Every once in awhile some newfangled video game comes along – in this case, ‘a mix of Freaks and Geeks, Poltergeist and the best teen films of the ’80s’. Oxenfree was brought into actuality by the Los Angeles-based independent studio Night School, comprised of highly devoted visionaries, Sean Krankel, production coordinator for Disney Pixar movies and Adam Hines, lead writer for Telltale’s The Wolf Among Us and Tales from Borderlands.
Slated to be released on Steam and Xbox One on January 15, 2016, pre-order links are available through the game’s official website, a matter of utmost importance for players who are dealing with the hysteria of the approaching release date (no worries, you too will soon experience the same excitement after reading the entire article!).
Imbuing engrossing characteristics from Another World and Song of the Sea promises a laborious task, however, Oxenfree still manages to encompass so many details, triggering momentous flashbacks with every advance – the surreal illustrations of Eyvind Earle, an ever-changing minimalistic art composition and nevertheless an outburst of the same pleasure as the one of experiencing the Saturday morning cartoon program.
Alex, the central figure and character of the single-player game is plunged into a supernatural thriller, as she and her step-brother, Jonas, participate in an overnight party, somewhere on an uncanny island, home to a decommissioned military installation. Engaging further in the game’s stimulating visuals and interactive gameplay mechanics, the background becomes somewhat reminiscent of a coming-of-age story, as the characters tune a handheld receiver, discovered within the eerie caves of the island. The intensifying scenario built across the inception of a paranormal rift introduces a terrifying outcome, consequently reshaping the environment. As the urban legend becomes fathomable and its underlying, cryptic features become verisimilar, numerous ghostly events are outlined, leaving matters of soundness completely up to players.
It’s all surely very strange – much like the swelling enigma existent at the core of Eerie, Indiana, yet Oxenfree is rendered as a meticulously calculated experience, made easily palpable through the ingenuity of SCNTFC or less commonly known, Andy Rohrmann. Owing to his inexhaustible passion for movies, videogames and TV shows, he was able to create an authentic, slightly retro ‘reel-to-reel’ score, evocative of something ominous and dreadful coming along.
Providing a closure, the upcoming indie game is a ‘part teen drama, part terrifying ghost story’; it provides unique scenarios, spanning over decades and past lifetimes, setting a visual benchmark and clear non-linear design with respects to communication, narrative and story. Featuring the voice talents of Erin Yvette (The Wolf Among Us) and Gavin Hammon (The Walking Dead, Tomb Raider), Oxenfree lastly brings a highly perceptive conversation system which is able to dramatically modify the storyline and established relations among characters, pointing out the importance of every decision.
Nevertheless, as expressed by Krankel in an interview with IGN:
“There are ways, by the end of the game, to have a whole other set of scenarios…there’s some stuff that you never thought could have happened in the beginning.”