3. Story walkthrough
Let's talk about the characters in the game since many of the achievements are based on how you treat them.
Jonas is Alex's brand new step-brother. Alex's mom recently married Jonas's dad and this trip is the two teenagers' chance to get to know each other.
Ren is Alex's good friend. He more or less put this group and trip together.
Michael is Alex's brother. You'll only see him a a little bit toward the end of the story.
Clarissa was Michael's girlfriend. She's bitter towards Alex for something I'll leave for you to find out.
Nona is Clarissa's friend. Ren has a crush on her.
Now for how these characters fit into the three playthroughs you'll need to carry out...
6 of the 13 achievements deal with how you play through the story as a whole. Any way you divide them, you'll need three playthroughs to get them all. Some achievements are possible in multiple playthrough types and others are limited to only one of the three. You can choose the order. Remember that you'll also need to pick which one will be your collectibles playthrough.
First, you'll need a "friendly" playthrough. In my opinion, it makes for the best story.
- Always pick the kindest dialogue options.
- Being kind to Jonas is particularly important. Keep him at your side when given the option.
- Say nice things about Ren to Nona and nice things about Nona to Ren. Leave them together when the group splits up.
- Don't accept the major proposition late in the game (I'll point this out when we get there).
- Keep everyone alive (Only one character can be lost and I'll point out where this is as well).
Second is the "mean" playthrough. This one is the funniest.
- Always pick the rude or "I don't care" dialogue options, shift blame onto others, and refuse to help them.
- Drive Ren and Nora away from each other.
- Accept the proposition late in the game.
- You still need to keep everyone alive. They can't hate you if they're dead.
Third is the silent playthrough. This one is quite boring, unfortunately.
- Don't say anything. Wait for all dialogue options to expire. Never press , , or (the three dialogue options).
- It is always safe to press to interact with objects and characters, even though it often causes Alex to speak.
- The very final choice in the game, which comes after the final stats are presented to you, will never fade. This is the only case where you are forced to say something, but you'll still get the achievement.
I'll outline more important details as we go through the story, but here are the achievements we're dealing with:
Unlocked by 11,854 tracked gamers (50% - TA Ratio = 1.41)
This one's unlocked in the friendly playthrough. You don't need to be perfect and seize every single chance the game gives you to bring them closer together, but there are several moments that matter.
Unlocked by 7,790 tracked gamers (33% - TA Ratio = 1.74)
This is easy. It can be unlocked in the mean playthrough or the silent playthrough. That's right... not saying anything is enough.
Unlocked by 13,070 tracked gamers (55% - TA Ratio = 1.34)
You'll get this in the friendly playthrough. Most of your time is spent with Jonas so there are plenty of chances to be kind to him.
This one's a bit of spoiler so I'll keep it in this tag.
Unlocked by 3,559 tracked gamers (15% - TA Ratio = 2.58)
Pay attention to the crucial moments I point out to unlock this in the mean playthrough. The difference between kind and rude responses is typically clear from the text in the pop-up boxes and even more so when you hear the tone of Alex's voice right after selecting one.
Unlocked by 3,888 tracked gamers (16% - TA Ratio = 2.47)
Unlock this at the end of the silent playthrough.
I'm certain that the way I split these up works, so if you're worried about your plan, here's a suggestion:
1st = friendly: Matchmaker + New Beginnings
2nd = mean: I'm the Firestarter + You'd Just End Up Hating Each Other
3rd = silent: The Strong, Silent Type + Thicker Than Water
Now for the story itself. I'll be outlining the entire game as if you were planning to catch every collectible along the way. If you aren't, simply ignore the italicized text. I'll also put the important dialogue segments in bold and marked with *** so you know when to be extra careful. If, at any point, you make a mistake with the dialogue options, quickly quit the game to get back to the main menu and when you continue, you'll be back at the start of the current area for another try. I encourage you to explore and interact with things as we go. Finally, remember that I have screenshots of all collectibles on the next page.
