Oxenfree was, uh, free a few weeks, maybe months now, ago on the Epic Games Store. Jay has been telling me for about 2 years now how good Oxenfree is. So I immediately picked it up and, in true fashion, didn’t play it for a month or two. He’s also the one who recommended SOMA to me and that is now one of my favorite games of all time. While Oxenfree doesn’t fall into the same caliber of the game for me, it was very good.
Stop me if you’ve heard this one before. A group of teenagers go to a haunted island to drink and party. There they discover a mysterious cave and set off an event that has them being chased by an evil entity the rest of the night. There’s a mystery, time travel, and scary ghosts in the PA system! Yes, it’s a generic horror plot but Oxenfree’s biggest strength is it’s cast of characters. Every line of dialog is voiced and the characters are written so well that I actually started to miss them after the credits rolled.
Oxenfree isn’t a game as much as it’s an interactive story. Like a TellTale game (RIP) with less quick time events. There aren’t a lot of choices to be made other than what the main character, Alex, will say next. It’s a very on-rails experience and while I’m sure I could have taken a slightly different route and had a slightly different experience I didn’t feel the need to replay it….until I went to go take screenshots for this post.
I completed the game in 2-weekend play sessions. In all, it took about 8 hours from start to finish. Like I said, I loved the cast of characters and the story had some fun twists and turns. Playing through Oxenfree felt like binge-watching a very good show, I just had to know what was going to happen next. The setting is a tourist island that seems to be closed for the season. The only full-time resident has recently died so you will end up in her house looking for answers. The characters manage to awaken some sort of ghost trapped in what appears to be a radio signal. Throughout the night this ghost possesses Alex’s friends as it tries to get back to the world of the living.
The visuals in Oxenfree are perfect for the story it’s trying to tell. Everything is lacking just a little bit of detail, it’s colorful, but also mostly covered in fog. I found that it set a great atmosphere for the whole story. I think if they were any more cartoony or realistic they wouldn’t have been nearly as effective. I also love that the loading screens show the polaroids that are taken in various parts of the game. These add a little more detail to the graphics and always feel like an intimate moment between the characters
There is a bit gameplay in Oxenfree besides choosing dialog trees. Alex carries a radio with her that when tuned to certain frequencies can trigger events. Each zone on the map has some unique radio stations that are interesting to listen to, so it’s worth pulling it out when you enter a new area. Also, there are a few collectibles. I found a lot of them but I didn’t go out of my way to look for them all. I’d would recommend Oxenfree if you’re looking for a laid back game with a very good story.
Alright back to the screenshot thing. See there’s a little detail I missed after the game returned to the screen. What I assumed was the new game button actually said “Continue Timeline?”. I needed screenshots so I went back in for some pictures and the opening scene was a little different than I remember. So I played on…for another few hours actually. I may need to go back and go through the whole story again and see what I can change the second time around.