After releasing earlier this year on Xbox One and PC, Oxenfree has finally come to the PS4. Besides a few new features such as touch pad integration, nothing much has changed since the original release, but we thought we would still review the game alongside its PS4 release.
Oxenfree tells the story of five friends who take a short vacation to an abandoned military island and accidentally open a ghostly rift. You take on the role of Alex, a teenager who recently lost her brother. You arrive on the island with your step brother and your best friend, and quickly meet up with two other people.
I didn’t think I was going to like Oxenfree. And at first, I didn’t. I found one of the characters who was supposed to be funny extremely annoying and the story a little slow paced for this type of game. However, once the rift was opened and the paranormal activities started occuring, I was completely hooked up until the end.
Before I explain more, let me take a step back. Oxenfree is a story-based game that revolves around dialogue. Much like what we see in Telltale’s games, you get to choose almost every line of dialogue that your character speaks. At first these were little things, such as choosing to make a joke or a serious comment. However, they eventually turned into more important, life and death decisions.
And those choices are what drew me in to the story. You know a choose-your-own-adventure type game is good when it makes you regret your choices, and that’s exactly what Oxenfree did. There was one choice in particular near the end (no spoilers, don’t worry), where I chose what I thought was the best choice, but it ended up making everything horrible, and ruining Alex’s relationship with the other characters. There are many choices throughout the game that can have similar consequences.
This was all good up until the ending. Oxenfree offers multiple endings, and the one I got didn’t feel right based off of what choices I made. It just didn’t make sense, after playing through the entire game and seeing how choices affected things, everything I did seemed to have very little impact on the ending.
Putting the ending aside, the rest of the game was amazing. I was drawn in to all of the different relationships between the characters. The paranormal story took sort of a backseat to that, but it was still pretty good.
But what really stood out in this game was the dialogue system. While walking across the island trying to get from one point to another, the characters realistically engage in small talk. There is almost no pre-selected dialogue for Alex, meaning you get to pick all of it. I only have two complaints about the system.
The first is that sometimes dialogue options disappear two fast, not giving you a chance to read all of them. The second is that dialogue doesn’t carry over between locations. If you move to a new location mid sentence you won’t pick the conversation back up once the next place loads, even if the characters are in silence.
Before I wrap this up, there’s one more part I’ve got to address. One of the major parts of the story is that you have a radio, which you used to open the rift. This is also where you see a PS4-only feature, allowing you to use the touchpad to change the channel. Without giving too much away, I just wanted to say that I loved how much the radio ties in to the story. It’s a tool that at first seems meaningless and more of a gimmick, but eventually you learn how important it is.
Overall, Oxenfree is a great game. The ending could of used some work, but besides that and a few other minor flaws I’m very impressed with it. If you’re looking for a game with a great story and great atmosphere, I’d definitely recommend picking this one up.