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Chris Kavan's Video Game Reviews (494)

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A Hat in Time 3.5/5
Sunset Overdrive 4/5
The Vagrant 4/5
Honkai: Star Rail 3.5/5
MechWarrior 5: Mercenar... 4/5
Rage 2 3.5/5
Alan Wake 4/5
Riverbond 3.5/5
Dead Island 2 3.5/5
Saints Row IV 3.5/5
The Last of Us Part II 4.5/5
Torchlight III 3/5
Wolfenstein II: The New... 4/5
Ghost of Tsushima 4.5/5
Battletoads (2020) 2/5
Danganronpa: Trigger Ha... 4/5
Override: Mech City Bra... 3/5
Maneater 3/5
Door Kickers: Action Sq... 4/5
Spider-Man (2018) 4.5/5
Red Dead Redemption 2 4.5/5
Boot Hill Heroes 3.5/5
Control 4/5
Victor Vran 3/5
Katamari Damacy REROLL 4/5

Next 25

Oxenfree   PC (Steam) 

Tune In, Turn On - Far Out    4/5 stars

Games don't always have to be huge to make an impact. Case in point, Oxenfree, created by the independent studio Night School - made up of both former Telltale and Disney employees - who turned this game into a hand-crafted, unique adventure. Each piece comes together - art, music, acting and story - to form a tale unlike anything else out there and proves that you don't have to rely on a multi-million dollar budget to inspire a sense of dread and wonder while keeping you fully entertained.

Presentation: Oxenfree is a beautiful game to look at and to listen to. It employs a 2.5d presentation - with characters being 3D with static 2D background. There is very light platforming, though this is in the form of jumping over gaps, rather than a more traditional interpretation. The game employs a watercolor aesthetic and it really stands out compared to most retro adventure games, which go the pixelated route. The colors pop - be it the clothes characters wear, or the backgrounds which include everything from an abandoned military base to dank caverns to forested areas.

Sound is excellent all around: the game employs a synth soundtrack composed by Andrew Rohrmann (aka scntfc) that has an 80s vibe to it, and it meshes incredibly well with the setting. Because a hand-held radio plays an important part in the game, you can also pick up snippets of old-timey music here and there, and tape recorders also provide additional musical support. On the other side of things, the voice acting is top-notch - and even sports some veteran voice actors, including Erin Yvette (as the main character, Alex), Britanni Johnson and Gavin Hammon - with Aaron Kuban and Avital Ash rounding out the main cast. Each of the main characters gives a unique voice - Ash is the bitchy girl, Johnson is the quiet nerd, Kuban the stoner best friend and Hammon the solid brother. Yvette takes on the biggest role and gives nuance to Alex - who can be supportive or dismissive, helpful or mean - all depending on how you play things. This is a dialogue-heavy game, and the cast really does give it their all. Plus, the game never flaked out on me at any time - no bugs whatsoever.

Story: Alex is taking a trip to Edwards Island with her stoner friend Ren and new step-brother Jonas. The trip is considered a rite of passage for the junior class, where drinking and fun can be had at the nearly-empty island. However, with most of the class already recovering from a previous party, the only other two classmates they meet are Clarissa, who once dated Alex's brother, Michael, before his death and Nona, who Ren has a not-so-secret crush on. Shortly after arriving, Ren directs the group to cave where he has Alex bring out the short-wave radio as requested - hoping to catch a mysterious signal said to come from within. But Alex tunes in to more than just some strange noise - she actually opens up a dimensional rift - one that scatters the group across the island and messes with time. Alex must navigate the island in order to save her friends while trying to uncover the secret behind the rift, even as sinister forces dog her every step.

Gameplay: As an adventure game, you will primarily be walking about Edward's Island. Unlike a traditional adventure game that might give you text box with various choices, Oxenfree employs thought bubbles that coincide with the main controller buttons - which you can hit at any time, even interrupting conversations. Or you can hit nothing at all and stay silent while those around you speak. Options can have an effect on other characters - both in making them like you more, or the opposite. This, in turn, affects the outcome of the game and which ending you ultimately wind up with.

The game features several different areas to navigate - with some light jumping and climbing involved here and there - though you can never die. You always carry a radio and this is an important element of the game, allowing you to tune in to the supernatural elements, and, later, even open certain doors. The game features a few collectibles, including letters that affect the outcome of the game as well. Most of the game, however, is your interactions with your friends and even family - and because there is a time element involved, you can even change the outcome of certain events to radically alter your past, present and future. The game is not horror, but it does have horror elements and the overall story is quite effective in the chills department. Likewise, it manages to throw a few twists at you that really make an impact, and provide incentive to check out a few different endings depending on how you play things.

Replayability: Oxenfree has a few options for how the game ends, plus some collectibles scattered about. While the overall story may not change all that much, at least it gives you few reasons to return to this strange tale.

Overall: Oxenfree is a fantastic adventure game, full of great characters, an interesting story and an amazing synth soundtrack. While it's short, it still provides plenty of impact and is good for at least a go or two.

Presentation: 4/5
Story: 5/5
Gameplay: 4/5
Replayability: 3/5
Overall (not an average): 4/5



Recent Comments
Comment On Review

Nelson Schneider

Nelson Schneider- wrote on 06/09/19 at 03:30 PM CT


Good write up. It almost makes me want to pull this game out of the Dump Truck and put it on the Backburner instead.

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