When you’re fully immersed in a story, you hang on your favorite character’s every word. Whatever they say will show how they’re feeling, how connected they are – or want to be – to the person they’re talking to. You’ll know what they want, what they need, once they speak.

OXENFREE¬†follows Alex and her friends as they party and fight to survive on a deserted island.¬†There’s instant friction between characters. Snarky comments and awkward exchanges hint at the grief, regret and romantic tension between them. As Alex, you want to withdraw, but you’re pushed to talk with them, and your dialogue controls what happens next.

Characters speak in bubbles, and Alex chooses her responses. You can be snarky or reserved. You can be compassionate, even when they are angry. Relationships evolve through the game, based on the connection Alex and they have formed.

Sometimes Alex says something that pushes her friends away or misses the moment they shared something, and you can feel them withdraw. Much like BELOW, the distant POV adds to the isolation Alex feels.

Alex discovers clues about the island’s true history from a radio. Tuning between ghostly static and unnerving broadcasts is addictive and unique to OXENFREE.

Edwards Island gets odder as the night goes on. The island and characters glitch. It’s clear something supernatural is threatening them. It’s less clear if Alex and the others will escape it.

OXENFREE is beautifully rendered, and haunting to play. It is exceptional because Alex and her friends change through the story. What you want, what you need to survive, will show in what you say next.