Return of the Obra Dinn deserves a thread, matey!

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.

This was a really good interview with Lucas Pope:

The Obra Dinn talk starts around 21:30 and lasts to the end. Some surprising answers to things like why you can’t use the book to teleport to scenes, or why the cause of death selection is so forgiving.

I restarted the game after giving up a couple of hours in when it came out, due to lack of time … It has such a great atmosphere, that I don’t mind replaying stuff… (why nobody told me that Papers, Please was also great??)

Obra Done!

I’ve steered clear of this thread until I finished it and last night I managed to identify all the crew after about 10 hours or so.

Basically, Return of the Obra Dinn is why I play games. God, I thought it was damn near perfect. The last time I felt like this after a game was Quadrilateral Cowboy (cheers again @Left_Empty!).

So there’s a number of things I adore about it, but ultimately it’s the intelligence of the design and the respect and trust it has in the player. It gives you some tools, a few pointers lovingly synchronised with the audio and away you go. Identify the crew, leave and send the journal back. It reminded me in some ways of Gone Home. Arriving at an intimate space to piece together what’s been going on and, hey, there’s an ominous big piece missing.

Here’s a game with 1-bit dithered two colour visuals, practically no animation and yet I found it more evocative than most AAA games. The sound design is absolutely critical in this. The blank screen as you hear the events culminating in the death of someone and the visual reveal is a masterclass in stoking your imagination then shocking you with the reality and, indeed, the haunting musical swells. The soundtrack did at times seem at odds with various scenes but somehow Lucas Pope managed to get it all to work. It’s astounding. And I’ve witnessed thousands of deaths in videogames but few have affected me quite as much as the ones in Return of the Obra Dinn. Some of the screams and noises are blood curdling (particularly Maba being torn apart). Like, certain memories I did not like revisiting to try and brush up on certain clues.

Another amazing thing is that the game constantly surprised me with its spectacular scenes. I went into Obra Dinn knowing as little as possible and, watching the trailers and looking at the store page screenshots now, I love that so little is revealed. When you see Abigail’s death and look up to see a giant tentacle, then back away and realise that the whole ship is being attacked by a kraken is just… well, I literally gasped ‘fucking hell’. And that wasn’t the last time. The way that the game slowly peels back layers of the story out of order makes for some really interesting dynamics too. So one of my favourite scenes is when a topman gets struck by lightning and you’re up in the rigging. If you look down you can see the ‘soldiers of the sea’ climbing up the sides of the ship, the rest of the crew oblivious to the horror that’s about to take place. That was another ‘fucking hell’ moment.

But ultimately, trying to work out who’s who is immensely gratifying. One of the first characters you encounter was one of the last ones I identified despite him having a single arrow above his portrait for most of the game. It was only during a memory where one of the mates shouts ‘Brennan!’ and if you walk out and look at one of the characters he’s cupping his ear to hear. A tiny thing but such is the game’s attention to detail and what makes it so rewarding. I loved having to make a mental note of the clothes on the Chinese topmen’s legs hanging out of their hammocks to later identify them up in the rigging in a totally different memory. Or using dialogue in one memory to ascertain the fate of a crew member who went missing in another.

A pretty devious thing the game does is allow you to go on to different decks when something big is happening elsewhere, probably revealing something of importance. There’s a lot of ‘Oh!’ moments when you go wandering off during a memory.

I was also on the lookout for the pet monkey after seeing that the surgeon didn’t have it during Escape! Awesome to see it turn up as the lazerette ‘key’ to the Bargain chapter. Genius.

Anyway, yeah, Return of the Obra Dinn is a remarkable videogame that everyone should play.

God, I thought I was the only one with this song in my head.

@Nightgaunt and @jsnell on the ending: ohhhhhh. I’d not thought about that despite it being a constant enigma that I wanted to crack. Wow.

Aye, and the illustrator dies because he didn’t use them! Or perhaps they were engaged… @Nightgaunt yep, I interpreted it the same! :-)

The real impediment for me to actually finish this game is that I have to go to every corpse whenever I want to see a scene again. I wish I could just jump to the scene from the book. Or at the very least make movement faster.

I got stuck after the 6th identification, but don’t want to look up solutions… and I am not sure where to procede … there is this tattooed guy, and the game is taunting me, that I should be able to identify him, but I don’t see where the information for him is. I will try tonight, if I can make further progress. I love the game as it is, but it is a hard puzzle game.

My advice would be:

Explore each scene as fully as you can. Sometimes you can go on to other decks during memories (away from the death scene) that will reveal key info. Look closely and think of the dialogue, body language, proximity/potential relationship to other crew members. Listen out for accents that may reveal someone’s nationality. Note what people are wearing and where they appear, in the sketch and during memories. Sometimes what people say can be enough to clue you in. Cross reference clues to zero in on potential hunches.

The thing with Obra Dinn is that it takes time for all these elements to coalesce into something solid enough to give you answers, but that’s what makes it so exciting and satisfying! Stick with it @newbrof. I will say that I can imagine this game being very difficult if you leave too much time between sessions because it relies on you being able to remember bits and pieces. Often I’d be like ‘Ohhh! That guy said X and that correlates with Y from earlier in the story!’

I’d put all those hints inside a spoiler tag. Figuring out what you’re supposed to pay attention is half the fun.

@newbrof: There should be no “getting stuck” until you’ve seen every scene. You don’t need to identify every person right when it’s technically possible. Just carry on with the game, and you’ll find more people and more information.

after the first six people, I have explored many more scenes, until no new scenes were coming in. Now I left the game on hiatus for a couple of weeks, this makes it hard to come back, but I’ll try…

this is the second time I restarted the game, and I got stuck at the same position in the game, I am probably missing the continuation of the scenes somewhere …

I know for me it wasn’t obvious at first that there’s a context in which you can use the watch that is slightly different than the first one you encounter. Is that maybe the issue?

can you enlighten me in spoiler tags, please? I know that you can use the watch to go back to a scene and then to follow a trail leading to a new corpse. Is there something else?

Ah, yeah sorry. Spoiler tagged.