Game Review: Oxenfree by Night School Studio

 
 

Oxenfree is a supernatural thriller game about the changing relationships among a group of teenage characters as they spend the night trapped on an island trying to defeat the ghosts that keeping them there and messing with time.


Oxenfree by Night School Studio

 

 

Official Description:

Oxenfree is a supernatural thriller about a group of friends who unwittingly open a ghostly rift. Play as Alex, a bright, rebellious teenager who brings her new stepbrother Jonas to an overnight party on an old military island. The night takes a terrifying turn when you unwittingly open a ghostly gate spawned from the island’s cryptic past. How you deal with these events, your peers, and the ominous creatures you’ve unleashed is up to you.

YOU determine every aspect of Alex’s story while exploring Edwards Island, uncovering the base’s dark past, and changing the course of your friends’ lives.

 

More Info:

You can get more info and buy the game here on Steam or here on the game’s website!

 

Review:

Oxenfree is an interesting and trippy little game that likes to mess with the player but also has a thought-provoking element that leaves a lot of room for interpretation. So here are my thoughts!

Gameplay:

You and some friends are on an island one night, you accidentally open a ghost portal, and strange things start happening. There’s no real challenge aspect to the game because there’s really only one path you can take, and it guides you through everything fairly well. Other than that, it’s mostly walking around and choosing dialogue. But that’s because the real focus of the game is on the relationships between the characters. That’s what your decisions affect most in the end.

It took me about four hours to get through it once, and about the same when I played through it for a second time.

Likes:

– The gameplay was unique in some ways. At least, *I* had never played anything like it. There’s a whole storyline, but there are moments when a scene will play out, other times when you’re completely in control to wander around and interact with certain things. The dialogue is the coolest part though. The whole thing is voice acted, but there are no words on the screen like with a visual novel. The characters just talk while they’re hanging out and walking around, and every so often you’ll get some dialogue options to choose from. You have to choose quickly though, or you miss your opportunity to say anything. That is a choice in and of itself though and might lead to different responses from other characters. But the dialogue and voice acting are great and feel really natural.

– The character relationship aspect is interesting. Part of me wants to play again just to try making different choices and see what different ways the relationships might play out.

– The graphics are really pretty. I loved all the scenery/backgrounds.

– The spookiness of the game is fun. It’s a bit spooky while you play (at least the first time, when you don’t know what to expect, and don’t worry, it’s not too scary—I’m a wimp), but it’s trippy afterward, when you think about things. *SPOILER* All throughout the game there are things referred to as time loops, and once you get to the end, you end up in a time loop, and instead of starting a new game, you have the option to “continue timeline” and essentially play the whole game over again, but this time things are a little different and Alex (the player character) remembers some things. You also get a somewhat different ending, but the time loops never end regardless of your choices, from what I can tell. You can always continue the timeline. I’ve read some different theories about this game and the time loops/alternate realities. I don’t know if there is an actual explanation or if it was just meant to give players something to speculate about. *END SPOILER*

Dislikes:

– All the walking around the island gets tedious.

– The game autosaves and only saves at certain points (when you cross from one location to another and there’s a loading screen).

Overall:

Overall, this is a fun, thought-provoking, and unique game, and I enjoyed playing it!

 
 
 

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  1. Greg

    Ooh this looks freaky! Never go to caves on an island, people- that’s basic! Oh well, too late. The spoilery thing you mentioned definitely sounds cool, and seems like it would give it replay value? Plus, just to mess with your mind lol. :)

    I like dialogue branching options too, especially when they impact the gameplay/ end.

    1. Kristen Burns

      I definitely thought it gave it replay value since I did play bowl thing again lol. But there’s also replay value to make different choices and get to know different characters, which has different outcomes on the relationships. But yeah, just don’t go into creepy caves, period lol.

  2. Becky @ A Fool's Ingenuity

    I got this game free (I think because you mentioned it was going free actually) and although I’ve not finished it (playing on PC is hard, might need to learn how to link a controller) but it was so so good. I do agree that the walking about dragged but that wasn’t helped by playing with a keyboard. I do really want to play this again and actually finish and find out the whole story.

    1. Kristen Burns

      Lol yeah it was probably because of me then since I also got it for free and probably told everyone about it at the time. I played it with a keyboard, I didn’t even think about how it might have been less frustrating with a controller. You should finish!

  3. Sally Silverscreen

    Really good review! I’ve never heard of this game before, but it sounds like an interesting concept. I found out about your blog through a post called “My Favourite Literary Character” from the blog, Bookworm. I checked out your article about why some people like fictional characters who do terrible things. In that post and in your comments on the Bookworm post, you seem to be very knowledgeable about the Vampire Chronicles series as well as the ‘Queen of the Damned’ film. For an upcoming blogathon, I’m writing an editorial where I attempt to figure out what the net worth of the characters from the movie is. I was wondering if you would like to provide some insight toward my project? If you choose to do so, I will give you credit in my editorial. I have also taken some lengthy notes for this project. Do you have an email address where I could send my notes to?

    1. Kristen Burns

      I’m sorry, I don’t think I would be much help for that as it’s been awhile since I read the books now, and I don’t remember the details. It sounds like it will be interesting though, best of luck with it!

      1. Sally Silverscreen

        Thanks, Kristen! That’s ok, as I told Jen from Bookworm, a lot of my project is based on guesses and assumptions. I’ll try my best to make my post as accurate as I can. Hope you can check it out when it’s published!