The GWJ Adventure Game Club - Game 15: Return of the Obra Dinn

Return of the Obra Dinn (2018)

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FOURTH time in a row we're playing a pick of mine! Return of the Obra Dinn is a special game by all accounts. Created by Lucas Pope, who also brought us Papers, Please, Return of the Obra Dinn is set aboard a fictional East India Company ghost ship in the early 1800s whose crew and passengers have all mysteriously died or disappeared. And it's up to the player to investigate and figure out exactly what happened. For insurance purposes, of course.

You can find the wikipedia page here, usual spoiler warning apply. How Long to Beat estimates about 8-9 hours to completion. Available on Microsoft Windows, OS X, Switch, PS4, Xbox One (currently 20% off on Steam)!

You can find the main thread over this way. We'll be playing Return of the Obra Dinn in January 2020, with an extra month if need be.

Oh its so good! I 100%ed the game when it came out last year. I'll give it another year or two for all my memories to vanish before I try again.

This game really made me wish that this style of mystery/investigation would essentially become its own platform/genre. I'd play a dozen games like this where you inspect a frozen 3d scene for clues to fill out a journal.

If you have others in your households, consider playing in a common area where others can point out things they notice and help out. I got the worst ending on my own and the best with my wife knitting and helping.

i am very interested to see what people think of this, it was one of my GOTY picks and I loved every minute of playing it (sadly it's very much a one-and-done deal, being a mystery game). I shall be following on with interest!

I played this only a few weeks ago, and it is indeed great.

polypusher wrote:

This game really made me wish that this style of mystery/investigation would essentially become its own platform/genre. I'd play a dozen games like this where you inspect a frozen 3d scene for clues to fill out a journal.

Yeah, it really seems like the sort of thing more developers should pick up on, isn't it? Maybe in some kind of fusion with the mechanics of other games like Ace Attorney and Danganronpa, which have something of the investigative element to them, but which don't really make you feel like a proper detective in the way Obra Dinn does.

I'm in. Had my eye on this since the rave reviews during GOTY 2018 season.

This is on my GOTY 2019 list. Such an extremely well designed game - even if I might appreciate the design more than I appreciated playing it.

This looks interesting. I'm curious, are there ways to buy this for less than $15.99, the Steam sale price? I've poked about the usual places (Is There Any Deal, etc.), but didn't see anything.

Mr. Dragon and I finished this in January over three days (GOTY write-up coming in under the wire, I promise). We got 100% and have actually been looking to wander through it again after introducing my parents to it over Christmas. Looking forward to watching people work through it, and I'm happy to give spoilered hints if anybody needs a nudge, though there's probably also hints out there.

I had forgotten to check in on the main thread during voting but have conveniently been playing this with my brother over the holidays. We're most of the way through and hopefully we'll find a time to clean up our straggling loose ends. It's been a fantastic experience.

Put some time into it tonight and I have to say, that graphical style is impressive, even if it takes my eyes some time to reattune to a normal color range after I exit out. I really like the commodore 64 variant.

Got three ....I'm going to call them bios.... right, and have guessed at parts of several more. I've moved into the events of chapter III. The identity of the guy in the wool cap who you meet right at the beginning is driving me nuts. I have to know who he is; he turns up everywhere!

Spent another few hours on this last night. Solved 15 fates, and although I'm pretty sure I have another 4-5 right, the game disagrees. Now that there are so many scenarios unlocked, I'm beginning to lose track of who did what where with whom now.

This is a weird game to play only a few months after

Spoiler:

reading about the real life events of the HMS Terror and HMS Erebus, and then watching the show The Terror, season 1.

11 hours in and 45 fates solved. I've probably brute-force guessed my way through the identities of 8-10 people (after narrowing the pool of possibilities) and about 5 fates, as at times I was sure one thing happened, but the game either felt otherwise.

Also, a few of the identities (about 4) don't make sense to me, even after I found out the answer...

I'm definitely into this, even if my progress has been glacial at times.

Wow, that's solid progress!! Nicely done!
I'm hoping to get into this tomorrow now that things on the GOTY front are settling down (though the GOTD stuff is going strong!)

Finished this on Wednesday with all fates solved.

