First Impressions: Return of the Obra Dinn is a unique murder mystery experience. You play as an insurance assessor who goes aboard a previously lost ship, the Obra Dinn which has just been sighted. Climbing aboard the ship there is a clear lack of crew members. After this point, you receive a book with a sketch of the crew and a list of names of that crew. Your job is to assign each crew member with a name and what has become of them aboard the ship. To help you with this task, you are given a stopwatch that allows you to relive a couple of seconds before each crew member’s untimely demise as well as explore the scene at the point of their death. Through this, you piece together what has happened to the crew.
Going Further: To get it out of the way, from the first second you play the game the visual art style that the game presents itself in is impossible to ignore. The game is 3D but the pixels that make it up are only of two colors with a varying amount of dithering to make up the different shades of the scene. While this may be a turn off for people, I personally thought it added to the charm of the game as it does it in such a way to be visually interesting as opposed to being an eyesore. The game is very engaging to the player. Each moment before each person’s death, as well as their death, is incredibly dramatic; whether it be being shot, or crushed, or ripped apart, the game gives one just enough bait to keep them interested. Due to the nature of the game and only having a few seconds before each death, one will find themselves needing to stitch together the story like a puzzle with pieces missing to understand the crew’s fate with that being part of the fun. The game also does a good job in giving the player gratification. Return of the Obra Dinn holds your hand just enough without being too overbearing, only confirming your answers after you get a certain number correct. This forces the player to be thoughtful in their answers when matching the cause of death and the name but is the more satisfying when they figure it out. While it may not be a game for everyone, it will leave an impression no matter how long one plays it. Excellent game all around.