As part of my Halloween for babies experiment, where I have tried to play through three of the least scary games in my backlog which are: Inside, Dead Rising 3 and Oxenfree. All three have a horror theme but, are not too long nor too scary for me to play through, without running away hiding in a cupboard and vowing to never play them again or having a recurring nightmare in which my over imaginative imagination makes the horrors much, much worse then they should be and mostly are. Yes I am a baby so much of a baby that on a visit to a cinema last I noticed that the trailer for the new Saw movie was just starting, which led me to sit there eyes tightly closed, with my hands over my ears, until my friends told me it was save to look at the screen again-it wasn’t .Anyway deciding to start at the bottom its Oxenfree that was my first pick for a play through.
Oxenfree is a game I couldn’t rush through despite its relatively short play time of 3-5 hours,depending on your play style. This was because this teenage coming of age story was filled with stories, interesting scenery to stare at and lovely environments to gawp at and as a bit of a negative a story that is in parts excellent but also equally slow and un-motivating in others.
Oxenfree puts you in control of the blue haired protagonist Alex who is on the way to the local spooky island with her best friend Ren and her soon to be step-brother Jonas. The interactions between you and these two leads onto which is the most fun part of the game. The social interactions, where taken as a single snippet of dialogue the voice acting and conversations can seem a little stale, they become something really interesting when you are a conversation with someone, they move quickly, with your dialogue choices adding real weight to a conversation you are having with someone and not just the usual press A for the story to move forward options we are given in most games with any conversation options. The conversations feel natural and just as they would if you or I were talking now. With one person talking over another and an ability to really turn someone either towards or against you in a few conversations. If feels really natural and is quite a joy. I guess this has to be expected though when your team does include some ex Telltale developers.
Still a game can’t be played for dialogue alone.
Its a shame for however brilliant the conversations are, the lovely looking environments and scenery it can’t cover over what is a bit of a weak story. Don’t get me wrong the story contains (spoilers ahead) enchanted radios, ghosts and time bending mechanics but I felt that there was a much bigger, much meater story buried just beneath the surface, maybe I didn’t see it, maybe over the next couple of days I will digest the story and realize the full story was staring me in the face the whole time and I couldn’t see it. I imgaing not though and I think the game realizes this itself as the ending does encourage you to go back for a second play through. Maybe then I will see what I am missing. This however is still an enjoyable adventure
Played on PS4. Is of course available on most devices of your choosing.