Oxenfree (Radio-Powered Supernatural Thriller)

I've had my eye on this one for a while, but I only realized that it's coming out this week when I looked it up for the "2016 games you may not know about" thread.

I'm a sucker for games that do interesting things with storytelling. From the previews, this certainly fits that bill.

Official website

Haven't heard about this but definitely looks interesting. Love when I find a game that looks interesting and I don't have to wait a long to play it.

They're also paired up with Robert Kirkman, and apparently there are films and comics and such in the works to expand the world.

Unrelated to the potential expanded universe, I would like to play this game soon.

I added it to my wishlist. It looks interesting alright.
Edit:
There's a twitch stream going on at the moment http://www.twitch.tv/skybound

played a tiny bit just now - seems very promising (liking the dialogue!) but it runs very poorly on my laptop. Might need to see if I can tweak it's settings a bit somehow - right now it's very sluggish for some reason.

OK, finally got a chance to play it. Extremely non-spoilery notes:

- I think the closest thing I can compare it to is Telltale's recent games. With maybe a side glance at Kentucky Route Zero. (Or To The Moon? Kinda?) Don't come in expecting adventure game puzzles or such; there's stuff to figure out but it just isn't that kind of game. It's about relationships, not lots of branching choices or puzzles.

- That said, I know I missed a lot of stuff, though I don't know how much large-scale variation there is.

- The dialog is great.

- Creepy.

(accidentally posted instead of edited, but whatever...)

pyxistyx wrote:

played a tiny bit just now - seems very promising (liking the dialogue!) but it runs very poorly on my laptop. Might need to see if I can tweak it's settings a bit somehow - right now it's very sluggish for some reason.

You might want to check out this FAQ they have; there's a note about some graphics cards not being properly detected on laptops and instructions for how to make sure it's enabled.

i shall double check that next time I play it, ta

Gremlin wrote:

OK, finally got a chance to play it. Extremely non-spoilery notes:

- I think the closest thing I can compare it to is Telltale's recent games. With maybe a side glance at Kentucky Route Zero. (Or To The Moon? Kinda?) Don't come in expecting adventure game puzzles or such; there's stuff to figure out but it just isn't that kind of game. It's about relationships, not lots of branching choices or puzzles.

- That said, I know I missed a lot of stuff, though I don't know how much large-scale variation there is.

- The dialog is great.

- Creepy.

I read a bit of an interview with the devs-- they're former Telltale folks who wanted to build off the successful design elements of Telltale's games, but taking the design in their own direction. So this sounds appropriate. The more I hear about this game the more I want to play it.

If it has even the slightest drop of KR0 in its DNA, then I'm all in. It doesn't appear to be on PS4, but I can dust off my laptop and have a go at it.

I played the first hour or so and am liking it. There's definitely a bit of jank in how the systems work, but it's easy to ignore.

I don't think it quite reaches the depths that KRZ does, but there's more than a bit of similarity there. It's an overt thriller instead of magical realism, and the focus on the characters is more...intense. KRZ is about the slow contemplation of what you choose to say, Oxenfree is about keeping up with a fluid conversation. And, like KRZ, don't come in expecting action sequences or puzzles. There's stuff to figure out, but this is mostly a game about talking.

It has definitely sparked some thoughts about games, stories, and interactivity, but that's deep spoiler territory.

There's one remaining thing that's bothering me about the ending, but that's after two-and-a-half playthroughs. I'd definitely be open to discussing spoilered reactions once some more people have finished the game.

I'm sad to see that this thread died out in January. Oxenfree just released on PS4 today so I thought I'd pop in to see what sort of first impressions I could find (perhaps a bit late, as I'm in the process of downloading it at the time of this post...). I haven't played KT0, so I can't use it as a reference, but the trailer gives me a strong The Swapper vibe, story wise. I'll come back later with thoughts after I've played a bit.
As an aside, the dynamic theme makes me extra hopeful about the kind of game I think it is. It's nearly as good as the Firewatch theme in art direction and ambience, though I'm not sure if the Oxenfree theme is dynamically tied to the time of day as of yet.

Simultaneous with the PS4 release, the PC version got an update today.

Which is what I was waiting for to do another playthrough, though I'm busy enough that probably won't happen for a little bit.

Well, you've inspired me to get back to playing. I need to finish it still!

Finished! I enjoyed it. Dropping it for a few months and coming back to it wasn't a great idea. I should probably play through it again, but I don't think I will just because I have too much to play. I think there were a lot of wonderful game mechanics that didn't quite come together perfectly. Same goes for the overall story, but that may just be me missing some of the subtle stuff.

Spoiler:

So, overall it seems like everything is just stuck in a time loop. There are the smaller time loops and then there is the overall time loop of going out on the ferry to the island?

Normally in this type of story Alyx would have died and this is her purgatory scenario. I didn't quite get any hints as to that being the case, though. It was sort of like a side effect of Michael's purgatory or something weird. I'd love a summary of what's going on with the plot, Gremlin.

