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    The Return of Obra Dinn

    Lucas Pope’s first computing experience was with a Mac Plus which came with its own native coding program: a simple script that allowed players to make sprites and interactive software, all rendered in 1-bit. The result is a lo-fi graphical experience presented in highly detailed monochrome, a style that’s criminally underused in modern games development.

    In a nostalgic effort to present another innovative product, Pope has taken on the challenge of making a 1-bit rendered game, but through a first-person perspective. The result is this an intriguing game that’s going to have to rely on creating deep perspectives with binary colours to communicate texture, depth, light, direction and shadow, all in one. Pope admits he’s set the bar quite high for himself, but his experience in the industry has allowed him to digest the product, one facet at a time. He’s building the game in Unity, for example, moving away from the Haxe/OpenFL engine that Papers, Please was constructed in. Pope warns that 1-bit processing doesn't scale well and isn't captured well on video, so if you’re not overly impressed by the quality of screens on this page, don’t worry: it looks a lot prettier on the screen.
    “I’d like to capture the detailed black and white look of old Mac games in a real-time 1st person game”
    The story of Obra Dinn is a little less politically involved than its spiritual predecessor, though it seems like the mystery of the returning merchant ship will be no less unsettling. You play as an insurance broker on behalf of the East India Company, tasked with exploring the ship after it docks six months after being declared lost at sea. There are no crew on board, and the game seems to feature no life, other than that of the protagonist. It uses the sharp and empty 1-bit processing technique to its advantage: creating an alarming and captivating scene in a very gothic, isolationist setting.

    Pope promises there’ll be a gameplay hook that will set Obra Dinn apart from other puzzle games out there it won’t just revolve around item collecting, area-observing paradigm most other mystery games are based on (though Pope refuses to release the hook until later in development). There’s an extremely early build of the game up on Pope’s website, though it doesn't feature any save states and is scarce in terms of content, it’s a proof of concept of what you can expect from the indie scene's newest innovative game.

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