It is easy to see what all the hype is about after spending some time with Oxenfree. This is a beautiful game that does its storytelling in a way that is totally different from any other experience that is available. You could liken the short amount of time given to pick an answer and the statistics of how many players chose how you have to telltale games, but there is about where the similarities end. This game delivers a totally fresh experience, matched with a magical story, and has proven to me that it well deserves the game of the year talk that it is getting in many circles.
You play as Alex, a troubled teen with a rough past. She and her friends are visiting an island to have a celebration for their school homecoming, or prom, or one of those things where kids dress up and do PDA. Things get seriously strange as the game winds on though. At times it can be genuinely creepy. Alex brings her new step brother Jonas who rides with her and her best friend Ren. They meet up on the island with Ren’s crush Nona & the obscene Clarissa. As this game allows you to choose how the story progresses I’m sure there are different ways to get there, but after they meet up on that beach things take a turn that they could have never seen coming.
I don’t want to get too far into spoiler territory, but it is definitely a supernatural tale. There are these time warps and even some looks into a sort of multiverse straight out of some quantum theory level shit. It gets deep, and it is super entertaining the entire way through. I eagerly looked forward to advancing the story each night and was very pleased with each stage of it. It was a short game, but chock full of detail and not so short that it felt cut off or half baked. The story and the game feel complete and the experience was amazing.
There are some side quest type things that involve picking up letters from a woman who had been through the same horrors as our group of friends before. There were also supposed to be messages left at certain points on the map via the radio frequency that is used so often to channel different things and unlock doors at certain areas. I was too enthralled with the main story to find these messages, but I did come across some of the letters. I plan to run back through and check these out, but they are not necessary to complete the game. I think this was a great feature to add so that people will take the time to run back through another couple of times and make sure they see all sides of the game. I’m sure there are many different outcomes with the characters and their relationships that could be revealed with more run throughs of the game.
So if you have been on the fence you should definitely give it a look. This game is top notch, and for fans of a great story that makes you think, it is probably the best of the year. I heard high praise from Marty Sliva at IGN and was very intrigued by the concept. For what it sets out to do Oxenfree is unmatched by any game that I have had the pleasure of playing, it is a gorgeous cinematic experience and an emotional ride. The fact that such a great piece of work was put out by an independent studio is nothing less than inspiring, and it affirms my love for what only indie games can do. What they may lack in high budget bad assery, they make up for in heart and witty concepts. Oxenfree is a shining example of this and I definitely hope you are able to check it out if you haven’t already.