An indie game with as many annoying characters as suspenseful moments. Let's jump in on this Gamers Guidepost Spotlight on Oxenfree!

Desperately searching for a reprieve to the endless wave of battle royales that my friends constantly chirp about playing, I stumbled upon pretty much exactly the type of game I had hoped to an entirely story-based experience without much in the way of real challenge.

Proper story-based games aren't as plentiful as they once were, but now and again you can find a true gem, and they usually stand out in the indie crowd more-so than the AAA.

So, I found Oxenfree, a game that takes you on a four-hour romp around the fictional Edwards Island as protagonist Alex. But what was intended to be a weekend getaway at the beach with your new stepbrother and friends becomes an uncomfortable experience from the jump in so many ways.

Oxenfree Synopsis

You'll quickly learn that Alex's real brother, Michael, died in the past year. So yeah, Alex's parents moved on SUPER quick to this whole new stepbrother thing. Also, your "friend" Clarissa, tagging along on this adventure, was dating the recently deceased. Your party crew is rounded out by Ren, a super-needy stoner that has his eyes and heart fixed on Nona.

Clarissa is an antagonist (probably has something to do with the dead guy, but I digress), Ren just can't shut up, and Nona adds next to nothing to the narrative while serving as the prototypical quiet, moody girl lurking in some dark corner.

The story kicks off with a lot of arguing by the beachside before Alex and Jonas pull themselves away from the argumentative band and make their way to a nearby cave to explore. It would be giving away the story to tell you what they find in the cave, but obviously, they find something spectral and sinister, but eventually make their way back to the beach to discover...missing friends!

Playing Oxenfree

So off you go. Gotta find them all.

Trekking across the island, while sometimes being given a choice of companion (once they're found) can be a tedious exercise. But settle in because moving about while responding to conversational cues is mostly what you do in Oxenfree, only to be broken up by the moments that you encounter lost companions or the hidden nemeses of the island.

Alex's movements are slow and plodding, and unfortunately, you'll find yourself backtracking through several areas in multiple instances, whether it be to hunt down a missed secret or just for lack of knowing exactly where you need to go next. Your map overlay does a decent job of keeping you on track but sometimes the right path isn't incredibly clear.

The game and story unfold as you move about different areas of the island. You'll learn the history of each character as you walk and converse and be given three responses to choose from each time it’s your turn to talk. And hurry up, because the game often doesn’t give you enough time to register all the potential responses in your hopper and makes one up for you.

Alex and Jonas serve as the two most intriguing and relatable characters for my part. Clarissa makes for a close third, but the whole antagonist thing really gets in the way. She really doesn't let up...


Despite the not-so-rosy impressions I’ve relayed to you so far, the game does actually have a fair share of suspenseful moments, and it does a good job of hiding story cues just long enough to keep you guessing. There’s also a good bit of lore to discover as the story progresses, but especially as you approach the end. And luckily, the story itself is good enough that you might just want to spend the extra time to track these extra story elements down. I didn't, but I have more games to review!

There are even a few surprises waiting if you find yourself interested in the story enough to replay the game a few times.

Happy hunting!

Oxenfree, originally released in 2016, is available now on all major platforms – including mobile!

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