Okay so I’ll keep this opening part short and sweet before we get into Oxenfree, for years I’ve been writing what would be the equivalent of game reviews and I’ve always struggled with a format that works. Perhaps I should say I haven’t found one that really works for me personally yet, but then again I’m never truly happy when it comes to anything I write but I’m trying something new this time around too; Pros, Cons, and then talking about the game…let’s see if it works.
- It looks incredibly beautiful in its design and style.
- Incredible soundtrack.
- Simple yet well designed gameplay.
- An interesting and compelling story.
- Multiple endings (or at least the impression that there are, I’ve only finished it once).
- Dialog options disappear too fast when you’re given choice.
- Dialog in spots goes on too long making it confusing when you are supposed to sit and listen and when you can continue with the story.
- Despite a richly designed landscape the game is very linear in feel (I could be wrong, again, only one playthrough).
- Poor map designed when compared to the areas you are walking and exploring in.
At its core it’s a visual novel, no question about it to be honest, but it’s interactive which makes it even better for me. Now I do want to point out just how excellent the story, especially the acting is…it’s totally excellent, but more specifically you have Erin Yvette (Tales From the Borderlands), Gavin Hammon (Tomb Raider), and Britanni Johnson (Borderlands) supplying their talents which makes it even better as a whole. I will concede that this isn’t my normal type of game that I would play, or at least play a lot of, though I do enjoy visual novels at times. I have noticed however that as I age I look for more instant gratification in my gaming habits so things that are high intensity, high speed, those are the ones I usually go to first, then strategy and city building, with visual novels or slower paced games coming in dead last. That being said, however, I have zero regrets playing this, it was suggested as a game to stream out of about four and I picked this one out of the four because it had the shortest play time (approximately four hours actually).
Now of all the cons that I mentioned up above there were two that really bothered me, and one of those two may just be because I didn’t play more than just finishing it once. Okay the big one for me is that dialog is constantly going on, the friends are constantly talking as you explore and try to figure out what is going on with all the bizarre supernatural happenings and that part is great because the dialog is amazing, the problem though is that when you are given a choice of response, those options disappear rather fast and sometimes while you are actually reading them so you miss out on making a choice. I’m sure in the grand scheme of things the dialog probably does have an affect on the ending which makes it a little frustrating.
My other gripe is that when looking at the map it doesn’t always feel like it matches up with the local that you’re in. Technically it all matches up in a way, but it can be a little confusing at times. As a result, I always felt like there was a lot to explore but the maps made it feel like the entire game was super linear and you never had an opportunity to really explore a beautiful landscape. Despite those two minor gripes, I honestly cannot imagine not ever playing this game and I can promise that I’ll play it again if for no other reason to experience the changing story and quite honestly if you haven’t played it yet I highly encourage it.