Return Of The Obra Dinn is something truly special. I haven’t played a game before or since that forces such high levels of engagement and thought, whilst somehow not feeling like a chore or a hassle.
Dropped off off the coast of Falmouth, you’re tasked with learning what happened to the entire crew of the ill-fated Obra Dinn merchant ship, which mysteriously drifted ashore with heavy damage and no crew. Playing as an insurance investigator for the East India Company isn’t exactly the most delicious or exciting prospect, but your magic pocket watch brings things into sharper focus.
It allows you to see the exact moment a person died, letting you use contextual clues and the scene of the crime to deduce the identity and fate of each individual, recorded in your diary.
It all seems rather overwhelming at first – 60 crew members, and you have to identify every single outcome? The game does an excellent job of easing you in though, and you’ll be rewarded for keeping an eye on every single little detail present.
It’d be ridiculous to mention Return Of The Obra Dinn without mentioning the stunning visual design – if you don’t immediately fall in love with how this game looks then it won’t be for you. The striking monochrome is extremely in your face, and some may not enjoy it, but it honestly left me in awe of how ironically alive this ship feels, and how satisfying it is to get to know every nook and cranny of the place.
The only knock against Return Of The Obra Dinn is that it’ll ruin most other detective games. Games that don’t ask as much of the player and reward them accordingly. It’s just really bloody good. The soundtrack absolutely bangs too.