Return of the Obra Dinn - Lucas Pope
In picking this as a second game to laud on this blog, I can't help but notice a theme. I seem to have a great love of games that treat you, the player, as an intelligent and invested listener to a grand story. Great puzzle and gameplay elements help, of course, and Return of the Obra Dinn is no slouch in these departments. The game, created by solo developer Lucas Pope and released in 2018, was a second hit following the breakout Papers, Please in 2013 (don't be surprised if you see a post about that game at some point here).
I didn't plan to write about this game, almost four years after its original release, but a friend of mine unexpectedly offered to have me watch him play through it. This game, much like Outer Wilds, is something that can only truly be experienced as a player once, as the knowledge you obtain throughout it is the primary act of progression through the story. That being said, it is a very rewarding experience to see someone else go through all of the thought processes you once did, perhaps in vastly different manners, and arrive to their own satisfying conclusion. Seeing my friend play this game reinforced the joy I remember having as I explored the exciting story and memorable characters introduced in Pope's mystery.
Lucas Pope does a lot with very little in this game, sold as "An Insurance Adventure with Minimal Colour". While the game is fully voice-acted (with a vast and diverse cast!), the gameplay-loop takes place in still moments-in-time. The visuals are reminiscent of the days of early computer games, making use of a monochromatic pallet and dithering. Even though the game takes place in a three-dimensional world, the nature of the gameplay makes you feel like you are exploring something akin to a very dynamic painting.
Return of the Obra Dinn is another game I don't want to say too much about, and instead, offer the suggestion that you experience it yourself. If you are a fan of mysteries, high-sea adventures, and the act of deduction, you will love diving into the turbulent seas alongside the crew of the Obra Dinn.