Really like what it was doing and the art style is, as everybody knows, something else. However, I'm not entirely a fan of the fact that some identities/fates can only be guessed at (after narrowing down the options) until the game tells you that you are correct (how would I know that it's correct without more clues??). I still don't understand how at least 2 of the identities make sense, even after reexamining some of the scenes. On the other hand, I like how the game sometimes plays with your assumptions based on a person's appearance.

Like I mentioned before...I brute-force guessed my way through a few identities (and a few fates) until the game told me I'm right. I wish I knew how I was supposed to do it otherwise, as I consider this method unsatisfying.

Spoiler, but sort of important if you want the good ending.

Spoiler:

I'm glad I read online that you shouldn't leave the ship unless the game tells you that there are no more fates to solve on it. At the point that leaving the ship became an option I had become stuck and wondered if more clues would be available after I left - they won't be.

Spoilers for sure! Do not read if you haven't finished!!

Spoiler:

I totally missed the glaringly obvious clue that identifies the fates of four disappearances at the end of chapter IX. I guessed until the game told me I was correct, and afterwards had my "Ooooohhhh....DUH!" moment.

I was totally on the wrong track with the fate in chapter VI, part 7. He was the last one I solved on the ship.

What the heck was with the monkey? Why the monkey paw?? I don't get it. I didn't understand the monkey's fate until reading a forum discussion, but am still not sure it was necessary.

I do so enjoy this game, it's so unique. In my GotY writeup I posited that it might be a tad bit long with too many characters but otherwise think it's something special.

Of course I haven't finished it and filed it away in the same place Breath of the Wild is stored: a place I know I can come back to when I want to experience greatness again.

I'm about seven hours in, and I am LOVING it. Solved about 30 fates, some of them I'd narrowed down to one or two people and had to brute force. But yeah. Great stuff. More thoughts when I'm done (possibly on Tuesday?).

It's amazing. I love it, I can totally see why so many people do, and I absolutely adored it. Gonna catch up on the spoilers before I post more.

Two hours in now, and love it. Hope this inspires other mystery games.

Eleima wrote:

It's amazing. I love it, I can totally see why so many people do, and I absolutely adored it. Gonna catch up on the spoilers before I post more. :)

Did you get all 60?I flamed out eventually and got the "bad" ending. I would classify this as a solid "good" game - not the extraordinary masterpiece everyone else does. By the end, I got really frustrated with the game, particularly the mechanics and the graphics. Traversal was (maybe purposely?) too annoying. It should have been easier to jump back into specific memories instead of walking around and guessing which portal went where. The graphics began as "wow this is very stylized and cool" to "ah ha, this is how they obfuscate details to make it harder to guess identities."

I did enjoy it overall though. It didn't go from the highs and lows I experienced with the Outer Wilds - which went from "OMG this is my favorite game ever" to "I absolutely hate this game."

I did get all 60! Some of them towards the end I had to "brute force", because I was down to two or three candidates, so I swapped names in and out until something triggered. I really, really enjoyed it. This game spoke to my logical, analytical side, and that side is a strong, strong part of me. I had lots of fun puzzling things out, taking the puzzles apart and putting clues together. I'd like to give a hunge thank you to Pyxistyx who was an awesome audience member (bring on the puns!) and nudged me in the right direction when I was unsure how to tackle a specific problem I had.

Spoilers for the chapter "The Calling":

Spoiler:

That one really tripped me up. I'd decided the sirens were sentient and classified them as "enemy" instead of "beast" in the cause of death, which meant that I had a lot of pages that wouldn't lock in. That was slightly frustrating, but nothing too serious.

I'm sorry it didn't click with you, PaladinTom, but I can see how some of the game would not appeal to some. Some of the game can be a little obtuse, and that's bound to be frustrating.

