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Return of the Obra Dinn’s Critique of Capitalism

When you pick up the pocket watch in Lucas Pope’s Return of the Obra Dinn, you’ll be confronted with a rather curious message: memento mortem. The term literally translates to “remember death,” but its contextual meaning defies easy explanation. What precisely is Pope trying to communicate?

You assume the role of an insurance adjuster in Return of the Obra Dinn. Working for the East India Company in 1807, your job is to investigate a merchant vessel which set sail for the Orient in 1802, but recently washed up without a living soul aboard. Armed with a few sketches, a crew manifest, and a pocket watch that can turn back time, you have to figure out exactly what happened. Your conclusions are summarized in a report which records the amount of insurance money owed to each of the involved parties. (The results of your inquiry are also copied into a logbook). In other words, your task is to ensure the smallest possible payout by finding fault and assigning blame.

This kind of calculus l…

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