Have you ever wondered what would happen if the kids from The Breakfast Club left detention, jumped on Oceanic flight 815, and crash landed on the island from LOST? If you answered yes, than Oxenfree might be just what you are looking for.
- Title: Oxenfree
- Developer: Night School Studio
- Release Date: January 15th, 2016
- Reviewed On: Xbox One
- Review Copy: Purchased by Reviewer
- Reviewed by: Chris White
- Story Completed: Yes
- Miles Walked: 6.97
Oxenfree is a 2D, side scrolling, adventure game developed by Night School Studio. You play as Alex, who is joined by 4 teenage friends, for a night of drinking and conversation down at the beach. However, if you couldn’t already guess, things don’t go as smoothly as the teens would have hoped. A series of events leads you and your group of friends on a bizarre and mostly unsettling adventure. By the end of the night, none of your friends are ever the same.
The gameplay is simple enough. You control Alex on a 2D, side scrolling plane. You make her go left and right or up and down using the left joystick. All actions are designated to the B button, while the A, X, and Y buttons handle the conversation options during gameplay. If you have played any current conversation driven adventure , the you will be familiar with Oxenfree’s gameplay mechanics. The unique feature here is the use of a transistor radio which you activate by pressing the Right Button/Trigger. Once the radio has been activated, you can tune the station using the right joystick.
What immediately hits you when you start the game is the art design. The game is gorgeous. It’s slightly cartoony with a dash of watercolor, but all very detailed. The art is consistently great throughout the game. The thing that hurts the art design however is the camera placement. The camera is zoomed pretty far out. The result is that you don’t get to appreciate the detail in the game because sometimes you just can’t see it. There are times that you need to be able to see a wide view of the area you are in to discover where to go, but this could have easily been fixed by pulling the camera in and assigning a button to zoom out when needed.
Oxenfree really has to be measured by the experience of playing the game. There are no time trials or boss battles…in fact, there is no fail state in the game whatsoever. You are just living this experience with the characters on screen. The issue that I had most with Oxenfree is that the story is mostly a mixed bag. Without spoilers, some crazy stuff starts happening on the island. On top of dealing with the supernatural, you are also digging deeper and deeper into these characters’ lives. I really loved all of the character stuff that happens. It’s real and resonates. In the opening of the review I liken them to the “Breakfast Club” and that is a great compliment. I cared about this group of friends, about where they came from and where they are going. In contrast, I just didn’t care about the supernatural stuff at all. The concept is sound and the presentation is down right spooky, but I feel like I would have rather just played a regular Friday night kegger down at the beach with the guys sans any spooky visitors.
The first time through the game took me about 5 and half hours. I was taking my time and trying to explore where I could. My second play through was probably closer to 3 hours. There are multiple endings and various secrets to find, so there is some value in replaying the game. If you are an achievement hunter, you will have to complete the game at least 3 times to unlock everything.
Oxenfree is a great story driven adventure that is worth the price of admission. Unfortunately, the story is inconsistent and sometimes overly convoluted which keeps Oxenfree from masterpiece status. That being said, there are few games that I have played which have stuck with me as long or were more emotionally engaging. This is simply one of my favorite games of the year and it’s just January!
- Amazing Atmosphere
- Haunting Story
- Great Conversation System
- POV is Too Wide at Times
We would love to hear what you thought about the game so tell us the comments if you agree.