I came to the party because I heard the teens talk good. I’m confirming that rumor right off the bat; yeah, the kids sure do talk good and man, they talk a lot.
Oxenfree is a 2D ghost story inspired by 80’s teen films. There’s a shit ton of WASDing, all done at an annoyingly slow pace that discouraged me from fully exploring the map (which rarely yielded fruit from such diversions anyway), and the puzzle-solving is never more challenging than turning a radio dial.
Gameplay mechanics aren’t what you come to Oxenfree for, though. More than most others, the characters of Oxenfree are fully drawn through pithy dialogue that flows naturally. These conversations occur at a steady pace inside of a beautifully realized 2D world. Your little feet can’t walk fast enough for my tastes, but the conversations were scripted to unfold in just the right amount of time, lessening this particular annoyance by giving me reason to loiter when I finally reached my journey’s end.
The central mystery was at times obfuscated by the voice acting -- those ghosts need to enunciate, okay? Be kind to yourself and turn on subtitles because otherwise, you won’t hear what they say and since the ghosts are the primary vehicle through which the plot is delivered, you’ll only know, mmm, 70% of what’s going on without understanding them.
In a year that sucked, I’m glad I closed it out by spending a few hours with a group of my buddies on a haunted island.
But should I play it?Do you dig 80’s inspired teen flicks? You’ll probably get something out of Oxenfree.