Return of the Obra Dinn sounds nothing like Papers, Please. Lucas Pope’s empathetic masterpiece about immigration and war-torn countries was told from the perspective of a customs officer. Obra Dinn, by contrast, is a “3D first-person mystery game” with a 1-bit art style set in 1808.
You are cast in a similarly menial position as Pope’s previous game. You’re the insurance adjustor for the East India Company’s London Office. The company wants you to unravel the secrets behind the titular Obra (“pronounced like ‘Cobra’ without the C”) Dinn, a merchant ship that disappeared on its way to the Orient and reappeared years later with no visible crew.
It’s an eerie sort of premise, but knowing Pope’s work I’d wager there’s more to this ghost ship than just actual ghosts. That said, the 1-bit color depth (which the dev says is a throwback to the Mac Plus he first cut his teeth on) sounds like it might add some extra surreality.
Beyond the set-up and the style, there’s little else we know about Obra Dinn.
“I want to challenge myself so this’ll be a very different game from anything I’ve done before, including Papers Please,” Pope explained on The Independent Game Source forums. “There’ll be less creativity with the gameplay and instead I want to experiment with the rendering, story, and a few technical features.”
He goes on to promise “a slightly cool gameplay hook,” but the phrasing makes me think this will be a more traditional experience than Papers, Please. Given Pope’s unique catalog, it might be interesting and challenging to see him tackle something less bespoke and more Myst-like.
“The animated title screen scene up there (with post-processing shaders and all) was created in one day. I now have unrealistically high hopes,” Pope concluded.
So do I, probably.