Oxenfree Reviewed by Brandon C. Hovey

Oxenfree (2016)

Platform: PC

Price: $19.99 (Steam)

Developer: Night School Studio

Publisher: Night School Studio, in partnership with Starbound

[Minimal Spoilers Ahead.]

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Start Screen

I bet you only thought I played First Person Shooters. The answer is you probably were and are correct. I’ve not strayed from them in a while, yes. I do enjoy adventure games. Oxenfree is a most excellent adventure game. It is also an indie game! Independent games are on the rise just like independent authors. The internet has facilitated this and people have noticed both indie authors and indie game developers and their games. Oxenfree has already made waves. It has already received awards from the Indiecade organization according to its Steam page here.

The game’s premise is five high school seniors decide to party on Edwards Island presumably in the Pacific Northwest or somewhere off the coast of California. There planning on a night of revelry. When the player character: Alex, her friend Ren, and her new stepbrother Jonas become restless with the antics of Clarissa at the party. They decide to explore a nearby cave. In the aftermath of exploring the cave, the consequences are grim and spooky. They have stirred up the ghosts of a lost submarine.

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The plot thickens!

This is when the fun begins. These ghosts pose a threat to this party of five. The player is forced to make tough choices. Who to save first? Who can I trust? What do I do? These are major choices. Yet the game is peppered with conversations instead of cutscenes, thankfully! These conversations are sometimes the vehicles for accomplishing major or minor choices. The player has the power to make their friends enemies and make their intentions known to their friends. This reminded me of some of my favorite games: Fallout: New Vegas and the Mass Effect series.

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An example of the dialogue system.

 

Oxenfree’s puzzles are oftentimes executed with the player’s radio. These radio puzzles are fun, but challenging. This adventure game as a whole can be described as that. Yet, the game is not challenging to the point of being frustrating. A casual gamer, like myself is not going to google a walkthrough online like I have to do with the Broken Sword games.

The settings in the game are believable. Edwards Island feels like a remote getaway with a few skeletons in its closet. This is especially due to the decommissioned military installation on the island. The manor house is also a point of mystery. The soundtrack in the game adds to the vast, outdoor sci-fi atmosphere. It is composed by the electronic composer SCNTFC. Sample some of his work here.

I’m roughly just past the halfway point of the game. I am certainly curious as to which ending I’m going to have when I do finally reach the end of the game. Oxenfree is a fabulous adventure game. This game is one of those that demands your attention. You would be silly to miss out on this exceptional adventure game. Its priced at $19.99 on Steam. Buy it and play it today.

 

[Full Disclosure: The lead programmer, Bryant Cannon is my cousin]

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