The thing I respect most about Obra Dinn is how obviously realized it is. I complain a lot about pieces of media that feel more like collections of things than gestalts: Obra Dinn is a gestalt, a single through-line that coheres and compels. The distinct visual style, the narrative, the gameplay, the audio design [1] — all of it is in conversation with one another and they all push the game to be such a single successful unit that it is hard not to be wowed.

Parts of the game feel cold and unpleasant in a way that I think is fitting with that gestalt. At it's best, playing Obra Dinn feels almost like a Sudoku — you notice a detail you overlooked which unlocks an identity which unlocks two more, and so on. At its worst, you... don't. You get stuck, and you struggle to move from one room to another without glancing at the mini-map seven times.

I had a really good time with Obra Dinn; I am a sucker for any game that makes me take out pen and paper to solve it. It was innovative and successful but did not resonate with me in the way that my absolute favorite games do, and I can't accuse it of any flaws besides some annoying UX choices. You should absolutely play it.

  1. I am not sure if I have ever played a game whose sound design is not just more crucial but more effective than Obra Dinn's. ↩︎


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