June 2017 - Return of the Obra Dinn

Thursday, June 22, 2017 — Return of the Obra Dinn is the upcoming title from Papers Please developer, Lucas Pope, in which you are an insurance adjuster who must step aboard a ship that has reappeared as mysteriously as it vanished and determine the turn of events that took place. The decks are strewn with the remains of the Obra Dinn’s passengers and it's your job to discover what happened to each crew member, so as to pay out any owed salaries to families of the recently deceased. Many will recognise Pope for bureaucratic gameplay mixed with ethical decision making, thanks to Papers Please, so Return of the Obra Dinn will see Pope returning to similar depths.

For those unaware, Papers Please was an indie game that rose to critical success (10/10 on Steam) and released back in August 8th, 2013. The premise was fairly simple but hid deeper narrative mechanics. Selected via the October Labor Lottery to become the next immigration inspector responsible for controlling the flow of people entering the reclaimed Grestin side of Arstotzkan from Kolechia after a six-year war, you must decide who is deemed worthy to enter whilst trying to support your own family in dire circumstances. This is accomplished by using primitive search methods used to check the documents of all potential Arstotzkan Citizens. You must decide who can enter, who is turned away and who needs to be arrested immediately due to the tense political climate.

As it has been previously mentioned, Pope has the opportunity to follow creative pursuits more freely due to the critical acclaim of Papers Please. This appears evident within the stylistic design of the game, which is implemented through a 1 bit rendering of an explorable 3D, which feels like a modern take on the 1 bit Mac Games Lucas Pope heralds back to visually. Experimentation is also exemplified within player interaction and pacing, there are no weapons, the NPC's do not move and dialogue is minimal. Instead, players will find themselves in the calm aftermath of an event, armed only with a device that allows short glimpses into the past along with brief offerings of dialogue to help you piece together what happened. 

All in all, I'm *ahem* on board for the Return of the Obra Dinn and can't wait to see what turns the narrative might take. There's something strangely appealing about the idea of playing a clerical role in the wake of a mysterious event and I'm interested to see how this will be publicly received. There is an itch.io demo available for those wanting to get a sense of the game for themselves before launch.