Oxenfree

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Oxenfree on Steam

MSRP: $19.99

Platforms: Win, Mac, Linux, XBox One, PS4

Release: 1/14/16


There are several reasons that I don’t play games that are all about the story. Probably the biggest reason is that, when story comes before game play, it takes a lot of resources to do that right, and that tends to lead to games with pretty hefty prices, but lacking much in the way of replayability.  Even when your choices matter, and multiple endings are part of the package, there’s not always enough difference throughout to make replays worthwhile when you can just find the different endings online.

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But Oxenfree really appealed to me for some reason.  Still, I couldn’t justify dropping $20 on a game with a backlog as large as I have which I couldn’t expect more than a few hours of play out of.  When it recently saw a 75% off sale, however, I snapped it up without hesitation, and now, about an hour into the story, I am so very very glad I did.

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Of course, this is where things are hard.  Not only do I not want to spoil this for anyone else, I really don’t want to spoil it for myself. I don’t know what’s still to come, and I don’t want to know.  Normally, I look up some extra tidbits on the games I write about, but this time, I don’t dare, and I think that really says something about the tale that’s being told here.

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Suffice it to say that – at least so far – Oxenfree is creepy without being terrifying.  I have yet to see a blood spatter or encounter any sort of jump scare. There are multiple endings, and the decisions you make matter. You won’t just need to have your sound on, you’ll want to have your sound on – the soundtrack oozes atmosphere, and the voice actors are all excellent. It’s not exactly a visual novel, but it still manages to be literary in a way that very few games manage.

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Although it’s unlikely I’m going to stop being completely stingy with my gaming budget at this stage of the game, I wouldn’t fault anyone for spending $20 on Oxenfree.  I have a ridiculous entertainment hour per dollar value expectation from video games, but I also feel like buying this game at full price and playing it through to completion once would probably be a better use of that money than seeing a movie or two in theaters.

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