The story begins on the last ferry to Edwards Island, an island that used to be a military base but is now uninhibited after the recent death of the island’s only permanent resident. The only three passengers on the boat are the three teenagers Alex, Jonas and Ren who are planning to stay on the island for a weekend of partying on the beach. On the island they meet Clarissa and Nona, and nobody else, so the party is smaller than anticipated. There are rumours that it is possible to tune in messages from unknown sources with an ordinary radio receiver when you are standing outside a cave located near the beach. This must naturally be tested by the friends, and strange sounds are heard from the radio. Further investigations of the phenomenon leads to unexpected and frightening supernatural results, and now the teenagers have to figure out what is going on and how to stop it.
Oxenfree is a an adventure game, where the gaming elements are limited while the story is the main attraction. The story manages to be both spooky and captivating without falling into some of the narrative traps that the combination of the supernatural and old miltary installations normally may lead to. The gameplay is mostly based on dialogues where you, as a player, control Alex’s part of the story. The interesting thing is that the dialouges are always “live” which means that you can interrupt the other characters or wait until they are finished to enter your comments. You can even ignore them and stay silent, and you can walk around and interact with the game world during the discussions. What you say during the dialogues have effects on the relationships between the characters. From this description it may seem that the game is rather word intensive, and that was also my first impressio, but it works well in the long run and gives a nice flow to the storytelling.
The art in the game looks very nice, and fits very well with the dreamlike story. The music, on the other hand, feels a bit odd in the context. It is not bad, just not fitting.
Oxenfree starts off a bit slowly and stilted when the different characters are presented, but after that it is a really good game. My main complaint is that it feels really unnatural to be able to use a standard FM radio receiver to tune into supernatural transmissions because it would require that the supernatural adheres to industry standards. AM should really be the only true paranormal modulation technology.