Oxenfree Review | Love, Loss and Living.

Friday 29 March 2019


Publisher: Night School Studio
Developer: Night School Studio
Mac Review

Recently Epicgames let us all know that Oxenfree was now available for free to download, I have been wanting to try this game out for a while now but never got around to giving it a go but thanks to them making it free until April 4th, I saw it as my chance to download it and play. The game focused around a group of teens who travel to Edward Island to have some fun on the beach, not all of them knew each other and weren't too happy when they found out that it would only be the 5 of them, the main character is a young girl called Alex she takes her stepbrother with her to the island to introduce him to her best friend, I got the impression that Alex wanted to bring her stepbrother (Jonas) so he could make new friends but unfortunately it was just her, her best mate Ren, girl Ren fancied (Nona) and a girl called Clarrisa who used to be Alex's brother's girlfriend.

The style of Oxenfree is very mixed it has an element of horror, puzzle, and telltale style but mashed together it works wonderfully, the atmosphere that surrounds the game leaves you wanting to explore the truth a bit more but at the same time it leaves you worried about the safety of your friends who are taking the full blow of what you did inside of a cave once you reached the beach to party with your friends. Ren takes you and Jonas into a cave and shows you 3 different piles of stones which he was sure was something that the kids out there, previously when you were traveling to the Island you was discussing bringing a radio but Ren wouldn't be specific as to why you needed one, not until you reached this cave with rocks.

The pile of rocks are markers which set off a light when you tuned the radio in, this light started to emit from a hole in the cave and Alex and Jonas decided to go deeper into it to find out exactly what this was, unfortunately, this would be the downfall for the gang and would throw them into a loops and separate them from one another which forced them to try and find each other. This made for great gameplay as it helps you discover what tuning in the radio has done and how it has not only affected them but also the old woman who lived and recently died on the island. Although this is partly a puzzle game the puzzles weren't too hard, using a radio to unlock a door would take some tuning with a radio or solving a riddle you would just have to walk up to an object and click on it so the game isn't as challenging as I thought it would be.

The quirky artwork makes the game feel less sinister than it actually is, even when Alex runs into trouble and has to use the radio in order to help her out of the situation if anything it made me more curious. I soon discovered that the way I replied to someone would slowly have an effect on the way they acted towards me, so it was obvious that their relationships with each other would be affected by the outcome of my dialogue choices. Alex feels very conflicted about helping Clarrisa at times as their friendship has never been the same since her brother died, I felt bad because they were both hurting but it's unfair for Clarrisa to be so harsh towards Alex and she should understand that it's hard for Alex living without her brother, but even though they had issues Alex was able to put them to one side and help Clarrisa out.

I also got the impression that Alex didn't want to try too hard with her step brother in case it looked like she was trying to replace her brother and that held her back from having a bond with him, the situation they were thrown into helped them become closer though (that was one of the outcomes I got). When Alex tuned into the radio she had somehow tuned into the supernatural world where the entities lived, the tuning somehow brought them out and made them start messing with the 5 teens if Alex had never used the radio none of this would happen but they also would never have learned the secrets of Edwards Island. You also find yourself stuck in loops that keep rewinding your movements, this was quite cool because you have to use tape recorders to try and put time right again.

There is a lot of walking throughout the whole game but it's not tedious nor challenging, the game makes the journey throughout the game more interesting with the signs that show you can tune into the radio to listen to the radio and learn about a certain part of the island which reminded me a little of when I went the Roman Baths in Bath and listened to a telephone to find out information on the history behind the ruins. You will also come across standing stones which are the same as the rocks at the start of the game when you tune into these the radio will turn red when you're at the correct station, which is creepy!

The pace of the game felt perfect for teens who were hesitant about what they may bump into, I thought the gang would act more scared than they actually were but they used humour as a coping mechanism which is something I admittedly do too. Seeing them put their feelings towards one another to one side to work as a team was nice, I didn't want to deal with typical cheesy teenage drama so when the game didn't focus on that I was pleased. I don't want to spoil the rest of the game but what I do want to say is that this game shows how communicating with one another and trying to get through a terrifying situation as a team can help you grow as a person and learn that even though people put on a hard exterior they do need help sometimes.

I played this game via Mac but with a controller, because I'm not the biggest fan of using a keyboard to game, I found that my controller kept disconnecting from Epic Games Launcher which was irritating but apparently it can be a common issue when it comes to the launcher and did end up fixing itself in the end. Overall I loved this game, it took me about 3 and half hours to finish due to the pace of it, it's definitely a game that I could see myself playing again (on PS4 maybe) the story was engaging and kept me wanting to learn more, love and loss is a huge part of Oxenfree and deals with grieving extremely well, I give this game 5/5!


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