A Good Ol’ Monochromatic Murder Mystery

By Devonte Griffiths

Game: Return of the Obra Dinn
Platform: Microsoft Windows and Mac
Rating: M for Mature
Price: $19.99

From the creator of Papers Please, Lucas Pope, comes Return of the Obra Dinn, a game that show-cases the creative potential that video games possess. Return of the Obra Dinn is a game that thrives off of the story that it tells and the mystery that lies within it.

The player is an insurance agent who is investigating the wreckage of a pirate ship called the Obra Dinn. You have to properly identify all the people who passed away on the ship and how they met their demise. The story is intentionally told out of order and is pieced together by the player through various notes taken. Though it may seem confusing at first, the story culminates in a fascinating tale that showcases what people experience in times of disaster.

The most notable aspect of this game are its visual aesthetics. The entire game is rendered in a unique one-bit color style. The mono-chromatic art style looks incredible and works excellently to show both obscure detail and also highlight infor-mation in different scenarios. The art style accentuates how unclear the mystery is and makes every character’s distinct traits more noticeable. Though the default settings have the colors set as black and white, there are other color options for players with sensitive eyes.

The game’s main focus of solving the mystery is put primarily on the player. The game is not to be taken lightly in terms of difficulty. Using a unique pocket watch, the player can go back to a person’s death and investigate it. This is what primarily allows the player the ability to inquire about the people and their causes of death. However, not all details are directly given to the player. Taking notes is heavily encouraged while playing this game. Some situations in this game require the player to make an analysis based off of partial information.

In Obra Dinn, the characters are brought to life with brief voice lines that convey aspects of who they are. Despite the fact that the voice lines are brief, they distinguish each of the characters from one another. The numerous stories occurring on the Obra Dinn and the fact that it is being presented out of order allows the player to contemplate the causes of these events and sort them out in chronological order. The game clearly ex-presses how it wants the player to draw their own conclusions and gives them just enough information to make the player intrigued enough to keep exploring.

Due to the heavy emphasis on mystery, this game is best experienced blind. If you wish to play this game, avoid any videos or articles that go into explicit detail about what there is to find in this game. The game has two endings and can run anywhere from 6 to 40 hours depending on how deeply the player delves into the mysteries found within the game. Return of the Obra Dinn is one of the most captivating and unique stories that games as a whole have to offer.