Return of the Obra Dinn deserves a thread, matey!


Not quite. There’s two parts to a detective game. The investigation (finding the facts) and the deduction (figuring out how the facts fit together).

The deduction part tends to be pretty forgiving: no matter how badly the screw up the mechanical implementation of actually expressing the results of the deductions, the player was probably actually doing the work ahead of the pace set by the game anyway. So all you need is a story that works.

The investigation part is much tougher. The only systems I’ve seen work so far are either based on text adventure style natural language parsers, or just having a bunch of text to read (or cheesy FMV to watch). The first one is unacceptable in the context of modern games, and the second is limited in the amount of detail they can pack into a single scene.

So I think what Obra Dinn does for the investigation part is interesting because it’s a third option that seems to work, but allows for a lot more detail since it’s the player’s job to decide where to concentrate.

The deduction system on the other hand is interesting only insofar that none of the normal ones would have worked here (can’t use any sort of combining of facts since there are no facts, can’t use the “choose where to investigate next” system since the game relies on the player seeing every scene, and can’t use the “answer some questions at the end” system since the game needed some sort of incremental feedback).

In Obra Dinn you’re looking for a weapon on the ground since you’re assuming there’s going to be a weapon on the ground. You’re looking at where people are, what their expressions are, who they’re talking to, where they are pointing, etc.

In a game with interaction points you’re running around the room not really looking at anything until you’ve interacted with everything, and then that’s your set of clues. We know it doesn’t work because it’s been done hundreds of times, and it’s never worked.

I agree. But apparently Lucas Pope had his reasons:


I’m at 45 fates solved, and feeling like I’m spinning my wheels a bit. The main sticking point seems to be with The Escape:

I feel like I’ve identified the four people who disappear, but I’m not sure how to ascertain their location. And it really seems like I should be right about the man who is shot, and the man stabbed, but I’m clearly off because neither has been triggered for a confirmation and I’ve had them pegged for a bit.

Also, who/where the hell is the ship’s steward?


Read the book again


Okay, so I managed to solve the first part accidentally–I’ve been through the book back and forth a number of times… what was I missing there?


My interpretation was:

When another group of people are leaving on a boat, there’s dialogue along the lines of “sailing east to land on the canaries”. So that seems to be the way the currents flow, since they’re obviously not going to row for hundreds of miles. Look in the map for the location of the ship during the scene you’re interested in, trace a line east, and it’ll hit Africa.


That makes sense. I must have missed that particular line of dialogue and was just looking at the map in general.

I’m still stuck on the ship’s steward, and my confidence about the purser seems to be misplaced, somehow.


I thought the doctor’s message at the start of the book says he’s writing from Morocco. It seemed a bit of a stretch to just assume that’s where they all ended up, but it was enough to make that educated stab and see it confirmed. I think jsnell’s deduction based off the sailing instructions (which I missed) is further confirmation.


Okay, I must have totally missed that. Maybe I saw that early on, but when flipping through the book later I don’t recall seeing that part.

Anyway, I just finished this. As a whole, I loved it, and it’s my second favorite puzzle game behind The Witness, but it still kind of stumbled towards the end. Given that the final chapter was locked away, I was expecting more of a revelation behind it, but it pretty much unfolded as expected. Still, if it weren’t for RDR2, this would be my game of the year.


Oh, I really liked the ending. The story as a whole got more macabre than I was expecting.

Also, can we talk about the little shining spot on the horizon, which I think implies that the sirens (with a shell) are watching you from a distance?


That’s the point of the story, I think.

They bring the ship to port safely, as per the bargain.



The game told me I did a good job solving the tutorial sequence. I feel so proud of myself.

My only confusion so far is why it lists a certain number of people present when there’s been at least one case where there’s more than that. My framerate also goes crazy sometimes. An alt-tab fixes it.

After I finish the game, I look forward to some sort of video breakdown for how you might be able to deduce the three triangle ones based on the information provided. I hope someone’s done this.


Huh. I don’t remember (or didn’t notice) a case like that. When you say it lists certain people, do you mean it shows them as not blurred out on the picture?


For example:

In one of the first memories on the gun deck, you can clearly see a corpse there and zooming on it will highlight the person on the crew picture. But that person isn’t highlighted on the crew picture for that particular scene.

It turned out to not matter at all. I think it was either an oversight or the game designer trying to manage how many new faces he throws at you.

So far I’m pleased with all the new surprises even after spoiling the first 10 minutes of the game! 5 hours into it now, played it all day.


But here’s the most horrifying sight on the Obra Dinn:

Are these... toilets??


What I remember noticing is that he’s very deliberate to only highlight those who are still alive in a given moment or are literally the ones dying at that moment. Any previously killed folks are treated differently. But whether that’s perfectly consistent, I won’t claim to know.

Your toilet pic just reminded me of the moment when a crew member gets squished by the kraken while taking a dump off the fore end of the ship. Oh, the sounds! Did everyone else interpret that the same way I did?


Finished. I had to look up one thing: the significance of the bunk tag numbers. I’m kicking myself because I noticed it multiple times but failed to write it down in my notes, which hopefully would’ve triggered something in my brain hours later when I needed to narrow down the characters for each nationality.

Anyway, I spent a lot of time figuring things out as early as possible and only accidentally guessed a few answers before I was ready. That’s a pretty good success rate for me with a game like this!

There was almost one sequence quirk that bothered me, but I just looked at it again and I see it’s completely consistent:

Good attention to detail

Topman Maba is on the rigging at the start of Soldiers of the Sea and somehow ends up in ambush position at the bottom deck by the end of the chapter. But he should’ve been able to get down there using the stairs on the other side of the ship and get into position before the beast made it across the orlop deck to the stern side.


Pretty great interview with Lucas Pope over at Ars Technica:


After hearing Giant bomb gush over this during their game of the year deliberations I really want to get this. But I know the moment I buy it on steam it will be announced for switch.


It’s a 10 hour one-and-done experience, doesn’t seem like something you have to play on Switch.