Released Jan. 14th, 2016
Night School Studio
Oxenfree is a modern day story with some very nostalgic game elements. I was able to relate to some of the situations that happen in the game, making the game play only more memorable. After reading the title, I had immediately thought of my days as a child yelling “Olly olly oxenfree!”, but didn’t really know what it meant. After a quick Bing search (yes I use Bing, because Microsoft Rewards), there’s quite a bit of history with the saying and now it makes sense as to why we yelled it. History lessons aside, below is my breakdown of this wonderfully enjoyable and nostalgic experience.
I generally don’t like playing short games, but I’m glad I played this one. I poured around 3 – 4 hours on my first play through. Now take in mind, I didn’t go hunting around for everything, as I knew going in, there were multiple endings based on your choices. That leads us to our first game mechanic. Playing as the main character, Alex, the story is told through a series of dialogues, interjected with moments where you decide what to say given the situation. Doing so affects your relationship with other characters involved, which can ultimately change how the game ends. Cue the “choose-your-own-adventure” nostalgia!
While you play the game, Alex has a radio that she ends up using to unlock gates and doors sealed by radio frequency locks, as well as other purposes that you will have to find out on your own. The controls are super easy, intuitive, and do not require any further explanation than what is already explained in the game.
The music and ambient sounds are amazing in this game. The music has a somewhat creepy and tense sound aesthetic that is heavily influenced by an 80s synthesizer. Like nails on a chalkboard… see now your hairs are standing up slightly, a slow shiver runs down your arm. That’s the kind of creepy this game lives up to.
The one and only thing that really got to me, was the number of loading screens the game has. There are quite a few parts where there’s 30-60 seconds of dialogue and then loading screen, followed by 30-60 seconds and then another loading screen. The loading screens aren’t just a quick 10-15 seconds either. As I recall some can take up to a full minute. I feel this approach kind of took away from the game, but not enough to the point where I wouldn’t just stop playing.
To summarize, my 3 – 4 hours of play were well worth the story. The game retails for $20 bucks on Xbox, PSN, or Steam. I had picked it up for free through Xbox Live Gold. Is it worth the $20? That’s for you to decide. Personally, I’d wait for the game to go on sale. In closing, and to really experience this game, I would advise you create the following conditions for your play through:
- Start Playing around 7, 8pm at night. Maybe even 9pm if you don’t need to go to bed till later.
- Play the game, start to finish (full 3-4 hours), maybe a bit longer if you try to collect everything you can.
- Play the game with the lights off or fairly dim.
- If at all possible, keep the sound up moderate to a little high and if you have a subwoofer, tune it accordingly.
It doesn’t matter if you’re someone who is easily scared or not. I myself was not able to anticipate all of the intense scenes and enjoyed the game that much more because of it. The reason for the late start time is because your brain tends to start wondering a bit around the 12-1am timeframe, inhibiting the player from being able to predict events. It helps a lot with the immersion as well, as you might possibly even be in the same mindset as the characters.
That’s it from me. If you’ve played this game recently or played it after reading this post, leave a message in the comments on your experience.