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Video Game / Oxenfree

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The cover, showing off the real-time dialogue mechanic.

Oxenfree is an indie game by Night School Studio released on January 15th, 2016 for Windows, OS X, and Xbox One. A Playstation 4 version was released on May 31, 2016 and a Nintendo Switch version was released on October 6th, 2017.

Described as being both a supernatural thriller and a coming-of-age story, you play as the teenage Alex. Set one year after the death of her brother, Alex, her new step-brother Jonas, and her friends go to Edwards Island, an abandoned military base on the West Coast. While planning to have a night of simple partying, they instead get involved with the supernatural as they tune an old radio.

The Playstation 4 version came with a New Game Plus mode, which was patched onto the other platforms for free. This New Game Plus mode features new plotlines and endings.

You can see the first and second teaser here and here, respectively.

In April 2021, the sequel Oxenfree II: Lost Signals was announced, set five years after the events of the first game. At the time of this writing, the sequel is currently planned for a 2023 release.


  • The Ace: Michael is implied to have been this. Possible dialogue reveals that he was very popular in school and actually got some cops to buy him beer one time.
  • Affably Evil: The ghosts, particularly after possessing Clarissa, are rather friendly towards Alex.
  • Alone with the Psycho: Alex is trapped with the ghosts and forced to play a twisted scavenger hunt while in Maggie Adler's house and again when she goes into the dimensional rift to try and free Clarissa
  • Ambiguously Brown: Both Alex and her brother Michael have light brown skin, and from the flashbacks we see, naturally brown hair.
  • Anachronism Stew: The timeline of the nuclear submarine is way off. The game states the sub was sunk in 1943 while it was testing out its nuclear reactor. During the war, the only nuclear project going on in the United States was developing the atomic bomb. The bomb was completed in 1945 and used every bit of fissionable material in existence. Almost every top allied scientist was involved in the bomb’s development. The possibility that two years earlier the U.S. was creating nuclear reactors for submarines is ludicrous.
  • And I Must Scream: The ghosts are trapped, eternally, experiencing their deaths over and over. This is why they want to possess human bodies to escape. Alex, at least, doesn't remember the events when they repeat.
    • If the ghosts are to be believed, this is Alex's fate for setting her friends free and refusing to give up Clarissa - she is trapped in the loop, forced to relive the game's events for eternity.
  • Arc Symbol: Triangles.
  • Bittersweet Ending:
    • Though the crew of the Kanaloa are stopped, and Alex's friends manage to escape, Alex herself is implied to be trapped in the same dimension as the "ghosts," reliving the events on that island for eternity.
    • In the New Game Plus, Alex can convince her past self to get Ren to cancel the Edwards Island trip, preventing the game's events from happening and preventing Alex from getting trapped in the ghost dimension. However, Michael remains dead and Ren and Nona don't get together. And the ghosts imply that the playable Alex isn't overwritten by the Alex who doesn't go to the Island, meaning that some form of Alex will remain trapped in the ghost dimension for all eternity.
  • Brother–Sister Team: Alex and her stepbrother Jonas are the main focus of the narrative. If you bring Michael back to life then he replaces Jonas retroactively, making them an actual Brother–Sister Team.
  • But Thou Must!: You have to free the ghosts to leave the cave. If Alex attempts to return to the cave entrance with Jonas after finding him, she finds that the cave entrance caved in behind them. The only way out is through releasing the ghosts.
  • Cassandra Truth: Lampshaded. If Alex tells Nona that the cause of all the things happening on the island is ghosts, Nona first reacts skeptically, but Jonas backs Alex up and asks Nona to "skip to the believing us part."
  • Cell Phones Are Useless: Cell phones get no reception on the island.
  • Childhood Friends: Alex and Ren have been best friends since they were very young.
  • Collection Sidequest: Finding Adler's letters and the Anomalies.
  • Coming of Age Story: Described for one for Alex and her friends.
  • Continue Your Mission, Dammit!: If you take too long getting out the radio in certain moments, whichever character you're with (Usually Ren or Jonas) will get increasingly annoyed.
  • Deal with the Devil: The ghosts offer to leave Alex and her friends alone in exchange for Clarissa's body.
  • Death Is Cheap: It's possible to undo Michael's death.
  • Demonic Possession: The ghosts can gain control of human bodies.
  • Deserted Island: Takes place on Edwards Island, which houses a long-since abandoned military base.
  • Electromagnetic Ghosts: The ghosts interfere, and communicate, with radio waves.
  • Everyone Can See It: Ren isn't exactly inconspicuous about his crush on Nona. Even if you don't sell him out during truth or slap, talking to Nona and Clarissa afterwards reveals they both know anyway.
