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YMMV / Return of the Obra Dinn

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  • Alternative Character Interpretation: The limited information available to the player leads to a lot of these.
    • In The End chapter, why was the first mate trying to recover the shells from the captain? Was it to accomplish a mutiny and have something that could be traded for gold and supplies like the gunner's mate's plan? Or was it to toss them overboard in an attempt to placate the beasts?
    • The Fourth Mate - was he planning on committing mutiny? It was the gunner's mate who discussed it, and he attempts to stop him from killing the midshipman.
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    • Are the terrible beasts as evil and monstrous as they look, or the aggrieved party trying to get their shell and imprisoned companions back?
  • Arc Fatigue: The moment you find a human leg near the chest and activate the Memento Mortem, you discover the fate of one dead crewmember after another or two, all spanning throughout all the parts of Chapters IV and V in reverse order, specifically. Some bodies even needed to be accessed during flashbacks (in Chapter IV, Parts 2-4, respectively), making it a death flashback within a death flashback! Many players are wondering how long the two-chapter arc would go on with all the holograms of dead bodies around.
  • Awesome Music: The whole soundtrack, which you only really get to hear during the flashbacks to the past. Soldiers of the Sea, which plays during the chapter of the same name, is a jaunty sea shanty tune which doesn't match the horrific events at all.
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  • Ensemble Dark Horse: Winston Smith, the ship's carpenter doesn't play a major role outside of his death, but he's much loved for going out like an absolute badass.
  • Funny Moments:
    • A gross Black Comedy example with Edward Spratt. See Squick below for more information.
    • Meta-example: the options menu. The "Look sensitivity" options isn't a numerical slider. It's a drop-down menu with the following options, which shows that not even adjusting the game to your tastes/needs is spared from a sense of meta-humor: Nearly Motionless, Just Slow, Slow Side of Perfect, Perfect, Fast Side of Perfect, Reasonably Fast, Unreasonably Fast, and A Parody of Control.
    • Another meta-example: On accepting the video game BAFTA for Artistic Achievement, Lucas Pope joked that it validated his theory that color monitor technology was a passing fad.
  • Genius Bonus:
    • Knowing a lot about naval history and sailing ships will help immensely with determining several key fates just by dress alone- for example, the Bosun's Mate is French, and he's wearing a French navy shirt. The Bosun even calls him "my Frenchman" while dying. The game also has characters of different nationalities speak their original language, and knowing what language they speak can help even further.
    • Those who know their history would notice that, in the final report, Captain Witterel's suicide got his estate forfeited to the Crown. During the 1800s, when the game takes place, suicide was a felony crime in England that would result in the suicide's possessions being forfeited to the Crown. On the other hand, those who catch on early on are left with a specific Driving Question: "What happened that was so bad that it left Captain Witterel so utterly broken that he would kill himself, regardless of the consequences?"
  • Memetic Mutation: "IT'S TOO HEAVY!" explanation 
  • Moment of Awesome: In a meta-example, the game won the award for "Best Art Direction" at The Game Awards 2018, and also the "Excellence in Narrative" award and the Seumas McNally Grand Prize at the Independent Games Festival Awards. It also won two Video Game BAFTAs including the one for Artistic Achievement. Quite an accomplishment for a game whose graphics are based on old-style Macintosh computer games.
  • Most Wonderful Sound: Entering a name and fate into the book, and then hearing a sudden orchestra sting as the screen cuts to black, means that you've entered three correct names and fates, putting you one more step closer to beating the game - and meaning you can stop worrying about whether you screwed up on the three the game confirms.
  • Scrappy Mechanic: The game has a single master volume control for voices, music, and so forth. While music is muted during the voice section of a memory, it is not muted if you skip the text and let the audio play over the scene on repeat viewings. Depending on the music, this can almost completely drown out the dialog.
  • Slow-Paced Beginning: It takes a solid hour to witness every memory in a slow, unskippable cutscene before you have every clue at your disposal. That being said, you can still easily take hints about who is who.
  • Squick: The death of Edward Spratt has him be brutally strangled by one of the Giant Squids tendrils while emptying his bowels. His last few minutes are both brutal and disgusting. It gets worse considering what else can be seen in that particular death—hidden in the scene are the clues to the identities of a good deal of the surviving crew members at that point, making it more likely to be revisited by players and thus have to be heard multiple times.
  • Tear Jerker: Some of the deaths are actually quite tragic.
    • For example, as Captain Robert Witterel speaks to his dead wife Abigail, he laments the death of her brother and his friend (and brother-in-law), First Mate William Hoscut, whom he was forced to shoot down in self-defense. He asks Abigail to forgive him before he shoots himself in the chest.
    • There is also Thomas Lanke, the last midshipman to die. He lost a fellow midshipman, Peter Milroy, because a cartridge bag blew up in his hands as the Kraken thrashed him about. When Lanke gets stabbed in the back and lies dying, he begs First Mate William Hoscut to tell Milroy's mother that Lanke did his best to save Milroy.
  • That One Death Vignette: Starting Chapter I: Loose Cargo tends to leave players stumped since the existence of a dead stowaway isn't obviously deducted at first and requires activating the Memento Mortem near a pretty inconspicuous barrel that barely looks damaged. The only real clues that a dead body is present are a note in the book implying a corpse can be found somewhere in the cargo hold and the cloud of flies, which you find on any corpses still on the ship.
  • Uncanny Valley: Of a sort, anyway. All of the death scenes are a frozen moment in time. Then there's the first appearance of the shells—either in the Formosan chest or being carried by a mermaid, depending on the path taken through the ship—and in these frozen moments, their sheen is the only thing that is animated.
  • What an Idiot!: A few deaths can be attributed to outright carelessness on part of the character. One example is the death of the ship's cook, which comes when the crew is hauling still-alive mermaids through the ship. He jokes about cooking and eating them, then tries to pry "a pretty shell" free from a mermaid's body, despite the warnings shouted to him from the rest of the crew. Another example is that of the foolhardy carpenter's mate. As he ran into the scene to investigate, a seaman AND his boss attempt to dissuade him from attacking the crab riders, a much bigger threat. He threw his axe at one of them and got three spikes to the chest for his trouble. And to add insult to injury, the crab rider deflected the axe and took no damage at all. And of course, there's the captain's wife, who comes on deck to ask for her husband (who's below deck) during a monster attack and gets crushed with the mast as a result.


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