Oxenfree : All. The. Outs. In. Free.
Oxenfree is a creative 2D adventure game, with a good heap of horror and mystery thrown in.
Created by the small team at Night School Studio, which was founded by Telltale and Disney Alumni. Oxenfree was born, more or less, as a passion project.
Loosely, Oxenfree can be described as an indie video game. Compared to main-stream market – it has a lower price, is smaller scale by design, and has been created by a fresh name in the gaming industry. A great bonus feature can be found in the games menus, documentary-style ‘behind the scenes’ videos, that further add to the indie vibe. However, despite this outlook, Oxenfree delivers a far better experience then most bigger titles I have come across.
Picking it up with Stacey as the result of watching an incredibly enticing trailer. You start the story of Oxenfree as a young woman, Alex, making your way to a tourist trap island to spend a night drinking with friends. Things escalate as the night goes on, leading to the group becoming split up and slowly uncovering a darker mystery.
While this sounds generic, the narrative is delivered in just the right doses with some unpredictable moments. Once hooked, it did what few games have managed, having us both voluntarily find collectables to learn more about the world, and the mystery afoot.
Lets Talk About That
On top of a strong story, Oxenfree’s greatest surprise is how it handles dialogue. Being allowed a ton of freedom with what we could say and also when we could say it, led to an extra layer of interaction. Responding early interrupts speech of other characters, but waiting to long causes the conversation to move on. Removing those odd ‘speak now’ pauses between dialogue seen in other games makes every line feel naturally spoken (it’s like talking with friends). While it sounds like a small detail, the impact never dries up and is felt all the way till the games end.
Now I could go on about how the soundtrack catches the tone perfectly, or how the clever in-game radio tuning mechanic, is also neatly tied to the plot; but I wont. Oxenfree should be experienced fresh as possible by anyone looking for not just a great game, but great story as well.
The passion Night School Studio has put into Oxenfree is phenomenal. Doing a fantastic job of creating a tight experience all-round that has stayed on our minds, for literal weeks, after putting the game down…after our 4th play-through. We can’t recommend it enough.