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Monochrome maritime mystery Return Of The Obra Dinn sets sail next week

Dead men apparently tell some tales

A grand crime at sea might be a tough job to investigate but an insurance agent doesn't give up so easy, according to Return Of The Obra Dinn, next from Lucas Pope - creator of Papers Please. After four and a half years in development, the low-fi mystery adventure is nearly ready. Pope reckons it's just one week and a day from being ship-shape, launching on October 18th. Armed with nothing but your deductive wit and a pocket-watch that lets you view fragments of history, you're piecing together why the Obra Dinn's crew shrank from 51 to skellingtons. Below, a trailer.

Its the kind of mystery that gets any kind of genre fan's brain itching - in 1802, the Obra Dinn sets out from London. Six months later, it was declared lost. Five years later, it drifts into port, crewed by nothing but echoes and (very inanimate) skeletons, and historical omni-villains the East India Company want to know why - for insurance purposes, of course. Cue a real-time, first person adventure where you stalk the halls of the ship, crew manifest and notes in hand, trying to piece together the full story of the disaster.

Watch on YouTube

While it would take a forensic super-scientist to deduce the truth just through observation, you've got a pocket-watch that lets you peek into the past, hearing the voices of the crew and seeing their ends frozen in time. Not that you'll get the full picture, the motivations or understand what happened to all the crew just from one snapshot. It all reminds me a bit of Her Story, only more tactile and visual, piecing together shreds of history to assemble a final chain of events. Exactly the kind of quiet, solitary adventure I can see myself getting into on a cold Autumn night.

Return Of The Obra Dinn launches next Thursday, October 18th. You can find it on Steam, Humble and later GOG for $20 - around £15. There's a (very outdated) demo on its Itch page here.

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Return of the Obra Dinn

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Dominic Tarason