Lucas Pope released the seminal Papers, Please in 2013, and in 2014 he announced on Twitter that he had started on his next game, “Return of the Obra Dinn, 3D 1st person mystery, 1-bit rendering.” Since then he has shared updates, images, and animations, but he wasn’t forthcoming with a potential release date until now. In 2016 he released a demo at GDC, which is still available to download on his itch.io page. I remember trying the demo at the time and thinking how unique it looked and felt.

As with Papers, Please, players should expect some form of bureaucratic analysis gameplay, though it is also a first-person 3D game with WASD movement and some exploration involved. The premise goes that the good ship Obra Dinn was lost at sea in 1803. Built in 1796, in London, it had a crew of 51 men in its final voyage to the East with over 200 tons of trade goods. Six months later, missing its rendezvous point at the Cape of Good Hope, it was declared lost at sea.

Then, early in the morning of October 14th, 1807, the Obra Dinn drifted into port at Falmouth with damaged sails and no visible crew. The player assumes the role of an insurance investigator for the East India Company’s London Office, dispatched to Falmouth, where they can find the means to board the ship and assess the damages. In the demo and the trailer, the player possesses a mystical clock of sorts that can be used to reveal the past at certain spots inside the ship, thereby investigating the disappearance of the crew. The mystery will also require exploration and logical deduction to be solved.

Lucas Pope also said on Twitter recently that “Obra Dinn ends with an insurance assessment, as any half-responsible adventure should. 21 pages of riveting claims.” The trailer shows some of this insurance assessment gameplay and how the player will interact with it. If it’s anything like the compelling document cross-referencing of Papers, Please, it should be fascinating.

Return of the Obra Dinn is now available to wishlist on Steam, announced for a Fall release window.

What do you think of Return of the Obra Dinn? Does analytical gameplay like this appeal to you? Or would you prefer something more experimental? Let us know in the comments below.

More About This Game

Richard Costa

Staff Writer

Ape meets keyboard. Hack for hire, recovering academic and RPG enthusiast who started gaming on MSX in the late 80s, then witnessed the glorious 90s on PC.