Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Oxenfree

This month the game we played for Indie Game Gang was Oxenfree, the first game from Night School Studio! Oxenfree is a story/adventure game with some spooky paranormal elements! (P.S. Happy May the 4th!)

Oxenfree

"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."

Oxenfree
Regular fog or ominous fog? Only time will tell.

Oxenfree is mostly a story based game, so as long as you listen to the characters and follow your map then it's pretty straight forward. If you're into Telltale games (or any other story based games, really), then you might want to check this game out. You spend most of the game with your new stepbrother, Jonas, but the other three characters (Clarissa, Nona and Ren) filter in and out as well. Every time you're with these characters there's going to be conversation, and the responses you can choose from (if you want to respond) appear in comic book like speech bubbles. I like how the conversations in this game flowed in a realistic way; like if your friend is saying something stupid you're totally free to just interrupt them.

Oxenfree
Just your typical, not-spooky cave. Nothing to see here.

Something I was really curious about was how scary this game would actually be. I like scary, but I can be pretty jumpy which is a bad combination. Did I jump while playing this game? Yes. But was it partially my own fault because I always had the grand idea to play it in the dark, late at night while I was home alone? Yes. Why did I do that? I don't know, I guess I'm self destructive in that way. Last year I went through a similar phase, and whenever I was at home and had a few drinks, I'd think it was the PERFECT time to play any video game with jumping puzzles - such as LIMBO or Thomas Was Alone - games I'm notoriously bad at even when I'm not drinking. Then I'd wonder why I never beat these games. #shrug

Oxenfree
Walking by a completely regular looking collapsed building, with no questionable shadows on it.

An interesting mechanic this game uses is Alex's radio. Somehow she's able to communicate (and sometimes control) the ghosties by tuning into different frequencies on her radio. I had trouble picking up the entire story, so I'm not exactly sure how/why that works. A lot of the island background stories were kind of hard to keep up with. Lots of information is thrown at you, most of the time when you need to be focusing on something ELSE in the game (like saving your friend, or not dying, or something), so it can be hard to keep it all straight. That was kind of a bummer.

Oxenfree
Just my friend being possessed. NBD, I can fix this! 

While I definitely enjoyed Oxenfree, it still had its downfalls. The island isn't very big, and you spend a good chunk of time going back and forth across the island to accomplish your tasks, so there's definitely a lot of walking involved. Luckily there's lots of dialogue to keep you occupied, but still. Something else that bugged me a little is that the game has multiple endings that I would LIKE to experience, but for the most part the game doesn't have a lot of replay value. The endings are mostly determined by things you choose to say in conversations. There's a couple other things that can help decide your ending, which I won't say because they're spoiler-y, but again they are not these big, interesting things that I would replay the whole game just to do those parts differently. So while I do want to see the other endings, I'll be watching them on Youtube. Which probably is not the attitude the developers were hoping for.

Oxenfree
Um, I can probably fix this?

Overall, I give Oxenfree a 7 out of 10. I wanted to like this game a lot more, but it just has some kinks to work out. I read there will be a few changes for the PS4 release; I wonder what that could mean? Anyway, let's talk about you now. Have you played Oxenfree, or would you like to? What else are you playing right now? 

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