  • Everyone Knows Morse: Averted. You can occasionally find spots on the island with Morse code, but none of the characters translate it; it's left up to the player to figure out what they mean. They're Anna's messages from the ghost dimension to Maggie Adler and how she's stuck there.
  • Extremely Short Timespan: The game takes place over less than 12 hours.
  • Failure-to-Save Murder: Clarissa feels this way about Alex, believing that because Alex didn't prevent Michael from being drowned, she essentially killed him.
  • Fire-Forged Friends: Jonas and Alex, as well as Alex and Clarissa, can become this over the duration of the game's events.
  • Foreshadowing: More than once throughout the game, Alex gets caught in a loop where she's the only one who realizes it. One of the endings, and implied to be the case for the entire game, is that Alex is trapped in a loop on the island forever.
  • Friend or Foe?: The submarine sank due to friendly fire.
  • Gameplay and Story Integration: Alex (and by extension the player) recalling the events of the game is a key element of the New Game Plus mode.
  • The Ghost: Alex's parents get mentioned quite a bit, but they never actually see them.
  • Girls Love Stuffed Animals: Clarissa makes fun of Alex for a stuffed animal collection she has.
  • Government Conspiracy: Jonas theorizes that the island is the base for a government mind control experiment. He's partly right - the government IS involved, but not for the reason he suggests.
  • "Groundhog Day" Loop: It is implied in the ending that the whole game is in one.
  • Hell Gate: The island is full of them. They can be opened by tuning into the right radio frequencies.
  • Heroic Mime: There is an Achievement for playing through the whole game without saying a word.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: One ending consists of Alex trapping herself in the same dimension as the crew of the Kanaloa. Because of the "Groundhog Day" Loop of the ending, this is implied to have already happened before the game starts.
  • I Am Legion: The ghosts talk like this when they possess somebody and have difficulty holding onto their individuality.
  • Idiot Ball: Wandering into a dark cave right on a mysterious island wasn't the best choice Jonas ever made.
  • I'm Standing Right Here: Can be said verbatim if Ren makes a comment about PMS.
  • Interface Screw: In addition to the Ominous Visual Glitches that go on regularly throughout the game, there are moments when the environment is thrown upside-down and the controls are switched.
  • Jerkass: Clarissa, who seems to find it funny to point out the likelihood of divorce in the new step-family, and probing Alex as to why her parents got divorced. It's because her boyfriend is dead.
  • Jerkass Ball: Despite getting relatively well during the beginning of the game, Jonas comes to blame Ren for all the trouble with the ghosts. The two of them get into an argument, during which Alex can either agree to team up with either Jonas, Ren or Nona to travel to Maggie Adler's house for clues.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: You find out eventually that Clarissa is much nicer than she initially seems when Nona tells her how Clarissa went out of her way to celebrate Nona's birthday despite a recent tragedy. Her dislike of Alex comes from a personal and complicated place.
  • Keet: Ren talks a lot, is more effeminate than some of the girls and is very outgoing and loud.
  • Let's Split Up, Gang!: Instances where all five character are together in one place for any length of time are fleeting and usually end in either a "let's split up" moment or some supernatural chicanery tearing them all apart again.
  • Lotus-Eater Machine: Occasionally, when possessed, the characters experience moments from the past, related to somebody close to them.
  • Many Spirits Inside of One: Due to the sheer quantity of ghosts trying to inhabit five people, this is the result, essentially drowning out the original conscious.
  • Meaningful Name: Oxenfree is short for "olly olly oxen free", which is a catchphrase used during children's games. The ghosts themselves have the mentality of children due to being stuck in an alternate dimension for a long time and try to play games like hangman and I Spy with the protagonists as a means of tormenting them.
  • Mental Time Travel: What seems to happen to Alex when she's transported back to her time with Michael.
  • Missing Mom: Jonas' mother died prior to the events of the game.
  • Military Alphabet: Maggie Adler transmits clues to the location of her notes. The clues are spelled out using the NATO phonetic alphabet (though “Sierra” is consistently mispronounced as “Sienna”).
  • Morton's Fork: The two "perfect" endings exist on opposite ends of the fork. Alex can save Michael but be trapped in the time loop forever, or she can save (a version of) herself from the time loop, but Michael remains dead in that timeline. There is no third option where Alex escapes the loop with Michael alive as well.
  • Multiple Endings: The epilogue scene can play out in different ways depending on Alex's decisions and how she treats others.
  • My God, What Have I Done?: The ghosts appear to feel guilty when Alex is trapped in their dimension with them.
    • The whole driving force behind Maggie Adler's character - she was the direct cause of the deaths of those on the USS Kanaloa, and her ensuing journey to pacify them also lead to her close friend Anna's disappearance as well.
