Oxenfree: Review

Oxenfree Review

Oxenfree is a 2.5D supernatural adventure, developed by Night School Studio in 2016. The premise, you ask? Well, the game is set on an abandoned island, where the main character Alex has travelled to for a party. Y’know, like all teenagers do. However, strange things start happening, and it is your task to solve the mystery!

Gameplay

The main gameplay consists of the choices you make as Alex, which can affect the entire game. Another large aspect of the gameplay is the puzzles you solve with Alex’s radio, which are done by tuning it to the correct frequency. What’s more, instead of long cut-scenes, Oxenfree incorporates use of speech bubbles popping up over character’s heads, which we prefer.

There are multiple endings too, which is a nice addition, and definitely emphasises the importance of all of your choices. Multiple endings make everything better (or worse)!

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One annoying thing with the gameplay is the vague choices you’re given when responding to things. For example, someone will say something, and you’ll pick a response, and it will end up way different to what it looked like! This can spit out loads of unintended consequences, especially because of Oxenfree’s multiple ending system.

Graphics

The graphics of the game are lovely. The characters are 3D models set against a 2.5D background, which adds a nice sense of depth to the game. What’s more, after each chapter, you get a Polaroid photo, which gives you a more detailed look at the characters. However, when you look a bit closer, these polaroids make the game a lot more sinister…

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We have no complaints about the graphics here! They’re pretty fantastic, and we love the 2.5D effect.

Music/Sound FX

The voice acting is one of the greatest things in the game. The characters feel real, and the dialogue can be pretty funny!

The soundtrack to the game is incredible, and extremely atmospheric. The sound FX are fantastic too, from the static of the radio to the creepy noises in the background! All of these little effects definitely enhance your gameplay, making it a much more enjoyable experience. What’s more, the soundtrack is available on Steam as DLC too, which is pretty neat!

One criticism we have with the noises and effects is the volume they’re set at. For example, sometimes, the music will get really loud, which is annoyingly obstructive to your gameplay. As well as that, in loading screens, the volume drops way down, when really it should stay the same volume all the way.

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In conclusion, we really like this game. It is an amazing experience, and would definitely recommend it if you are into puzzling, atmospheric stories!

N++: Review

If you’re a big fan of platforming games, then you will definitely have heard of the “N” franchise, a game series that revolutionized platform gaming. N++ is the third and final instalment to the award-winning series, and is definitely the hardest. So, is it worth your money? Read on and find out!

You start off, as many platform games do, with a level selection screen. What’s new in N++ is that instead of having one big expanse of levels, you have 3 different sections: Intro, N++, and Legacy. Each of the sections consists of several different chapters, with each one containing 5 different levels. Each episode’s levels range in difficulty, going from easiest to hardest, making each chapter unique.

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But what makes N++ different to its predecessors? Well, the biggest difference, apart from the lovely new design, is really is the huge amount of levels that come with it, as it features 2360 levels. Yeah. And that’s without factoring in the online levels, of which there are thousands!

What’s more, Metanet have made sure that not all its levels are the same things over and over again, as they consistently find different ways to have you play, be that introducing a new enemy, or even just with the layout of the level.

As well as that, each level has a name, most of which are funny! For example, one of our personal favourite levels, “Intro to accepting your limitations?”, is a room filled with gold. Not too hard, right? However, as you try and collect all this gold, you realise that the ones placed in the middle of the ceiling require some precisely timed jumps to acquire.

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This level took us ages…

Gameplay

Gameplay. The most important part of every game, and pretty much determines how good it really is. So how good is N++’s gameplay? We think, pretty good.

Of course, there’s only so much you can do to make a platform game’s controls the best they can be, because, let’s be honest, they’re mostly the same every time. N++’s controls are pretty standard: left, right, and jump. No sprinting, no crouching, and no special powers, which is what makes it such a tough game. It all depends upon the skill of the player. And the durability of your controller.

N++ comes with 3 different game-modes: Solo, Co-op, and Race, with each section containing tons of levels to play. So, what do you do in each of these game-modes? Good question! Here’s an even better answer.

“Solo” is the game-mode for most platform games, where, you guessed it, you play by yourself!

“Co-op” is also pretty self-explanatory. You play with up to four of your friends in local multiplayer! Of course, if you have any…

“Race” is the game-mode very similar to co-op, except instead of working with your friends, you’re racing against them!

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Of course, there are a few little tricks you can do. For example, more experienced players will be using what’s known as “corner jumping” to enhance their gameplay, and even skip parts of levels with it! If you hadn’t already figured it out, corner jumping is where you jump off the corner of a block. You didn’t really need an explanation. It’s not too hard to do, and only requires a little bit of practice, but it can make beating levels a lot easier, and is incredibly useful whilst speed running.

Another little technique is slope jumping. Yeah, we just made that name up then and there, but it pretty much describes what you’re doing! Sometimes, levels will have a slope in them, which the player will use to launch themselves off and over some kind of death inducing obstacle. By running and jumping up that slope, you’ll gain an incredible amount of speed, and you will fly across the gap!

Our main criticism with the gameplay is the restarting aspect of it. For example, if you’re halfway through an episode, and then quit, reloading it doesn’t place you back into the level you left from. Nope, you’ve got to replay the entire episode again, which becomes incredibly frustrating when you’re playing some of the much harder episodes, such as those in the legacy section.