OK, I finally got around to playing the new game plus continuation thing. Starts off exactly the same, as you'd expect, but then...

As for the plot...

Spoiler:

I'm assuming that you've found all of the Adler letters and completed the game.

Also, the plot summary on Wikipedia is very wrong, or at least obsessively detailed about one particular, not very significant, timeline.

So, now that I've got the initial warning out of the way:

Spoiler:

OK, first things first: The Kanaloa sank in 1943. That's what ostensibly kicked this whole thing off. The experiment, Maggie's guilt, the lost crew. You know the details if you've dug into it. Whatever happened pushed the "ghosts" out of our dimension. They ended up disembodied but sort-of-conscious, though it apparently took effort for them to stay that way (they talk of clinging, and the void) and it affected their memories and sense of self (faces, names, independant identities).

They exist either outside of time or despite time: there's a reference to how they "watched the universe's conception fly to it's demise over and over and over again." So the time loop the ghosts are in encompasses all of history. Or, rather, they're outside the timelines.

Despite this, they could communicate via radio waves. When contact was made, they reported to be "childlike" and fond of games.

Maggie Adler and Anna Shea tried to contact the ghosts in 1952, and in doing so opened the gate. The critical insight was that waves can link alternate realities, alternate timelines. Anna was lost when this happened: roughly, the ghosts accidentally discovered that they could replace the "essence" of someone, possessing them. But do it too quickly and you get whatever happened to Anna. So they have to take their time, which works out to around dawn.

Around the previous spring, Michael drowned. Clarissa blames Alex for it.

Therefore, when Alex and company arrived on the island, things had already been going on for a while. In fact, the first session we see is implied to not be their first go-around.

This is complicated by the repeated timelines starting to influence each other. Like magnetic tapes wearing out or radio signals interfering with each other, the timelines start to bleed together. Which may be the source of the smaller loops: they're glimpses into alternate timelines. Alex remembers them, but most of the others don't.

This is somewhat significant, because the ghosts blame Alex for the time loops. What happened is never spelled out, but the implication is that on her first visit, she intentionally trapped herself in a loop. Maybe as a sacrifice to save her friends, or an attempt to correct a mistake.

Which brings us to the game. You should know the basic plot by now: the cave, saving Ren & Clarissa, finding the boat, going into the cave again...depending on the ending, it almost resolves the situation, but Alex is still stuck in the larger time loop.

As the night progresses, the cross-time mergings start creeping into the current timeline. The first sign is the armoire in the cave, but other pieces of furniture start appearing from the past. Deep in the time loops, reflections seem to permit conversation between different realities.

And, of course, after the end the loop begins again.

That's the basics.

Spoiler:

The exact resolution of the game depending on the ending you got. Not just the basics like whether Ren and Nona ended up dating, or if Alex and Jonas became close, but also if Clarissa gets erased from existence, if you're still friends afterwards, or if Michael never drowned. (Plus, Jonas can end up dating Nona.)

As Maggie Adler's letters make clear, she feels responsible for the whole thing: in 1943, she was the one who misidentified a distress call from the Kanaloa as enemy jamming, leading to the Kanaloa being sunk by friendly fire.

She also mentions dreaming about going back and trying to prevent Anna from coming to the island. Which is interesting, because as it turns out, every character experienced similar visit-the-past visions, mostly while being "possessed" by the ghosts. Alex saw Michael, Clarissa saw her sister, Jonas saw his dad.

IMAGE(http://images.akamai.steamusercontent.com/ugc/438361787842380983/231E5E5223484A89E9FA4D6B31EE604616FF5000/)
Memories and forgetting memories comes up a lot, both in the literal time-loops-seem-to-make-people-forget, and in the more general sense. Only Alex seems to have mostly clear memories of what's going on, from the time loops, and even then Nona remembers at least a few times she saw Alex when Alex doesn't remember seeing Nona. The island itself has been turned into a memorial, both overtly in being covered by forest preserves and historical markers, and more subtly as Maggie Adler engineered it as a kind of memorial to Anna and the Kanaloa.

IMAGE(http://images.akamai.steamusercontent.com/ugc/320123098198007557/4C6BB82EF3BD0900DCBD1F47D2CC46363B330AFD/)

There's a number of other motifs in the game: eternal recurrence, waves, the radio, submarines, dogs.

IMAGE(http://images.akamai.steamusercontent.com/ugc/438361787840509091/1AEDB8441C3C0669AFC95A9D982C9E0A55DC2ADC/)
There's "See a man about a dog" and so on...but also at one point, late in the night, Clarissa asks Nona what her dog's name is, with the implication that Clarissa doesn't remember...
IMAGE(http://images.akamai.steamusercontent.com/ugc/438361787840507012/4C14D0C81E5D0CD07EF00145207E83EA0CA8B5D9/)
...but in at least one of the endings, Clarissa doesn't get a dog until after they leave the island.

