In 2013, Lucas Pope got gamers around the world addicted to paperwork. Papers, Please was a bleak, frustrating, but compelling simulation of a border-crossing agent processing immigrants in trying times. Hopefully the papercuts on your stamping hand have all cleared up, because there’s a new stack of forms arriving this fall in the Return of the Obra Dinn.
Obra Dinn began development soon after Papers, Please. A “1-bit” experiment in the style of old Mac games, the mysterious thing became Pope’s next passion project. After years of occasional updates, Pope has revealed that the game will be sometime in the next few months.
In Return of the Obra Dinn, a ghost ship has drifted into port. You play as an insurance adjustor on behalf of the East India Company. You will not only be taking stock of the surviving goods, but trying to deduce what ill-fate became of the crew, through tools, logic, and exploratory flashbacks. An interactive mystery, with powers at your disposal similar to Denzel Washington in Tony Scott’s Déjà Vu.
It’s hard to say if Obra Dinn will become the smash hit Papers, Please was. The pitch of an insurance agent alone on a ghost ship (without literal ghosts) could be a little too niche. But so is a bureaucratic border guard simulator. On paper.