AUs_TBirD, regarding your spoiler, I have an answer for you:

Spoiler:

When we leave the Obra Dinn, we have no idea what happened in the Lazarette. We vaguely here something about the Captain being below deck when the Kraken attacks, and that he "drove it off", but no more. Having the monkey die in the Lazarette and keeping a piece of the body allows to start what I called a "memory chain". You start the memory of the monkey's death, and can then jump to the memorty of the death of the body that you find in the Lazarette where the monkey was killed (Martin first I believe). From there, you jump to the two sirens and then to the Captain's Steward. Much like the chain in the "The Calling" chapter (the one where Nichols, the second mate, attempts to escape with the Formosan royalty and the treasure), you can only access those memories from the deck of the ship and threading back. not sure if that helps or not, but that's how I see it. :)

Yep

Spoiler:

once I suddenly was made to realize that the paw started the chain during your stream yesterday, it was all so clear. Not sure why I didn't process that during my playthrough. I'm guessing it was because I was getting far too little sleep

I also thought that I had marked George Shirley's fate as "torn apart by beast" and that it accepted it, but I seem to be misremembering. Funny that my last fate solved on the ship was also the ship's steward. It was kind of fitting how -if that's your last memory solved - once you're told there's nothing left to do on the ship, you exit the memory via a long corridor to the exit door.

I really dug the game too, but I can't give it top marks because of my previous comments regarding the necessity of guessing some identities and fates. I hope subsequent games in this feature logical reasoning as a path to all solutions .

I also had to brute force some solutions, and after I played I found ways that you could make a logical deduction on identities. The game does ask you to make some assumptions which I think are meant to make you feel a bit uncomfortable. The ship represents a highly stratified society, and that is used for many of the deductions.

We had the same understanding of that part, eleima. The whole story had to be documented.

The fates were solvable with some deduction and careful guessing. For instance:

Spoiler:

Clothing and rank is important. The stewards are dressed similarly, as are the other ranks. Noticing who is giving and taking orders can also be a hint. Accents are critical.

As I mentioned in the GOTY post, we finally identified the Chinese topmen because they wear different shoes. In one scene you can see them in their hammocks, which are all labeled with the crew number. Then between the drawings and other scenes we figured them all out.

I think we were also lucky to not stumble on phrasing the deaths. That's a frustrating way to miss a lock.

Hmmmm. Question about the first little group of people.

Spoiler:

The captain appears to have shot himself so I selected Captain as the identity of the body and means of death 'shot' but there isn't an option to select the captains name from the list for the person who killed him. Am I missing something or is it not the captain?

Higgledy wrote:

Hmmmm. Question about the first little group of people.

Spoiler:

The captain appears to have shot himself so I selected Captain as the identity of the body and means of death 'shot' but there isn't an option to select the captains name from the list for the person who killed him. Am I missing something or is it not the captain?

Spoiler:

There is an option for suicide as cause of death.

Higgledy wrote:

Hmmmm. Question about the first little group of people.

Spoiler:

The captain appears to have shot himself so I selected Captain as the identity of the body and means of death 'shot' but there isn't an option to select the captains name from the list for the person who killed him. Am I missing something or is it not the captain?

I can give you a nudge in the right direction on that one.

Spoiler:

He has indeed shot himself. Which in other terms, would be... suicide. you should have phrasing in there along those lines, suicide by gun. "Shot" is for shot by someone else.

ActualDragon wrote:

We had the same understanding of that part, eleima. The whole story had to be documented.

The fates were solvable with some deduction and careful guessing. For instance:

Spoiler:

Clothing and rank is important. The stewards are dressed similarly, as are the other ranks. Noticing who is giving and taking orders can also be a hint. Accents are critical.

As I mentioned in the GOTY post, we finally identified the Chinese topmen because they wear different shoes. In one scene you can see them in their hammocks, which are all labeled with the crew number. Then between the drawings and other scenes we figured them all out.

I think we were also lucky to not stumble on phrasing the deaths. That's a frustrating way to miss a lock.

You're absolutely right on that:

Spoiler:

This is something I picked up pretty quickly during my streams, especially for the officers' hats, the midshipmen's shirts and scarves and the stewards' collars. The Captain's steward was a bit of a fluke, having him in the top drawing kinda threw me off. And the bosun's mate who is French, had a very subtle, very late accent, so I missed that at first. But you're absolutely right that the game puts you in a position where you have to make certain assumptions, and as a very, very white person, it did make me slightly uncomfortable to hear words like "well, I think this guy looks like he's from Sierra Leone." Definitely.

Ah thanks both.