At least when Return Of The Obra Dinn came out on PC last year the fact that it’s the latest from the creator of Papers, Please inspired some level of interest and confidence. But Lucas Pope’s dystopian classic has never been released on consoles (except PS Vita) and so it’s less likely people will know who he is or why they should be excited about such an odd-looking game as this. But please believe that this is, once again, one of the best games of the year. The Obra Dinn is a fictional ghost ship that arrives in Falmouth during the early 1800s with all 60 crew members dead. You play the role of a shipping agent sent to investigate what has happened, in what is easily the best detective-themed video game there’s ever been. That’s not necessarily to disparage other detective-themed games, such as the recent L.A. Noire: The VR Case File, because creating a game in which you have to work everything out yourself is extremely difficult, in terms of providing a challenge that’s not either pointlessly easy or offputtingly difficult. Return Of The Obra Dinn’s solution is a magic pocket watch that allows you to see and hear a snapshot of what happened a few moments before each crew member’s death. Time is then frozen and you’re able to investigate the crime scene, filling in details and making logical deductions
We feel confident in saying that nobody is going to guess what happened ahead of time, which makes Obra Dinn a fascinating and hugely satisfying puzzle game to work through. Its ‘1-bit’ art style is meant to be reminiscent of both old ‘80s era Apple games and contemporary illustrations of the 19th century; it’s highly stylized but strangely beautiful and, as you might imagine, the Switch and other consoles have no difficulty replicating it from the PC original. The controls were obviously made for a mouse and keyboard and were a little clunky even then, but otherwise, this is a fine conversion that allows everyone to experience one of the strangest but most inventive games of recent years.
Angelique Chrisafis is the Guardian’s Paris correspondent. She is responsible for churning out quality articles based on her research while keeping an eye on the tech world. She likes technology, gadgets, and food. Works as an individual contributor to the team.