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What’s more, another criticism we have is the progression aspect. Currently, in both versions of N++, you have to beat an episode level by level. This can really slow down your gameplay, especially with the really tough levels, as it can take you ages to complete. Of course, you can always move onto the next chapter and play in that section. Maybe it’s just us, but it’s much more preferable to beat the levels in a linear fashion!

Graphics

Interesting levels and fluid gameplay is all well and good, but how does it look? In N++’s case, pretty damn great! Metanet chose to use vector shapes and a flat UI to create a clean, sharp environment for their little stick figure to leap around in, and with over 8000 colours and 50 colour combinations, the levels look even more fantastic.

But it’s not just the flat shapes that look awesome: it’s the animations too. The fantastically fluid effects look lovely set against the minimalistic design, and it really shows you how much time and effort the devs put into making this game perfect.

We absolutely love the colours and art of N++, and honestly have no criticisms. They’re brilliant.

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Music

Ok, we’ve got some neat graphics, well designed levels, and smooth gameplay, but what about the music? Does N++ lay down some sick beats to run and jump to? The short answer: Yes. Definitely. Absolutely! Featuring just over 40 artists, N++ has a great soundtrack to run, jump, and explode to, and will have your blood pumping as fast as your stick figure is moving!

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Rival Consoles’ “I Left The Party” is our favourite!

Of course, there’s always room for improvement, and for N++’s soundtrack, one of the things we’d like to see improved upon is just the overall feel of many of the songs. We have no problems with how they sound, not at all, just that when you’re sprinting through obstacles, you don’t want slow music to go along with it. Although the songs do pick up their pace, it would be great to see some more super-fast music with it, such as some of F-777’s tracks.

Apart from that, we’re fans of the soundtrack, and would love to see a digital/hard copy of it!

Online Features

Beaten all of Metanet’s pre made levels? Well, pop over to the online levels section, and browse some of those! There are some incredibly tough levels on there, so you’ll definitely be provided with a challenge!

But how did people make those? Why, the level editor of course! The level editor in N++ takes a little while to get used to, especially on console, since so many buttons do different things! However, once you master it, you’ll be creating and sharing awesome levels in no time.

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Unfortunately however, the level editor does have a few flaws. For example, the biggest, most annoying flaw, is the fact that you don’t need to verify levels before they’re uploaded. So, essentially, you could upload an impossible level. This can be pretty annoying, as we don’t want the online levels to be filled with a load of unbeatable ones.

 

Conclusion

In conclusion, we are huge fans of this game, and the franchise as a whole. We love the graphics, the music, and the gameplay in general, and would strongly recommend N++ to anyone looking for a challenging solo platformer, or some friendship testing local multi-player!

 

 

Want to check out the game yourself? No problem! Go here to buy it on steam, or go here to buy it on PS4. Oh, and if you’re interested in some more of N++’s art style, just visit their Tumblr, here! It’s filled to the brim with development graphics, early design ideas, and some awesome gifs!

Terraria VS Minecraft: Graphics

Graphics are extremely important to games. They’re the first thing you see, and can often shape your entire opinion of what you’re about to play. So what are the graphics like on these two games? Time to find out!

In both Minecraft and Terraria, the graphics are pretty similar. Pixelated. However, when playing Minecraft, it feels like I’m playing in higher definition. Everything looks pretty awesome, and with mods such as shaders, a boring empty desert can become an oasis of sandy delight! As well as that, the pixels look sharper, which makes the game feel modern and unique. Minecraft suddenly becomes much more enjoyable!

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In Terraria, this isn’t the case. Like Minecraft, it’s pixelated, but the fact that it’s 2D makes the game feel like it’s jumped out from the past. I mean, I’m a huge fan of pixel graphics, and if a blast from the past is what Re-Logic was going for, then great! Awesome! But if they were going for a modern vibe like Minecraft, I don’t think they’ve quite achieved that.

Another issue I have with Terraria’s graphics is in the PS Vita version when you pick something up in your inventory. Whilst dragging it across the screen, the item is shown bigger, so you can see it from behind your finger. The re-sized item is shown in HD quality, and I have absolutely no complaints there! I love HD, it’s the best. The thing I have a problem with is when you drag stacks of items across the screen. The block is shown in larger, HD quality, but the number immediately goes blurry. Up close, that font is ugly. And making it blurrier definitely doesn’t do it any favours.

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One of the only complaints I have about Minecraft graphics comes in the form of item art. As you almost definitely know, every item in Minecraft is represented by it’s little pixel art sprite thing. That’s great and all, but aside from all the block art, I just don’t think they made all the effort they could’ve, especially for items. All the art for the items and blocks whilst in the inventory look pretty basic, and I doubt it’s that hard to re-create! Obviously Mojang spent ages on their game, and the programming is great, but if you’re going to put so much effort into the code behind it, why not put just as much effort into the art?

But where Minecraft falls, Terraria rises up, like a phoenix from the pixelated ashes! There are 3646 different items in Terraria, and one poor design team had to make a tiny graphic for each one. Each item is incredibly detailed, and looks amazing both in and out of the inventory.

Unfortunately for Terraria however, it looks like Minecraft has won in this category. Their graphics are superior, and no matter how hard Re-Logic tries, they’ll never be able to make 2D graphics more impressive than the 3D art of Minecraft.

 

If you missed the previous Terraria VS Minecraft, where we discuss and compare the gameplay in each game, you can find that article here!