Return of the Obra Dinn

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Return of the Obra Dinn

Post by Android » Fri Oct 26, 2018 5:35 pm

Everyone who likes indie games, is not afraid of non-Pearian graphics, and enjoys unique games should play Return of the Obra Dinn, especially if they liked the (in my opinion) fabulous Papers, Please by the same author.

I won't mention the monochrome Macintosh graphics because they really aren't the selling point for me. The graphics are actually better than some reviews make them seem; if you play a few "memories" you'll see some pretty cool and definitely non-retro scenes. The audio (mostly voiceovers and some ambience music) is definitely top-notch.

So what's the game about? The Obra Dinn is a merchant ship from the East India company that was presumed lost, and has washed ashore with everyone dead or missing. You're an investigator tasked with finding out what happened to each crew member. The game has a fantasy element: when you find a corpse, you activate a magic pocketwatch that takes you to the scene of this person's death, with a few lines of spoken dialogue by either the victim or the people nearby. This scene is frozen in time -- everyone is static -- but also 3D, so you can inspect things from different angles and find clues about what happened, and sometimes even unrelated to this particular death scene. For each person, you have to find his or her name, the cause of death and -- if it applies -- who or what was the culprit. Often the cause of death is obvious (e.g. stabbed by another sailor) but the identities of the people involved are not, and occasionally the game will trick you into choosing the wrong cause of death.

obradinn.jpg
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You start with some low hanging fruit; I'll spoil a bit and say one of the first people you find is the captain, and it's obvious he's the captain and what he's doing, and soon you find how he died as well. But it gets progressively harder soon; you'll have to disambiguate people by their nationality (sometimes going by the accent when they speak), by their surname, by which part of the ship you find them working or sleeping in certain scenes, etc.

And the overall story that unfolds about the doomed Obra Dinn, "told" non-linearly by the corpses as you find them, seems cool enough so far.

Everyone who whines games are not original or engrossing anymore should go buy this.

Grady
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Re: Return of the Obra Dinn

Post by Grady » Fri Oct 26, 2018 7:58 pm

Oh wow this finally came out. I played an early demo of it a couple years back and was super into it. Just thought of it again recently and wondered what became of it. Couldn't remember the name nor the developer though. While I love the art style, unfortunately it triggers my Irlen Syndrome something fierce. I struggled to tell what I was looking at quite often and I got a headache from it. That said, I still want to play it. The mechanics are really up my alley.

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Re: Return of the Obra Dinn

Post by Android » Fri Oct 26, 2018 10:24 pm

I think it was released a few days or weeks ago. It's currently about $6 on Steam and $9 on GOG. It's well worth it in my opinion, and it's clear this is a labor of love. I love how you are forced to reinterpret what you see in one scene once you see what happened immediately before (trying hard not to avoid spoilers...).

As for the graphics: I didn't like the default palette, so I changed it to the crisper "LCD" palette, which is actually B&W without the sepia/brownish background of the Macintosh default.

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Re: Return of the Obra Dinn

Post by sunface » Mon Oct 29, 2018 8:57 am

I like the look of the game and saw the trailer a couple of weeks ago and really liked the look of it. I have two thoughts on this:

Irlen Syndrome: What is this? I looked it up and the list of symptoms seem really long and vague. Like a lot of "trouble reading" symptoms that kind of look like the person may just be bad at reading. I'm not editorializing, just saying that I don't really understand what it is from the very little research I did at this page:

https://irlen.com/what-is-irlen-syndrome/

Return of the Obra Dinn: The think that most stuck out at me from the trailer is how you'd see a still image that reminds me of, like, the old Hobbit game for c64. But when I googled it I think the old apple version is much better.

s6.jpg
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Point is, I used to look at pictures like this and imagine them moving around. At best you'd get one item would move, or disappear (e.g., there's a sword on the sofa. "Get sword". you take the sword. The sword image disappears). This game is pretty much wish fulfillment for 10 year old Sunface; it's like, finally, the old static 2d images from 1984 move around.

Problem is, I'm not sure there's people not in their 30s and 40s that would find this art style interesting. Unless you played around on an old 8 bit machine from the early 1980s, is there a nostalgia aspect to this game? Otherwise, is it just ugly for modern gamers?
This post should now end this thread due to its definitive embodiment of the subject.

