Return of the Obra Dinn (Unity)
There is an elegant charm to old, monochromatic films shared by early video games. While retro-themed games often call on the 16-bit sprites of classic RPGs or the cartoonish proportions of old mascot platformers, Lucas Pope's Return of the Obra Dinn instead channels the dithered, 1-bit black-and-white graphics of '80s computers like the Macintosh. By stripping visual presentation to its essentials, Obra Dinn has space to focus on the density and precision of its details instead. A ship, lost at sea in 1803, reappears in 1807. Details of its long absence remain a mystery. The player controls an insurance agent-cum-detective who boards the ship to investigate and compile a report on the deaths of all 60 crew. They are armed with a handy ledger and, more curiously, a pocket watch with the power to grant short visions into the past. Players can explore short vignettes of key moments during the ship's history that contain just enough information to connect the dots but never enough to instill certainty. Piecing together the vast, interconnected logic puzzle of Obra Dinn is a task that masterfully tests players' powers of observation and deduction while placing them at the center of a gradually unfolding tragedy. It is minimalist gold and, perhaps, the preeminent detective game. Pour some coffee, put on your thinking cap, and dive in.
Available for: PlayStation 4, Nintendo Switch, Xbox One, macOS, Microsoft Windows.