Let's get to it!
Part 1 - Arriving at the Island
You start out on a ferry with Jonas and Ren. Here, you have some time to acquaint yourself with how the game works. White circles appear over items you can interact with (remember that doing so often interrupts the dialogue). Three dialogue options appear when it's your turn to talk. They fade quickly sometimes so stay focused.
Almost right away, you'll see that some of your dialogue options are affecting Jonas, which is indicated by your head appearing in a thought bubble above his head. Unfortunately, this won't let you know if the person likes or dislikes what you said, but that's usually obvious. Walk around the ship a while, enjoy the conversation and music, and then move to the end of the boat when Ren wants to take a picture.
Now you'll be prompted to pull out the radio, which you'll be using a lot, with . With the right stick, tune to the frequency Ren gives you.
Soon after you arrive at the dock, Jonas will ask to chat with you alone. Accept if you're trying to be nice to him and refuse if not. Either way, follow Ren once you're done. You'll need to push the dumpster up against the fence at the top of this area to proceed.
In the next area, you'll meet up with the rest of the crew and find out that everyone is crazy good at climbing up and down cliffsides for some reason. Use the left stick when you need to climb one. Hit to climb and jump when other obstacles are in your path. The game never lets you fall so don't worry about that. If you want to hear out the conversation to its end, don't leave the area until it's over. Same goes for the rest of the game.
***Next is the beach, where you'll be able to get the first achievement as long as you aren't in your silent playthrough. When the group starts talking about Truth or Slap, make sure you take part. As soon as the game starts, Clarissa asks Ren if he likes Nona. When you're able, say "He's lying!" and then "He told me he liked her!". Lastly, choose "Yay!" and then walk up to him and slap him. Although this is rude, it won't hinder a nice playthrough and you can still get Ren and Nona together later as well.
Unlocked by 12,668 tracked gamers (53% - TA Ratio = 1.36)
***After the game, make sure you go talk with Nona and tell her nice things about Ren if you're being friendly. Then jump over the fence with the guys when you're ready. Notice the rock piles here. One of the types of collectibles in the game are cairns like these, but smaller. The three here aren't collectibles, but you'll be using them in the same fashion. When Ren mentions it, pull out your radio and search for the activation signal. Turn the dial fairly slowly or else you might miss it. You'll know you're there when you hear static and see the dial flash/glow red faintly. In this case, you'll also see a light flicker in the cave. This is where the fun begins. Continue with the other two formations and then follow Jonas.
Navigate through the cave to catch up to Jonas and then keep going right. When Jonas asks you to, tune into the three signals and enjoy the show while you're at it. I recommend turning on the subtitles at this point because it can be tough to sort out what's being said here and in later encounters.
After the madness, follow Jonas upward until you're at the very top of the tower. If you try to open the door Jonas will eventually open it for you. You can also climb into the room through the back window. Once you're in the room, use the generator. When the phone rings, answer it and then switch to the other line when it rings again. At this point, you have a choice to make: find Ren or find Clarissa. In my experience, it doesn't make a big difference which you choose. I went for Ren first in all three playthroughs, which is what we'll do here, but you can go to Clarissa first if you're trying to be silent or mean because Ren's upset when he's not first. In either case, you'll be traveling in a circle to pick them both up so you'll be hitting the same areas and collectibles. Speaking of collectibles, we'll start keeping an eye out for the first type now.
Once you pass through the de-electrified electric fence, head left to the Towhee Woods for Ren or right to Milner Outpost for Clarissa. We'll go left.
Part 2 - Finding Ren
In the Towhee Woods, continue to a point where you can climb down to the level below, but don't do it. Instead, move toward the huge gap farther left and jump it to get the next achievement with a classic reference for a name.
Unlocked by 19,820 tracked gamers (83% - TA Ratio = 1.09)
Head left, but before you exit the area, climb down and you'll see an anomaly (the game's name for the small rock formations) below. You need to stand next to it and tune the radio as before to activate it. Tune it to the station 103.5 to unlock the anomaly. These will be in the parenthesis for reference. (103.5 Anomaly 1/12). Next, exit left.
