Return of the Obra Dinn

Empty deck if the sun is trying to burn — walking in this solitude, the creaky boards, I began to believe that everyone here just incinerated without a trace, without a handful of ashes. But, not yet having reached a cherished question — “how, then, returned to the ship?”—I notice swarming flies near the captain’s cabin. They dance their sweltering waltz over someone’s bones-and then the dance of St. Vitus comes pocket chronometer. It was given to me along with a book — a ship’s magazine, which I somehow have to fill. The task is not trivial, but I seem to begin to understand what the person who gave me this inventory meant — the events that left the “Obra Dinn” without a crew stand in front of my eyes.

I hear voices, I hear the shot and see the scene that led to the appearance on the flooring of the upper deck of the corpse. But who is it? What motivates a person razraditi musket? Where’s everyone? In my hands, a list of the crew, a couple of paintings written by the ship’s artist (they can find all who participated in the voyage), the plan of the ship and the map of its route — it seems to be necessary to answer these questions yourself.


Reverse chronicle of events

Passing through the deck from the top to the bottom and back, following the unwinding ball of time that does not flow in Return of the Obra Dinn in one direction, and staggers like a sailor during a storm, we gradually get new information. We watch static scenes, listen to short recordings of the sound that accompanied the events, make notes either in the game magazine or in a regular notebook. We can move both in the present time and within these scenes, studying not only the epicenter in which the event takes place, but also the periphery: we notice who is busy with what, and seek out new signs that will help us identify all in the ship’s log. And their fate.

Find analogues Return of the Obra Dinn in the world of video games is almost impossible — comes to mind except that the gamer Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture, similar to the same search for “traces” of the past, manifested in the form of short scenes. But this is only part of the gameplay, and not the most important. Basis you can try to compare with Her Story, where we also recovered pieces of the story of the past, but it is not quite right. Most of all, the process is similar to solving Sudoku — the game confirms the correctness of our assumptions not as soon as they are made, but only in the presence of three true (at the very end — two). And we from the beginning to the end of the series of otgadok make up, which gradually fill in the entire field, helping to think out the rest of the elimination method. Only instead of numbers here — people’s lives.


You get the role of a detective is not looking for the perpetrators, and not even a person close to some of the crew members and is now looking for answers to questions aching soul. No, you’re an insurance agent. And the problem is not in finding right or wrong, and a thorough investigation of the truth for the subsequent transfer of funds to the families of the victims. Or collecting them from the account of those who showed themselves not in the best way. To certify and seal.

In Papers, Please paper work was accompanied by bouts of empathy, anger, despair, and attempts to somehow change the broken order of things. In Return of the Obra Dinn, we can not affect the fate of all those who are already inscribed in the book of Fate — but we feel the same flashes of sympathy and anger. And really get to know many of those who got into this grinder. We already know what end befell the boatswain, but he fights with the elements on the deck, showing enviable restraint, but he just stands and stares into the distance. What was he thinking? And here is painted Mars, full bravado — – his death is appalling, but where was his bravado, when needed show the courage? Isn’t he hiding behind that box while others are fighting?


At some point, Return of the Obra Dinn, which captures its mystery and original presentation from the beginning, begins to amaze — and reasonableness (the fate of each crew member can be solved without resorting to a simple search — even if I did not succeed), and how with the help of stingy expressive means Lucas Pope again avoids the mechanical dryness of the process. At some point I caught myself that I not only dreamed what was happening on the “Obra Dinn” (this happens if you were very immersed in something before going to bed), but the next morning came up with new solutions to the puzzles.

Universal man

Lucas Pope is not cheating on himself. Return of the Obra Dinn is made, in fact, alone. The only help, in addition to the moral, which Lucas needed on the way to the realization of his long — standing dream, are the artists who voiced the crew members. To ensure that speak dozens of voices, both male and female, and even in different languages and with different dialects, talent Lucas is not enough. The rest — programming, game and visual design, music, testing and everything else you need to create a finished game — with a vengeance.

Armed with the Unity engine, the author created a model ship with all the dramatic (and static) scenes in full 3D — with one-bit graphics. In the beginning, you can choose the style of the picture: Return of the Obra Dinn allowed to disguise the game with Commodore 1084 or there Macintosh. And Yes, this style is really worth recognizing a kind — to understand everyone who complains about “emerged in the game eyes”, it is possible. Breaks help-it is possible to pass Obra Dinn and for one eight-hour marathon, but then the tired optic nerve can spoil impression at the end.


Another side effect of the graphic solution is the difficulty in distinguishing individual characters. If they do not have any bright signs (hats, tattoos or characteristic beard), sometimes even the race is not easy to determine — despite the fact that it is necessary. At some point I got stuck because I counted six Chinese among those I met on my way back in time, whereas there were only four on the crew list! This situation helped just good old brute force — one extra was a Scot and the other an Englishman. In technical terms, too, not everything is smooth — at some point I ran into an unpleasant bug that made me look for an extra hour the ends of the previous scene, which should have opened automatically; but in General, complaints about the instability of the Return of the Obra Dinn quite a bit.

With music and sound Lucas Pope coped without reservations brilliantly-maybe we did not wait for the new anthem of Arstotsky, but the confident step of the title track immediately sets the right tone, and the musical themes of this or that Chapter create a thick atmosphere.

The game, by the way, unexpectedly translated into a number of languages, including Russian — sometimes very clumsy (for example, the word “gun” translated as uncontested “gun”, which may at some points to a standstill), but generally tolerable.

Оп, пацанчик!

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