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Oxenfree review
by Merlijn Eskens

Game Specific stats:
Playtime to completion: 3H
Ending: 3/5
Gimmick: 3/5
Difficulty: 1/5
How scary is this: 2/5

Okey, before we start going over the list of positives and negatives, it needs to be made clear that I feel like most issues I will discuss are technical in nature, and I would not know a better way to solve them either. Also, I like the game for what it is, I just do not think it is good enough for a recommended tag.

If this game appeals to you, do give it a try. It is worth it!

Normally, I would put bullet points on positives and negatives, but Oxenfree is a game that takes one gimmick and uses it all the way. This means I would only have one or two positives and a row of complains. Instead, I will go over it using "more text" ;)

Talking in Oxenfree:
This is the main gimmick of the game. You will get information from other characters by talking to them and giving different responses. This means that Oxenfree is very replayable, as with each replay you can give different answers and get completely different responses!
When talking to the NPC's I often felt that we actually had a discussion, and while the characters in the story are extremely one dimensional, I still managed to get attached to at least one character. (More on that in a bit).

Talking also had a few downsides;
Sometimes, I had issues with executing the following steps fast enough:
1) Read all possible answers
2) Imagine what my character is actually going to say when I click that button
3) I'm too late, now I have said "Nothing" instead. (The npc's actually consider this an answer as well)

Additionally, it was unclear if my response would be executed right away or at the end of their sentence, leading to many unintended interruptions of my character. I would have personally preferred if the system would wait a moment and then include my response.

The radio:
Cool gimmick, but really under-used. You use it near info area's to get information about the island, and near the "bad guy" area's. This is not enough, and often I felt as if I should have kept the radio out at all times to find hidden gems. This proved to be useless.

Small nitpicks:
Before I enter spoiler territory, I wanted to put down some nitpicks that might turn you away from this game.
A) Walking is a pain in this game. Aaaand, its a walking sim. You can get stuck in terrain, its hard to properly direct where you want to go. Moving up and down had me hit the edge of the collision box more often than not.
B) There are trails in this game that I failed even though I knew the answer because my character was not fast enough to walk to the correct place to stand.
 - yes, you heard that right. You can fail this game's trivia just because your movement speed is so darn low.
C) Its almost impossible to make your characters stop talking, and this is AWESOME. If any of the devs read this, this is super cool! But... when there are long dialogue trees I often accidentally interrupted the NPC's, left the area (which cancels the npc's dialog) or stood near an interactive space with my radio (both will then talk at the same time.. great)

Now, the last part that is really important in Oxenfree is the story.
If you have read the above parts and think to yourself; "Well, that's okey, as long as the story is compelling". Then, I would highly advise you to run away now and come back to the next part of the review once you have completed the game.

Alright, everyone gone? Good!
Overall, the story is well written and entertaining. It offers multiple paths and in the end you get a nice list of "choices you have made compared to other players". There is also some cool gaming meta stuff going on!

The problem I ran into however, is that there is this moment were the bad guys ask me; "Can we just kill one of your friends, and then leave the rest of you? You dont like her anyway!"
And to be fair; I didnt like her. I did not like her at all! She managed to be annoying to me the whole game up to this point. So I just said yes and won the game.

Now, its cool that I have an option like that. But the problem is that the game then gives me another option near the end and "safe everyone". No consequences at all. Just "Hey, wanna get everyone free?".
So I did. I got everyone to escape. This made me feel pretty bad. I really wanted the game to just stick to the consequences presented earlier in the story.
Additionally, the story in Oxenfree is quite vague. This certainly did not help me enjoy the ending.

Overall, I would recommend Oxenfree to anyone interested in just engaging with the story. Its not fantastic or mind blowing, but it certainly is entertaining enough.