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Re: Return of the Obra Dinn

Post by Grady » Mon Oct 29, 2018 10:05 am

I've had Irlen Syndrome my whole life but only recently figured out that there was a name for it and that I'm not the only person with it. For me, it manifests most in monochrome images. Especially harsh, solid black and white. Shading helps. Multiple shades of grey and not just harsh black on white are better, but it's still difficult. I have a hard time telling what I'm supposed to be seeing in the image. My brain has a hard time parsing what is what. It makes my eyes tired. Makes me tired in general. The best way I've found to explain it, is the first notable example I can think of it ever coming up in my life.

My grandmother had this cross-stitch sign-thing on the bookshelf in their living room. It was the word/name JESUS in big block letters. I think it was a craft that everyone did at bible study or something. My aunt had one too. Anyway, I'll just use the letter E as the example:

Image Image

Here it is inverted and not, to help you get the idea. The thing on her shelf was inverted, the letters in the brighter color. For me, I always had a really difficult time seeing the letters. In this case, the letter E. Instead, I saw the shape that made up the E. The negative space. The shape being like two docks coming out on right-hand side of a small pool of water. I always had to really concentrate to see the letter E. Or, well, in her case, the whole word, "JESUS."

I don't have trouble reading black text on white background, or white text on black background personally. But only because I was forced to learn to do it, at the same time I was learning to read in general with everyone else. It's not a problem at all for me. Except it does make my eyes tired after a while. I have a problem of falling asleep while reading books. Doesn't matter how awake I am, or how much coffee I've had, or how exciting the book is. After a while, I fall asleep, or just have to take a break. Reading Manga is hard. Only in the last couple years I've gotten into reading Manga, and even then, only occasionally, but it's really fucking hard. Because 99% of Manga is black & white. Again, the shading helps (if there is any), but holy fuck does that shit make me fall asleep and/or get a headache. There's some apps that exist that put a color filter over things and that helps a lot. Put a green filter over an image from a Manga that I couldn't fucking tell anything of what I was meant to be seeing, and suddenly I can see it. It's still a little tiring, but it's possible. The ones that are completely harsh 100% blacks on 100% whites are still damned hard, but they're possible.

Like the two screenshots in this page so far. The one in the first post I can make out more easily in those sepia tones. The one in the mac shot, less so. But it's got a lot of good shading work there, so even that I can see. It's just harder.

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Re: Return of the Obra Dinn

Post by Governor Dick » Mon Oct 29, 2018 3:56 pm

What about interracial porn

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Re: Return of the Obra Dinn

Post by Android » Wed Oct 31, 2018 3:31 pm

sunface wrote:
Mon Oct 29, 2018 8:57 am
Problem is, I'm not sure there's people not in their 30s and 40s that would find this art style interesting. Unless you played around on an old 8 bit machine from the early 1980s, is there a nostalgia aspect to this game? Otherwise, is it just ugly for modern gamers?
I don't think it's ugly. The nostalgia factor for me is near zero: I never owned a Macintosh and the early monochrome PC games looked nothing like this. This is a modern game for modern gamers. The graphics are fully 3D and actually pretty cool; I'd say "see for yourself on youtube", but almost any image would be a spoiler, and this is a game that's really ruined by spoilers.

As for gameplay, think of "Clue" but with better deduction (instead of simply guessing or ruling out the impossible), so that when you guess an identity you get an actual, well-deserved rush of excitement.

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Banjo
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Re: Return of the Obra Dinn

Post by Banjo » Thu Nov 01, 2018 9:30 pm

That looks damn cool, but I had to a youtube review video to get some feeling what the game itself is. I think I am sold, thanks Andy! Would have missed this without the heads up.

This is by the same chap who did Papers, Please? Whoa. That game always seemed like one of Lachie's things to me (like Ball Blazing Fantasy), so I never played it. Is it actually legit good? Also I wonder if Lachie has starved to death...

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Re: Return of the Obra Dinn

Post by Android » Sat Nov 03, 2018 12:51 pm

"Papers, Please" is legit good and deserves the rave reviews it got. Good call though: it does look like something Lachie would have made, haha! But the gameplay is solid, surprisingly engaging for a game about a paper-pushing bureaucrat, and it's totally unlike anything else you've played.

The (un?)official short film inspired by the game is pretty cool -- and sort of true to the gameplay itself! I guess it even contains mild spoilers:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YFHHGETsxkE

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Re: Return of the Obra Dinn

Post by Banjo » Sun Nov 04, 2018 8:07 am

Cool, thanks again :) I was quite sure that Papers, Please is a good one, but the Lachieness of the looks really has always amused me. I guess I have to give both of these a proper try...

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