The anomalies add another layer of references: One mentions Bobby Dunbar and the memory of names. Another lists the names of sunken ships: Baychimo, Thresher, Peterhoff, Arizona. There's also some suicides and deaths connected to the island: the influence of the ghosts? One refers to an abbot: a connection to the mission? One is Alex. The most interesting one, from the viewpoint of alternate timelines, is a tour guide recording from a very different look at history. A glimpse from another reality? The ghosts messing with things?

Some of the radio stations you and tune in on the island have morse code messages.

The endings leave some loose threads. The ghosts are very adamant that you can't change the past...but then what about Michael? There seem to be traces of Anna...those no sign of her in the present? What's the significance of Jonas's mother's song? The eternal recurrence seems to be wrapped up in this: the idea that all of time repeats over and over with slight variations.

Then, of course, there's the NG+...

Spoiler:

...which implies that there may be a way to break out of the loop.

(If Alex succeeds in preventing herself from coming to the island, what does that do to the time loop?)

The first thing that you'll notice in the continued timeline is that there are more glitches, more interference, more bits that skip. (Which is both handy and unsettling.) This is a later iteration, maybe much later.

One question is whether Alex is experiencing this as one repeated time loop, or if infinite, alternate Alexs are simultaneously trapped in the loop. What with everyone involved having memory issues--including the ghosts--there may be no way to know.

The highlight of this was the cast of characters and the way the dialog was handled. There were definitely times you had more time than others to pick a choice. I missed a couple I wanted, partly because I wanted to make sure I picked the one I felt was right and was just too slow.

Some of the events that happened were a bit annoying to me, especially when I just wanted to get somewhere to see the next bit of the story. I also felt some of the traveling was a bit tedious, but the map wasn't that big. Damn I got tired of that radio dial.

The thing that happens during the credits was quite cool.

I don't know if anybody but me is interested in a physical release for this, but Limited Run Games is making a small batch available at 10am/6pm EST tomorrow (Friday, January 27): https://www.limitedrungames.com/prod...

Aqua Kitty DX going on sale at the same time too, in the very unlikely event that both games really tickle your fancy.

I picked this up for free on Xbox. Not half way through and I'm already thinking game of the year. I love it. But I'm sat here thinking god was there anything I could have done to

Spoiler:

save Clarissa? Is she even dead?

I have to stop playing because of work but...damn.

The answers to your first question is "no" - for the second question, you need to play to the end to find out or determine what happens to everyone.

I'd always intended to get this, but didn't get around to it until it was available free on GOG last week. I just played through it over the last few nights. I liked it! I really liked the dialog (even if I occasionally couldn't make the right choice in time or didn't like the way one choice cut off another bit), I thought the story was extremely creepy, and the characters well developed. The gameplay, such as it was, wasn't great...I was given interesting choices, but I found movement to be really frustrating, and over the last 90 minutes or so of the game, the distance between locations for travel was killing me. Still, I'll be really interested to see what this team does next. I hope it was a success for them.

Spoiler thoughts on the end:

Spoiler:

Frustrating thing--the game shows you little pie charts about your decisions at the end, which I like, but doesn't actually tell you what the other outcomes were! I was in the majority on all decisions it showed me (got Ren and Nona together, became close with Jonas, made up with Clarissa), but I'd be interested to see what other options were out there, especially re Clarissa.

I did NOT find all the letters. I understood the game was telling me I should go get them all before entering the bomb shelter, but given the speed of movement and my desire to be done with the game, I said eh,
screw it, let's just hope this is optional. Is there any way to avoid ending the game being stuck in a time loop?
Is that something that can only be done on NG+?

What was the significance of the advice mirror Alex gives you? I tried to follow it, so I didn't tell Michael what to do in his relationship with Clarissa and did not help Jonas speak to his dead mom. However, I think the third mirror instruction had to do with telling Michael what to do after graduation (at least that's what it was when I was playing the other end of the interaction later) and I missed that at the time--I'd been confused and thought mirror me was still talking about Clarissa. Does it make a difference? What happens if you let Jonas speak to his mom?

Neat game, overall. Genuinely creepy, good voice acting and writing. Definitely not going to spend any time on NG+, but I enjoyed my time with it.

Yes to the loop thing...sort of. I really enjoyed the game as well.

The mirror thing...

Spoiler:

I don't know how it works on GOG. But when I played this on Steam, the advice from "Mirror Alex" came from someone else who had played the game previously. By my second play through I had found this out and noticed the Steam name appeared in the mirror (and they were all from my friends list). So when you give the advice you are potentially passing it on to another future player.

Next from the Oxenfree devs is a game in which you try to outdrink Satan.

Awesome.

IMAGE(https://i.imgur.com/ooWyBee.gif)

All the monies! That looks effin rad.

OK, so Amoebic just appeared in my mirror...

Sequel just announced.

trueheart78 wrote:

Sequel just announced.

HELL YES