you Sherlock-like powers of deduction (by that I mean ‘pulling clues wholesale out of the ether’) is a magic pocket-watch that lets you hear the final moments of crew-members, before having a chance to walk around the time-frozen moment of their death. Piece the bits together, and a picture forms. Hopefully. If you’re smart. While I’m not sure who’s on the job, a poke around the RPS Treehouse noteboard says a review is in the works.

Return Of The Obra Dinn is out now on Steam, Humble and GOG for £15.49/€16.79/$20.

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Dominic Tarason


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