In the Bridge Stand area, head to the left and then climb up. Or, keep going left before climbing and you'll see another rock pile between the water and the graveyard (99.9 Anomaly 2/12). Climb up to the top of this area. There's another cairn on the right up here (101.1 Anomaly 3/12). Go into the building with a red door on the far right side of the central level. Hit the circuit breaker and then use the radio ( or ) near the lamp to advance. Go to the left and activate the cable car to get to the next area.
Things start getting especially strange in the Camp Grounds. Keep walking to the left (again and again) until you see a soccer ball/football. Kick it a few times and then resume walking left when it's gone. Eventually a tape player will show up by the tent. You'll see a lot of these. To activate one, you need to spin the right stick in either direction to get the music to play at the right tempo, which may be slow or very fast. The icon will start to glow white when you're close. At one point in this sequence, you'll see a reflection of yourself in the pond. This is one of the most original concepts in Oxenfree. That reflection is actually another person playing the game and what it says to you is the dialogue option they chose. You'll understand this later on.
Go left for the last time and then climb up to where you can cross over the bridge. You'll see another rock pile just off the path to the left of the bridge (91.5 Anomaly 4/12). To the right of the bridge, walk up toward the bench and get the rock pile there (97.5 Anomaly 5/12). After the bridge, head down. You'll stumble into Nona. Regardless of how you treat her, Jonas will take care of her. Continue right to the next area, Relay Point.
As you make your way right, you'll run into the next pile of rocks, which can be hard to see. It's right by a group of three trees where the central tree is the only one with a lot of leaves (106.7 Anomaly 6/12). Make your way to the top and into the building. When the next loop starts, follow Ren, get the two tape players playing, and then find him in the top left. Here, use the radio thrice. After the encounter, go all to way to the right to the next location.
Part 3 - Finding Clarissa
At the Milner Outpost, head right and then down. You'll need to climb up the tower where you see the red light flashing to use the radio on it. Before or after that, go to the left on the bottom path. A short cairn is next to the targets (104.7 Anomaly 7/12). Proceed through the door you opened on the right.
Now you're in the Facilities. Jonas will lead you through this area. When you lose him, head up to the floor above and hit the light switch on the wall. Go back down to rescue Jonas. Read the codes posted on the wall in this room and then descend back to the bottom floor. Alex will use the code on the door to your right. Carry on through.
Pass through the classroom and down the ladder. Snatch the anomaly on the left (94.3 Anomaly 8/12). Enter the building on the right and use the radio on another red light. What happens here is interesting. You'll be asked a few questions based on how well you've been paying attention up to this point. Being correct may seem important, but it isn't. Jonas will, however, be upset if you miss all of the questions. Check below for the answers if you'd rather not try yourself. Use the radio on Jonas at the end of the sequence and then head through the right door and up the ladder.
Use the radio in this room. Keep entering the room, starting the tape player when it shows up, and go back down the way you came after the shock (don't be concerned about what happens here). The door on the left is now open. Head on through to get back to Milner Outpost. Keep going left to get to the area after that. Walk up the incline and you'll see that you've arrived back at the tower. Climb up there again to meet Ren and Nona.
Part 4 - The New Radio
***There will be a lot of talking once you're reunited, including one of the most important decisions in the game. If you're being nice, side with Jonas in the argument that takes place and then choose to have him come with you so that you can continue building your relationship. If you're being unkind, don't take either side in the argument and take Nona with you (in this case, the game doesn't give you many rude dialogue options when talking to Nona, but it's no cause for concern).
