Review | Return of the Obra Dinn (Console Version)
Some things are better to experience on your own. Sure, you can watch a video, read up on, or hear how great something is, but the self-participation will take it to much greater heights. This is exactly the case with indie developer Lucas Pope’s puzzle-mystery game Return of the Obra Dinn. The game was initially released for PC and Mac just over a year ago, and is now available on consoles. Frankly, the less that is said before playing this game, the better.
For the sake of providing some sort of detail, the game is an homage to the days of 1-bit graphics with fantastic visual, gameplay, and storytelling mechanics. You play from a first-person perspective as an insurance adjuster who is attempting to solve what happened aboard the titular ship and its crew four years prior. This is done by using a magical pocket watch that allows the player to rewind time. You’ll also have a logbook of the ship, which becomes more and more complete as the game progresses. Alright, enough background information! The real question is, should you play it?
The originality of Obra Dinn is overwhelming. There’s nothing out there quite like it (not even the developer’s other games). The music is fittingly haunting, occasionally blissful, and perfectly crafted throughout. The monotone graphics are masterful on the default Macintosh setting, but players are able to switch to various other styles, if they desire.
The feeling (and accompanying sounds) of correctly deducing what happened to the people aboard the ship is incredibly rewarding. With barely any hand holding, but enough to where you’re not wandering around in the dark without a flashlight, the game does a great job of rewarding perceptive and logical players.
Most of the negative things to say are minor nitpicks. The doors on the ship automatically close too quickly after opening them. To be honest, I don’t know why they automatically close at all. Having to wait for scenes to end upon your first viewing sometimes leads to frustration.
Return of the Obra Dinn is a must play not just for fans of puzzle games, but fans of games in general. The game achieves exactly what it sets out to do, and then does so much more. For the price you pay, there’s a lot to explore, and multiple endings to discover.
Final Score: 9.5 out of 10