Night School Studio’s first game, Oxenfree, just released, and our team is beyond thrilled to share the story of Edwards Island with the world. We set out to build a variety of new gameplay and storytelling mechanics that would let players live their own coming of age tale, all set in a supernatural thriller. The core idea: build a narrative game without cut scenes, giving players full freedom to adventure and communicate with friends while never taking control from them.
What starts out as a fun night of partying on the beach with friends quickly devolves into psychological terror. You play as Alex, a bright teenaged girl who is meeting her new step-brother Jonas for the first time, and bringing him to a beach party on an abandoned military island. Alex’s best friend, Ren, is along for the night to try and get in good with his crush Nona. Nona is somewhat indifferent to Ren, but loyal to her pal Clarissa, who just seems annoyed being there.
These dynamics might seem pretty benign on the surface, and that’s intentional. We wanted the relationships of the cast to feel as naturalistic as possible during the early parts of the game, to draw players in to what feels like a teen adventure comedy. Arguments and jokes flow freely around the campfire, all reacting to the player and dynamically building the foundation for rest of the game. All of the characters react and evolve not only based on player decisions, but what other NPCs say and do. But the rug gets pulled from beneath Alex and friends quickly, as they unwittingly open a ghostly rift with an old radio.
Suddenly the game is about finding your friends, saving their souls, and closing the rift you accidentally created. These are the moments we’re so excited about people experiencing, as we’ve been pretty tight-lipped about the narrative so far. What I can say is that supernatural beings in the game push and pull at your perception of reality, the weaknesses of your friends, and the fabric of time and space.
This all might sound pretty creepy and weird. That’s because it is! We really can’t wait for the world to play the game, as everyone’s Alex will feel different. It’s up to you how to save the world, if you can save it at all.
Oxenfree is available now for Xbox One and will be coming soon to Windows 10.