Now you need to return to the very first place we saw at the beginning of the game. Climb down and go through the electric fence. In the next area, go the direction you just came from (the right). A little ways down, you'll see a fork in the road with both choices heading down. Both lead to the same place, but if you take the left one, you'll see another cairn at the sharp turn near the bunker door (102.3 Anomaly 9/12). Continue as far down as you can go and then all the way to the left out of Epiphany Field. You'll see the next anomaly by a lamp post on the way over there (105.1 Anomaly 10/12). Once in Discovery Cliffs, keep walking left into yet another area.
Here, make your way down to the middle level for another odd encounter. You'll need the radio once again. Once the revealing sequence is over, you need to get the green door open on the side of the big brown building you're next to. In the box on the desk is the new radio, which has a much larger frequency range than the one you have. This second radio is required to continue the story and to get all of the collectibles we haven't already found.
The second collectible type is letters from the deceased Maddie Adler, which show up as sparkles on the ground when you're near. You may stumble into them by chance, but if you turn to frequency 140.1 at any time, you'll hear a hint with the keyword given to you in the NATO phonetic alphabet. If you don't know how this works, each word stands for the letter that it begins with. For example, Oxenfree would be relayed to you as Oscar Xray Echo November Foxtrot Romeo Echo Echo. I'll keep the answers in spoiler tags so you have a chance to figure these letters yourself.
Fortunately, you just picked up the first one with the radio so you're already on your way (Letter 1/13). The second is nearby. Tune to 140.1 for the hint (Letter 2/13).
Leave Main Street at the top. You'll be put through a lengthy, touching segment. When it's over, you'll be in Epiphany Field. Pull out your radio for a hint (Letter 3/13).
Keep walking to the right until you reach the gate. You need the use the radio to open it. This is a little different from anything before. The icon next to the gate will have one bar light up when you're close to the signal and then you need to fine tune the dial very slowly from there to get all three bars to light up. Remember that the sweet spot will be outside of your old radio's range so search toward the high and low ends. Go through to the estate.
Keep following your friends here. After the boat talk, go up and open the door to the house with the radio and walk inside. After the conversation inside, go back outside and into the door on the right on the level below to enter the basement. Here, you'll find a code when you interact with the desk. The chest that Alex mentions is where the boat key is hiding.
***Before you go back into the estate, talk to Nona about how great Ren is if you want them to date.
Go back into the house and pull on the string on the ceiling of the second floor to get to them. As you head outside you'll be thrown into a whirlwind of illusions. Your choices here aren't consequential, nor is your performance in the little game you're put through, but in case you want to get everything right, check this spoiler tag:
Activate all three tape players after the game to put an end to the vision. Now go back to the basement where you got the code. Get the reel from the bookshelf, place it on the projector, and then run through the slides to figure out what needs to happen next. Jonas will accompany you in the next part, even if you say you don't want him to. Leave the area on the left using the stairs that go upward, unless you want to take the long way for some collectibles.
Use the stairs going down, which will place you at the beach. Another letter awaits (Letter 5/13).
Now you can go left back to Discovery Cliffs. Open the door to the smaller building at the top of this area to find a cairn inside (100.3 Anomaly 11/12). Then tune to the hint (Letter 4/13).
Unlocked by 11,393 tracked gamers (48% - TA Ratio = 1.44)
Keep walking right until you're back at the gate.
Part 5 - The Station
At the gate once again, travel upward. We're going to go the same way we did to find Ren, but first, make your way to the radio tower area by crossing through the electric gate at the top of Epiphany Field. Radio hint, at the ready! (Letter 6/13)
Now go back down to Epiphany Field. Then go to the top left side of Epiphany Field to enter into the Towhee Woods. The next letter is here (Letter 7/13).
Head to the Bridge Stand through one of the two entryways on the left (one high and one low). 140.1 for the hint, again (Letter 8/13).
Unlocked by 8,638 tracked gamers (36% - TA Ratio = 1.65)
The station we're looking for is at the top of hill. You'll get stuck in a loop on your way up. To advance, walk back down the way you came and watch the sequence.
***When you're teleported into the building, there's an important dialogue option that comes up. The ghosts will offer you a proposition. If you're playing friendly, reject it. Accept it if you're playing mean.