Also, I really liked Nona. I took her with me and dished all the boys. Take that crappy punks! ;)
«Oh God i managed it»

Other reviews18

so i feel like this was my first real mobile game. i started playing it cause i couldn't sleep and it was chill to do while just laying in bed. and it probably kickstarted a long journey of playing actual good mobile games. 

to go for bad stuff first: one thing i hated was the save system! i still don't know when the game actually saves, so i had to replay some parts multiple times :(

even though it's not crazy insane innovative, this game totally hooked me! it is actually scary at times and the audio design is super good. the conversation mechanic is also really cool and i haven't seen something like it before. i feel like my experience was not super deep but still really good, i'll def be playing the sequel. 
Really enjoyed this game. My biggest complaint was that at the ending I was suddenly provided with prompts I did not understand. It appears the game expected me to explore some things more, added pieces of it to the mainline path, but didn’t force those pieces earlier. At such an emotional point it left me confused and slightly upset. 
Great fun story, decent characters, relatable and enjoyable.  Play this game if you have any appreciation for indie games.
I started and couldn't get past the first 5 minutes. Too much dialogue going on, plus I have to focus on moving around AND giving an answer on time before the bubbles disappear. Not to mention we're just so zoomed out of the scene, I have to squint to see what's going on. Maybe I didn't give it long enough, but based on some preview clips, looks like it was going to be that way the entire game.
It was fine. The most noteworthy quality is the art design and presentation. Was not really into the characters as much as I thought I’d be. Ren is a truly grating presence so there’s no incentive to foster that relationship. And Clara is so obviously traumatized that once you sink like twenty minutes into the game there is no reason to antagonize her either. So in that regard I’m not sure how successful it is as a choice based story game. But for four hours of play, it was cool enough. 
«Sit back and relax»
«OST on repeat»
A group of old friends visit an island with a strange reputation and find themselves mixed up in some spooky business themselves. Draws you in effectively and kept my interest the whole time.

Loved the art style and music, the conversations felt pretty authentic and the reveals were on point. Short playtime so definitely worth a go.
«Sit back and relax»
«OST on repeat»
This game has what makes indie games good I guess, the art. The voice acting and interaction were made real time and were good. The story itself was okay and is left for interpretation. The walk through the island was far too long and makes the game seem very slow. the dialogues should have been better implemented instead of just being the main part of just running through the island slowly.
the game has different endings based on the  options selected and has a good replayability as per other people's review. BUT I couldn't go through the entire replay as going through the island takes TOO DAMN LONG.
The OST is good but seems like most indie games in this genre use similar kind  of tunes. maybe only I felt that.

Overall it's a good game and I recommend to play.
Seems I am 4 years behind the curve here but I played this on GamePass and thought it was awesome.  Game play is simplistic but the story is engaging.
Wow, those Michael pretty.  What a gorgeous game.  The 2.5D artstyle is meshed perfectly with the world design to make a beautifully haunting world.  The sound design too, my god!  Stunning, and the mix of analog and digital for the music makes for a really nostalgic and interesting score.  The story feels very Lynchian, I love the horror but also the comedy.  The rapid unweaving of the mystery of the island as well as the sanity of the characters feels shockingly unhinged but also amazingly precise in its execution.  Love it.  I wish the dialogue was a bit cleaner?  Feels melodramatic in some points and it occasionally disconnects from the very real-feeling relationships between the characters.  I don't want to be "that guy" but I feel that more profane language would have felt much more naturalistic here.  Characters need to over-explain things too.  The puzzle elements aren't bad and I'm aware that a second playthrough grants a very cool ending but I have no desire to continue.
«Blew my mind»
A lot of great ideas that are held back by the shortfalls of the medium. In the end, this is a glorified dating sim.

The conversation system feels natural. It's the best part of this game. But it's still plagued by two of the worst issues of the genre: scripted sequences cutting off your conversations prematurely and your intentions never coming across correctly. For example, you choose "Wow, that's rough" and your character starts to mock your companion, never once showing any empathy. You'll be in the middle of some important conversation, walking along the beach when the conversation suddenly stops and you're now talking about something completely different.

The sound design is all over the place. The heavy 80's synth is used very well in the effects and soundtrack, but then there's instances where you're forced to listen to a 30 second badly looped sample for 5 minutes while you very slowly walk across the map, all the while frustrated that your character is so socially inept that they can't just say what you tell them to.

The visuals are hit or miss as well. The sci-fi horror sections had fantastic presentation, but again, we underused and underdeveloped in favor of focusing more on the conversation system and "relationship" systems. 

It had a very clever "multiplayer" integration that was underdeveloped. It was just subtle enough though, so kudos for that. Would not recommend unless you're a fan of teenage romance and Stranger Things. The mystery was over explained and pretty shallow to begin with. It's obvious that it was just an excuse to make you try to be as "close" to each character as possible by the end of the game due to choices that you didn't know you were making or just didn't want to make.
Style and personality.

A short but intense mistery adventure.

Maybe a tiny bit too much stereotyped characters.