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Creator of Papers, Please announces Return of the Obra Dinn

First-person mystery game inspired by old Mac games.

Lucas Pope, the creator of border control hit Papers, Please, has announced his next game: Return of the Obra Dinn.

It's a 3D, first-person mystery game set on an East Indian merchant ship in 1808, with an art style inspired by old Mac games.

Here's the setup, as outlined by Pope, on the TIGForums:

"In 1802, the merchant ship 'Obra Dinn' set out from London for the Orient with over 200 tons of trade goods. Six months later it hadn't met its rendezvous point at the Cape of Good Hope and was declared lost at sea. Early this morning of October 14th, 1808, the Obra Dinn drifted into port with sails damaged and no visible crew. As insurance adjustor for the East India Company's London Office find means to board the ship and recover the captain's logbook for assessment."

Return of the Obra Dinn doesn't sound much like Papers, Please at all, which, according to Pope, was entirely intentional.

"I want to challenge myself so this'll be a very different game from anything I've done before, including Papers Please," he said.

"There'll be less creativity with the gameplay and instead I want to experiment with the rendering, story, and a few technical features. Right now I have only a rough idea about the narrative. I'm hoping to capture a compelling mystery with suspense and twists in the limited space of an old merchant sailing ship. It won't be the typical 'collect items and look for clues' structure.

"There's a slightly cool gameplay hook but I won't go into details on that until much later."

As for the art style, it's a riff on the 1-bit rendering of old Mac games. Pope's first computer was a Mac Plus, and, he says, he's had a soft spot for 1-bit graphics ever since.

"I'd like to capture the detailed black and white look of old Mac games in a real time first-person game," he explained.

"I plan to push it grittier and less cartoon-like than those old games; the hard part will be keeping everything legible without it becoming an unreadable mess of dithered pixels."

Pope expects it'll take around half a year to complete Return of the Obra Dinn, so perhaps it'll launch in time for Christmas.