OXENFREE: A Thrilling Tale Rooted in the PNW

Five characters. Many ghosts. One island. Is leave possible? 

OXENFREE follows the main character, Alex, and her friends as they get caught up in some trouble on an island with supernatural history. Her friend, Ren, her new stepbrother, Jonas, and her acquaintances, Nona and Clarissa, gather after their graduation for some drinks and fun on a beach at Edwards Island — an old military base. However, the night quickly takes a turn for the worst when they open a ghostly rift — or rather, a gate to another world intertwined with the island’s past.

This game captured my attention for a multitude of reasons. From its character and worldbuilding art to its interesting plot, I was hooked. However, one aspect that is sure to bring in other gamers is its gameplay. The player plays as Alex, a rebellious and witty teen who tries to balance the relationships with those she’s around and the weight of her past. While uncovering the island’s mysterious and haunting past, the player makes choices throughout the game that determine which of the four possible endings you will experience. From who connects with who to who you save and who you leave with, your choices as Alex determine your ending. 

The “OXENFREE ARG Documentary,” published to YouTube in 2016, details some of the events to make the game and what came after, such as theories and fan revelations. To create Edwards Island, the creators at Night School Studio were inspired by Bainbridge Island here in Washington. In the documentary, it shows some fans during their journey on the ferry, something that we see as relevant to the game, as that is the very first scene. Andrew Rohrmann, the game’s soundtrack composer under the name of “scntfc,” confirms this inspiration roughly ten minutes into the video, saying that they picked Fort Ward, one of several US Army Coastal Artillery Corps installations, as their main source.
OXENFREE was released in January of 2015, but many fans still love it today. The game is available on Netflix, Stream, Playstation and more. If you enjoy this four-hour game, consider checking out the second game in this installment, OXENFREE II: Lost Signals.