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Return of the Obra Dinn, from the maker of Papers, Please, comes out next week

More than four years after it was first revealed to the world, Return of the Obra Dinn, "an insurance adventure with minimal color" being developed by the maker of Papers, Please, will be out next week—October 18.   

The subtitle is odd but accurate: The game tells the tale of the merchant ship Obra Dinn, which was declared lost in 1802 but reappeared five years later, drifting, with damaged sails and no crew. You, an insurance investigator for the East India Company, must get aboard the ship, assess the damages, and figure out what went wrong. Its first-person exploration is rendered entirely in 1-bit color—that is, monochrome—with core rendering resolution locked to 800x450.   

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That's not exactly a deep insight into what it's all about, but Shaun took it for a test sail a couple of years ago and declared it "scarier and more adventurous than it looks": It's minimalist and clerical, but "the whole package carries the ineffable weirdness of some long buried silent movie, deemed too dreadful and frightening for its time."   

It's the sort of description that immediately grabs my attention, but if you need more convincing you can take the GDC 2016 build of Return of the Obra Dinn for a spin courtesy of Bear in mind that it's far from final: "This is a slightly tweaked and optimized version of the build shown at GDC 2016. It's not meant to be a proper demo of the final product but it's probably safe to extrapolate from here," the page states. "Barely tested and possibly full of bugs. Progress is not saved." 

Return of the Obra Dinn will be available on Steam, Humble, and GOG, although it's not listed there yet. A website that currently contains no more information than what you've already got is up at

Andy Chalk
Andy covers the day-to-day happenings in the big, wide world of PC gaming—the stuff we call "news." In his off hours, he wishes he had time to play the 80-hour RPGs and immersive sims he used to love so much.