GOTY 2018: The Top 10 Games of the Year: #3
Welcome to the Tenth Annual Silicon Sasquatch Top 10 Games of the Year list! Using our tried-and-true methodology (i.e., we play a lot of games and argue until we’re tired,) we've finally narrowed down the 10 games that we feel accurately represent the best and most important that 2018 had to offer.
#3 – Return of the Obra Dinn
3909 LLC | October 18th, 2018 | macOS, Windows
What a brilliant game.
Return of the Obra Dinn’s art direction is noteworthy, yes, but its success is born from creator Lucas Pope's meticulous, singular vision. Pope set out to create a 19th-century insurance-adjusting murder mystery, and that's exactly what he released.
If you take a gander at old screenshots from 2014, the game seems barely any different from how it arrived four years later. The concept was crystal clear, even at early stages of development. All of which proves that those years were used to polish, tighten, and perfect its mechanics.
Beyond the graphic style, Obra Dinn is one big logic grid. Whereas other similar games like The Witness barely kept me engaged and made me feel overwhelmed—or even stupid—Obra Dinn does a masterful job of making its carrot-on-the-stick mysteries seem attainable. Which they are. Eventually I did grab each and every carrot, albeit after hours of writing down notes (on paper!) and cross-checking my adjustor's in-game journal.
Maybe its formula succeeds because of that uncompromising vision. Or, maybe Pope's vision is so unique, so weird and unexpected, that I happily bought what it was selling without question. Actually, I think I loved Obra Dinn because it made me feel smart.
The games industry needs fiercely original IP. (It also needs diversity, of all kinds, but original ideas are also lacking.) Thematically, Obra Dinn doesn't ask much of its players, and it doesn't have much of a statement to make—other than, I suppose, a lovely feature that randomizes the gender of your protagonist each time you start a new game. Even so, Return of the Obra Dinn is exactly what it needed to be: a celebration of minimalism, an ode to the most miniscule of details...a shining example that game developers can do so much more with so much less. —Aaron Thayer