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Return of the Obra Dinn Discussion (Nintendo Switch) [game]
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Posted: 11/09/19, 11:03:55
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Anyone else playing the newest game from the dude who made Papers, Please?

It's pretty sweet! You have to investigate a ship that disappeared 4 years ago and reappeared with all of the passengers dead or missing. Your job is to figure out the fate of every one of the 60 passengers. Which means keeping track of various details, puzzling out relationships, etc. The story plays out in a non-linear way and it is very interesting!

I wasn't quite sure if I was going to get into it because it felt kind of obtuse at first so I was like uh oh, is it one of THOSE type of indie games? But nah, once you get moving a bit it becomes a bit more obvious what you need to do in order to keep progressing.

With that said I'm now at the point where I have more or less gathered most of the information I can and need to start actually solving more stuff so we'll see if it gets weirdly obtuse or not!
Posted: 11/09/19, 11:08:56  - Edited by 
 on: 11/09/19, 11:09:40
I have heard great things and plan to get this game...eventually.
Posted: 11/09/19, 14:54:24
I got it on PC last year and played it for maybe 15 minutes before going, "Woah, alright, this is cool but I'm not in the mood for it right now." Then I saw everyone saying what an awesome new kind of logic puzzle game it is, and I decided to try it out again if it ever came to consoles... and now it's on consoles, so I'll check it out within the next few months! Maybe!
Posted: 11/09/19, 20:38:51
@Secret_Tunnel The first half hour or so was pretty confusing to me, to be honest, but once you realize what the basic gameplay loop is, it's a lot more straightforward. And then for awhile it's pretty easy to get into and make progress in.

It's funny because essentially in some ways this is just a really cool, much more complicated but still (so far) accessible indie version of those old logic puzzles that are like "Bob, Mary, Shirley and Ronald are standing in a line. Bob is not wearing a green shirt. Shirley is standing next to a doctor. Mary has people on both sides." Yada yada. I mean, not EXACTLY, but the whole idea is sorting out who all the dead bodies are (or if they're still alive, which is rare, WHERE they are) in this big ship that ran into multiple tragedies and you have to piece it together with fragments of information, etc.

Story is pretty awesome though, and I love how it all plays out non-linearly.

With that said, now I've run into the part where there isn't anything left to explore but I still have a ton of deaths, and this is where the game is maybe a lot different than regular puzzle games, because you need to look though THE BIG BOOK and try to sort things out.
Posted: 11/09/19, 23:20:07
Well damn. I played till 4 am last night and finished the game. Total time was uh... too lazy to check... around 10 hours? YMMV on time, especially if you try to solve everything the most legit way instead of exploiting the system for guessing.

So, I'll explain something quick that is important to know. The game uses a system where for any given fate of the 60 you have a spot to put in what you think their name, cause of death and (if applicable) who killed them is. It will just sit there unproven (and changeable) though until you have 3 fates at the same time with all of the correct information put in, at which point those three will lock in as permanently correct. So you can't really just guess willy nilly on a single fate, because unless you currently have all of the correct information placed in two others, you will never know if any given guess was correct. But you CAN just make some pretty smart guesses on a lot of them and once you hit that 3rd correct guess, they all lock in. And if you know for SURE that you have two fates set up correctly, you can just spam guess the third until you get it. This system also helps because it lets you know which guesses were WRONG... when you hit a third correct fate and they lock in, every other one you put info into at the time is obviously incorrect in some form, or the third correct guess would have triggered earlier.

Make sense?

So, overall I'd say I really enjoyed the game. It does have some issues though.

It pretty much tells you early on that a lot of the character's fates can't be definitively solved and you need to make some assumptions sometimes, essentially making it part of the gameplay to do educated guesses I suppose? But at a certain point for me it just became a lot of guesswork. Even though, within the framework of the game, I didn't cheat or anything, I still "solved" the last 40 fates while only truly solving 10 or 15 or so and just making pretty good guesses on the rest. Like I said above, you can't just spam guess on a single fate or anything, but you can put guesses into a bunch of fates at once, and you only need 3 right to lock those 3 in, so you can still get a lot of stuff locked in without really knowing for sure you're right. Is this the way it was intended to be played or did I miss a bunch? Hard to say. It's a bit vague about that though, and playing the way I played, you don't always feel smart so much as sometimes smart but often lucky.

I'd also say that it's a bit weird in that you can basically explore the whole ship and find everything you need to find before you actually solve many fates, so then you still have to put in a ton of time to solve everything, but with no real new content to explore and find. This would probably be solved a bit by trying to solve everything you can right when you can (the game has a pretty good system for letting you know if you have the enough information to solve any given fate at any given time, and if so, whether it will be easy or tough to solve with what you have.) Of course you have to go back to some places and look over certain things again or whatever, but it felt to me like the first half of my playtime was full of new and interesting content, and the last half involved a lot of pouring through the book and guessing and such, which isn't quite as fun. There is, of course, some new stuff at the very end, but overall I felt like the way the game is set up (or at least the way I played it, though it felt like a very natural way to play it) made the first half of time I spent on the game more interesting than the second half.