***You'll be stuck in the loop again. This time, go left across the bridge. Before you get the three tape players going, you need to talk to Nona if you want her to date Ren. Tell her that Ren knew she liked him.
***Another important choice here. If you're playing mean and accepted the proposition, let Jonas know the first chance you get by picking "I traded Clarissa for our safety." If you rejected it, then you can tell him, but the other options are fine in that case.
Now's the time to get to the station at the top of the hill. Open it with the radio. Use the stationary radio system inside.
***Tell Ren and Nona if you agreed to the proposition by choosing "I traded Clarissa for our lives." This is how you finally get Nona really mad at you. Keep defending your position until you get to the actual moment of decision at the very end of the game.
Send the call to open up the bunker back at Epiphany Field. Note that entering the bunker is this game's point of no return because it leads to the final minutes. At this time, we're going to round up the last of the collectibles. If you're not going for them, head back the way you came to the bunker and skip down to 'Part 6 - Finishing It'. You'll have another talk with Michael, but this isn't the important one so say whatever you'd like.
Use the cable car on the bottom left to get to the Camp Grounds for the next hint (Letter 9/13).
Exit on the top right. Letter 10 is somewhere here at the Relay Point (Letter 10/13).
Exit on the top right to get to Milner Outpost, where #11 is waiting (Letter 11/13).
Go through the door on the right. In Facilities, you'll see another door you can open with your new radio below. Inside is the final anomaly (89.9 Anomaly 12/12).
Unlocked by 7,055 tracked gamers (30% - TA Ratio = 1.83)
Pull out your radio for the hint (Letter 12/13).
Go through the door on the right side and listen to the final hint (Letter 13/13).
Unlocked by 7,779 tracked gamers (33% - TA Ratio = 1.74)
Not so bad, right? Now exit through the doors on the left and make your way back to the bunker (the middle right of Epiphany Field). Like I said before, you'll have another sweet segment with Michael before you get there, but what you say isn't important in this one.
Part 6 - Finishing It
Double check that you've done everything you want, take the picture with the group, and give some hugs if you'd like. If you talk to Ren, he gives you an indication of whether or not he's decided to date Nona so you'll learn here if you were successful. He and the others will be either mad or happy at you, letting you know how you did there as well. Enter the bunker when you're ready. Continue on the only way you can, ignoring the tape player for now and using the radio at the end of the hall.
***Another important conversation begins. After you get the tape player working, help Jonas if you're being kind to him by using the radio on the tape player. Go against him and move to the the door if you're on the mean playthrough.
Once you're through the door and the encounter that follows, tune into the signal to start the final sequence. In the darkness, walk to the right.
***This part is extremely important. If you're staying silent, there will be no way to save Clarissa, but you CANNOT leave through the red portal without saving her if you're being nice or mean. You can only do so by picking the dialogue options that lead up to it (easy to figure out -- most options lead there anyway as long as you don't give up and leave). Letting the ghosts take Clarissa will keep her relationship with you from factoring into some of the final achievements, which blocks you from getting them. Edit: It seems story changes in a recent update may make it impossible to save Clarissa on your mean playthrough. Don't worry! You should still get that achievement even if you can't get her back.
Now you get to be the player on the other side of the three reflections you found earlier, where you can guide a past version of Alex that will be played by another gamer. A genius aspect of the game, if you ask me.
***The final major decision follows., this one with Michael. If you're silent, Michael will decide to stay, which ultimately leads to him avoiding his death as you know it, meaning that your parents never got divorced and you never met Jonas. You need Jonas to be there at the end in the other two playthroughs, so tell him to leave.
That's it. If you're playing on silent, remember that you're forced to pick a dialogue option after the game-end stats are shown to you - it will never fade away. All of the story achievements you've been going for will pop now if you made the right choices, along with the basic story completion achievement if this is your first time.
Unlocked by 15,681 tracked gamers (66% - TA Ratio = 1.22)
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