Papers, Please Developer Reveals Return of the Obra Dinn

Lucas Pope, the developer of Papers, Please revealed Return of the Obra Dinn today. Return of the Obra Dinn is “an insurance adventure with minimal color.” The game is set in the early 19th century, and is scheduled for release this fall.

According to the official website, players are an insurance investigator for the East India Company, and are tasked with assessing damages to the titular Obra Dinn after it returns to port five years after it’s disappearance in 1802. Obra Dinn has players using the “Momento Mortem” to the moment of death for the crew of the ship in a first-person adventure. The game marries a 1-bit aesthetic with early 19th century ship design to create a unique, eye-catching look.

It was originally unveiled by Pope at GDC 2016 with an early playable demo. Pope detailed the aesthetic choice in a post on the TIGSource forums from 2016.

“I’ve always had a nostalgia-softened spot in my heart for 1-bit graphics,” he said. “I’d like to capture the detailed black & white look of old Mac games in a real-time first-person game. 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. One interesting problem with 1-bit rendering is that it doesn’t scale well for images and it compresses to video like shit—so YouTube stuff may look really poor. We’ll see how it goes.”

Return of the Obra Dinn got a two-minute trailer released on YouTube today. The 1-bit graphics are well-crafted, and translated well into the video. The trailer has a release date of Autumn 1818, although the Steam page puts it as as “fall.”

Lucas Pope released Papers, Please in August 2013. That game cast players as an immigration inspector for the fictional country of Arstotzka. Players are asked to choose who can enter the country, turned away, or arrested. That game was well-received and recognized for its political message.