WITH THAT SAID, it's still a very interesting puzzle game. The whole game is essentially one big puzzle, which is pretty neat, chipping away at it. Presentation is great. The way the whole story plays out in non-linear pieces (and usually backwards when there is linearity) is really cool. And I definitely didn't expect the story to go in the directions that it did.

On a semi-related note, somehow it just occurred to me that Lucas Pope did two very different games that both have "look closely at different people's faces / clothes, etc." and "look closely at a variety of documents, etc." as the core gameplay components. He must have some thing for this kind of gameplay.
Posted: 11/11/19, 03:37:09  - Edited by 
 on: 11/11/19, 03:43:18
Zero said:
Well damn. I played till 4 am last night and finished the game. Total time was uh... too lazy to check... around 10 hours? YMMV on time, especially if you try to solve everything the most legit way instead of exploiting the system for guessing.
I had the exact same experience when I played this last year. Two sittings, and the second one stretched until 3 AM and I had to go to work in the morning. When you start off with nothing solved, it feels overwhelming but once you get in a rhythm and start figuring out who's who, it becomes very addictive. The music was great, too! Overall, one of the best puzzle/detective games out there.
Posted: 12/13/19, 23:49:48
I'm playing this! It was half off in the last sale, so I scooped it up.

I got sucked in yesterday and saw all the deaths in a single sitting, and now I've got to put the clues together. I've already done a few of the guesswork hacks like @Zero outlined (how am I supposed to figure out which brother had which name? I just switched them around when I had someone else solved and waited for the threesome to trigger), but I'm going to make an effort not to do that with as much of the rest as I can. I've only got about 25% of them solved, so we'll see how long that lasts.

But yeah, this is cool and unique and fun. I'm not in love with the monochromatic style, but it's fine I guess.
Posted: 02/01/21, 17:35:53  - Edited by 
 on: 02/01/21, 17:36:25
The art style was actually one of my favorite things about this game. Partially because we loved Papers, Please, and I can see the similarities, but it also works for me as a "period piece." For a game made by one person, I'm not sure how else it could've been done. I felt the monochrome aesthetic helped out the dreary, macabre atmosphere.

(Glad to hear you got sucked in. This is absolutely one of my favorite games of the past 10 years. It might be the best "detective" game ever made as far as I'm concerned. Definitely a lot of fun to play with someone else in the room, too.)
Posted: 02/02/21, 18:04:58
Yeah it meshes with the narrative decently well, and I'm sure its lo-fi result made development a bit easier, it's just kind of hard for me to look at for a long time.

My one larger complaint is that it sometimes feels awkward to try to piece together a scene when focusing on a single person or space. Overall the game does provide you a decent tool set, once you acclimate to the bookmarks and maps and stuff. But I wish you could progress through the memories in a more seamless, sequential way once you have them unlocked. Like, if I'm at a scene where a few people die in short sequence in the same space, I wish I could just press a button to go to the next/previous memory, instead of having to exit the memory and find the next scene's body, which may be in a completely different place. Sometimes you aren't forced to do that, if the bodies all stick around from one scene to the next, but they sometimes don't.

But yeah, overall it's a great game. Put in another marathon session yesterday and I'm at roughly 75% solved, with mostly just the Topmen and Seamen left. I'm hoping to finish that tonight and move on to the mysterious missing chapter (or whatever happens when you return to the rowboat). Those guys don't seem to play huge roles in most of the goings-on, so I'm guessing a lot of those solves will be based mostly on intuition and guesswork.
Posted: 02/02/21, 19:55:26  - Edited by 
 on: 02/02/21, 19:56:27
That would be my main gripe with the game as well- some memories can be tricky to access, because you access them through other memories. That being said, it's a cool idea and I don't quite know the solution to making that more seamless

Getting a group of 3 right answers though? There's rarely a more satisfying moment in gaming. It's so great when a hunch you had winds up being true.
Posted: 02/02/21, 20:02:52
Finished! Not as much guesswork as I expected going into the final solves, but definitely not zero. I looked in the wiki afterwards at some of the hints available for the characters (no character totally requires guesswork and most have some solidly identifying event), and while some of my guessed fates were like "Yeah okay I could have seen that but missed it," at least a few feel kind of light to me. Mainly the ones that require you to look closely at details of a character's attire, which is something I didn't think made a lot of sense to do with the art style so I didn't really try it.

And maybe this is my fault, but in the end I didn't really piece together what actually happened on the ship all that well. I identified all the fates, but didn't really have a great sense of who did what and why, which is kind of what I expected going into the game. Based on reading afterward you definitely CAN put some thought into character motivations and stuff, but the game never really asks you to in order to finish it.

Again though these are small complaints for a very neat game. Recommended for sure.
Posted: 02/05/21, 23:52:23
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