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This piece contains spoilers for Return of the Obra Dinn.
Waves lap gently against the struts of the pier as seagulls wheel, dive, and caw overhead. Halyards on anchored sailboats gently clink in time with the movements of the water. A gentle rumble emanates from the engines of the docked Merchant Navy vessels, underscoring the whole scene.
This is the harbour of Falmouth as it exists today. Situated at the mouth of the River Fal it remains a busy and important shipping hub for England's South West corner. Looking out from the pier towards the docks on a drizzly Saturday morning it's not hard to imagine the haunted corpse of a single ghost ship slowly drifting in to port. This is how Return of the Obra Dinn begins, the titular ship borne into the bay with damaged sails and a slaughtered crew. The player is hired by the East India Company to investigate the grizzly fate of the ship's crew and find out just how this came to pass.
"I forget everything between footsteps.
"'Anna!' I finish shouting, snapping my mouth shut in surprise.
"My mind has gone blank. I don't know who Anna is or why I'm calling her name. I don't even know how I got here. I'm standing in a forest, shielding my eyes from the spitting rain. My heart's thumping, I reek of sweat and my legs are shaking. I must have been running but I can't remember why.
The finalists for the 2019 Independent Games Festival award ceremony on March 20th have been announced, and they remind me just how joyful a challenge it is to keep up with indie development. Every category is packed with exciting, creative endeavours both complete or still in development – a reminder that 2018 was a great year for games, and 2019 stands to be even better. Now I’ve just got to keep track of all of them.
Among the headliners for the Seumas McNally Grand Prize are RPS favourites like low-fi groundhog day adventure Minit, the excellent maritime mystery Return Of The Obra Dinn (which Andreas Inderwildi picked apart earlier today) and the bizarre Hypnospace Outlaw, a deep dive into a fictional 90s internet dream-world. Also in the running is virtual voyeur sim Do Not Feed The Monkeys, and the upcoming physics-driven platform roguelike Noita. Every category is full of exciting games, though – check out the full list on the IGF page here, or below.
Warning: contains spoilers.>
When Ernest Shackleton s ship, the Endurance, was trapped in unyielding ice, it was clear the Imperial Trans-Antarctic Expedition had taken a bad turn. In late 1915, after months of anxious waiting, the sheer pressure of the ice crushed the most advanced ship of its time like a nutshell , according to captain Frank Worsley. Stranded on the ice for ten months, the entire crew, battered but alive, was eventually rescued. Far less lucky was the crew of the whaleship Essex, which sank in the middle of the Pacific after a sperm whale attack in 1820. When the few remaining survivors were rescued months later, they were sucking the bone marrow from what remained of their fellow sailors.
The crew of the Obra Dinn share a similarly morbid fate.
The doors have been opened, the games inside have been devoured, and now it’s time to recycle the cardboard. Below you’ll find all of our picks for the best PC games of 2018, gathered together in a single post for easy reading.
I realise, at the end of 2018, that I ve spent much of the year digging back over games released in 2017 and earlier. That s in part because I ve been subject to the demands of evil overlord Graham, but also because I ve been trapped in the gravity well of monster timesinks like Destiny 2 and Divinity 2. When I did reach escape velocity, I cherished my time in the kind of small-and-perfectly-formed games that 2018 did so well: Dead Cells, Celeste, The Banner Saga 3. All of which get honourable mentions in my list, but get beaten out by (more…)
I ve spent 2018 particularly distracted, flitting between games and feeling guilty that I haven t quite finished them or spent the time they deserved. Maybe it s because there have been so many good games? Or maybe I m just awful. Either way, I resolve to take better care next year.
Now I look back, I realise that I ve particularly enjoyed a series of games which gave me space to explore them on my own terms. Whether on the scale of giant monsters or the confined scale of the decks of a ship, they ve all felt expansive and generous, and respectful of me as a player.
Look out. The year 2018 is going down in a storm. There are hundreds of games aboard, running, jumping, trying their best to survive the maelstrom. But there s only one tiny lifeboat, and only enough room for three games. It falls on the sorry shoulders of the RPS podcast, the Electronic Wireless Show, to decide which trio of games clamber onto the life raft and which games drown and become lost to history.