I have fond memories of yelling “Olly olly oxen free!” as a child. After all, that phrase meant it was safe to come out of hiding without fear of being penalized while playing hide-and-seek. It was also shouted by Newman before he jumped into the pool (and onto the pool boy) in a season seven episode of Seinfeld (the internet has failed me in that I can’t find the clip on YouTube, but that’s neither here nor there).
Night School Studios’ first game, Oxenfree, borrows its name from the popular childhood saying. Oxenfree is set on a fictional island in America’s Pacific Northwest. The player controls Alex as she tries to survive a party gone horribly wrong – after all, what is a party without psychological torment dealt by an unknown force? – on the secluded island. The game is actually inspired by little-known events of World War II, such as the Japanese submarine bombing of an Oregon baseball field.
Related reading: My opinion on another psychological horror game for Xbox One, Layers of Fear.
Despite Oxenfree being the first game from Night School Studios, it’s got some weight behind it: the studio employs people previously from Disney and Telltale, and some of the voice talent have resumes including titles such as The Wolf Among Us. The Telltale background is evident in the game’s design, which boasts an intelligent conversation system that changes the story and Alex’s relationships based on each decision. Night School Studios promises a game filled with wonder, danger, and humour.
Oxenfree will be a Microsoft exclusive (at least for awhile) when it is released for PC and Xbox One in January 2016. A firm date is expected in the near future.
– Lindsay M.
A @DigitallyDownld poll: Do you enjoy psychological horror games?
— Lindsay M. (@itslindsay613) November 18, 2015