  • New Game Plus: The Play Station Four version (as well as the other platforms after the PS4 release) will include a mode that allows players to replay the game after beating it with Alex remembering what has happened in the previous playthrough. This mode will feature new locations and endings.
  • Nobody Poops: Jonas has to relieve himself early in the game, much to the annoyance of Alex.
  • Noodle Incident: Nona mentions a horrible hallucination involving Alex and Jonas talking about her grandfather, but she doesn't elaborate.
  • Notice This: Objects that can be interacted with have a white circle around them.
  • Ominous Visual Glitch: One of the most screwy and prominent features of the game. It's used to both illustrate the radio static and interference and the warping of time and space.
  • Our Ghosts Are Different: The ghosts encountered were transported into a different dimension, where time repeats. If the very last few moments of the ending mean anything, this includes Alex, too.
  • Posthumous Character: Maggie Adler, who is the direct cause for the events of the game.
  • Radio Voice: Occurs when the ghosts speak. Justified since they communicate through old radio frequencies.
  • Realistic Diction Is Unrealistic: Averted. The dialog is very natural and believable; while talking, characters will talk over each other, use the wrong word (or pronounce words incorrectly), stutter, trail off, etc. Played straight with the ghosts who while very cryptic are very articulate, though given their nature maybe they've had time to rehearse their lines à la talk show hosts and military radio operators.
  • Reality Warper: The ghosts.
  • Red Eyes, Take Warning: A sign that the ghosts have possessed someone.
  • Ripple-Effect-Proof Memory: Played With - Alex always has this during the time loops, but the other characters often comment on having deja vu or a vague inclination that they've done something already. Played straight if Alex chooses to sacrifice Clarissa to the ghosts - no one else remembers her.
  • Set Right What Once Went Wrong: The player can bring Michael back to life depending on the decisions they make in the flashbacks.
  • "Shaggy Dog" Story: Depending on one's interpretation of the endings, it's not out of the question to assume that Alex is stuck in a time-loop one way or another. In fact, she's been for an infinite amount of time already, and the "game" is just yet another loop in the series.
  • Shout-Out:
    • When Ren asks clarification about the island being haunted, he refers to elevators on their periods, a shout out to the elevators releasing a river of blood in The Shining.
    • Some of the achievements contain references to other works, such as:
  • Sinister Geometry: Glowing equilateral and isosceles triangles appear, unnatural and out of place, on the landscape, and catalyze interactions with the ghosts.
  • Spooky Photographs: The ghosts can be seen in some of the photographs taken by the characters.
  • The Stoner: Ren. He brings what is implied to be pot brownies to the island, which he cheerfully consumes. He also mentions a story that involved him being high on cough medicine.
  • They Died Because of You: Clarissa's resentment of Alex stems from the fact that Clarissa blames Alex for Michael's death.
  • Terms of Endangerment: The ghosts occasionally refer to the protagonists as "dolls", and calling them adorable, as they possess their bodies and play dangerous games.
  • Title Drop: Played With. At one point, the ghosts say "All the out's in free," which is an older version of the phrase "Olly Oxenfree."
  • Time Travel: When Alex experiences flashbacks, she is actually being transported through time, and can change past events.
  • Town with a Dark Secret: Or, island with a dark secret.
  • True Companions: The main characters can become this, depending on how you play the game.
  • Unfortunate Names: Hardin Tower is named after one Richard "Dick" Hardin. And yes, he really did go by the name "Dick Hardin." Jonas has a field day when he finds out.
  • Un-person: Should you choose to sacrifice Clarissa, no one but Alex will remember her.
  • Unwitting Instigator of Doom: The ghosts tell Alex that she is this, and they are right - Alex tuning into the frequency in the cave unleashed the ghosts and allowed them to begin messing with her friends. Maggie Adler also counts, both for indirectly causing the deaths of the crew members of the Kanaloa and for trying to appease them.
  • Video Game Cruelty Potential:
    • During the game of Truth-or-Slap, Alex can force Ren to confess his crush to Nona, and then gleefully slap him in the face.
    • After being offered the deal, Alex may choose to sacrifice Clarissa to the ghosts in exchange for their lives.
  • Video Game Cruelty Punishment: It's only implied, but even if Alex sacrifices Clarissa, she may very well be trapped in a time loop anyway, aiming Laser-Guided Karma right at her.
  • Walk and Talk: Most of the conversations in the game are this since the game doesn't take away the player's control during dialogue.
  • "Where Are They Now?" Epilogue: The game ends with Alex describing what her friends are doing after the events of the game.
  • Wild Teen Party: Implied. The reason why only five people went to the island was because most of their friends got into trouble after throwing a wild party a few days before.
  • World of Snark: It's to be expected when the characters are teenagers.