Oxenfree: Review and Analysis

More video game reviews and analyses can be found here.

Note: Source for banner artwork can be found at this site discussing other potential media adaptations of the game.

Title: Oxenfree
Adventure/Exploration, Puzzle, Mystery, Horror
Developer: Night School Studio
Release Date: January 15, 2016

Oxenfree coverLet’s Player: ChristoperOdd
Date Started: 9/2/18
Date Finished: 9/5/18

A supernatural thriller about a group of friends who unwittingly open a ghostly rift.

With a heavy Stranger Things vibe and a female MC who’s a person of color, I couldn’t help but be drawn into this paranormal tale that starts out (like most) normally enough with a group of teenagers participating in a high school rite of passage that turns into a supernatural mystery involving secret subs, a lost crew, and a government cover up not dissimilar to The Philadelphia Experiment and Montauk.

Oxenfree, developed by Night School Studio and the brainchild of former Telltale and Disney employees, was released on January 16, 2016 accompanied by developmental documentaries and an alternative reality game (ARG), which allows players to interact with it in the real world, lending a creepier air to an already eerie narrative.   The atmospheric music, composed by scntfc, adds the perfect accompaniment to Alex and company’s exploration of the abandoned Edwards Island.  Along with the music, Morse code serves an integral part to understanding what happened here, though, as usual, the internet provides for those of us not savvy enough to be knowledgeable.

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Final Fantasy Friday: Final Fantasy V

Final Fantasy Reviews

<–Final Fantasy IV Review                                                                      Final Fantasy VI Review–>

This is the part of a long-term project to play and review/analyze all the Final Fantasy games.  Whenever possible, I will play the original version, but in cases where it’s not available and/or there are time constraints, I’ll use a port and/or watch a Let’s Play, both of which contingencies will be indicated in the review.  Ideally, I will attempt to play a portion so that I can remark more accurately on the gameplay experience.  These will be long-form reviews with detailed plot analyses, so please be wary if you do not want spoilers.

I started my Final Fantasy journey in the 80’s with the legitimate sixth installment Final Fantasy VI, and though I did eventually go back to play Final Fantasy IV (which is now in my top 5 FF games), somehow or another I missed V.  While IV is known for being the first Final Fantasy to have a cohesive and intricate story, it had a static job system with only one character changing per the demands of the plot.  Final Fantasy V allows the player complete control over what jobs their characters have even more than Final Fantasy III, which required a certain amount of points to alter.  This was a huge advantage and helped distinguish FFV from its predecessors.

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Thimbleweed Park

More video game reviews can be found here.

Genre: Point & Click, Mystery, Adventure
Developer: Terrible Toybox
Release Date: March 30, 2017
Platform: Nintendo Switch

Thimbleweed Park coverStart Date: February 25, 2018
Finish Date: April 23, 2018
Playing Duration: 57 days

Thimbleweed Park is a point & click murder-mystery adventure that winds up being much more than just your run-of-the-mill “who done it?”  Two federal agents, Ray and Reyes are dispatched to the small, titular town to investigate the murder of a foreign businessman, but each of them has an ulterior motive for being there.  Ray, the senior agent, is snarky and sarcastic with no time for rookie Agent Reyes’ overly enthusiastic attitude.  She wants to get in and get out as quickly as possible, and it’s clear early on how much she hates both the town and its residents, especially the irritating and unhelpful sheriff/coroner.  The rest of the town’s residents vary in their degrees of helpfulness, and as everything comes together, more than a mystery will be cracked wide open.

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Final Fantasy A Crystal Compendium – Final Fantasy Friday: Final Fantasy III Review

This article is part of a community-wide project about Final Fantasy. Links to other articles in this series, written by the other contributors can be found in the main hub area.

Final Fantasy Reviews

<–Final Fantasy II Review                                           Final Fantasy IV Review–>

This is the part of a long-term project to play and review/analyze all the Final Fantasy games.  Whenever possible, I will play the original version, but in cases where it’s not available and/or there are time constraints, I’ll use a port and/or watch a Let’s Play, both of which contingencies will be indicated in the review.  Ideally, I will attempt to play a portion so that I can remark more accurately on the gameplay experience.  These will be long-form reviews with detailed plot analyses, so please be wary if you do not want spoilers.

Greetings, salutations and Happy New Year to you all.  I am slowly working my way through the Final Fantasy titles and have recently completed the third installment.  I have been giving much thought to going back and playing the re-releases of I and II especially since I received a $200 Best Buy gift card in addition to a $50 Amazon one and could conceivably purchase both the system I might need and the games, but I’m still in the thinking phase, and today I’m in the review one for III.

Final Fantasy III cover

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The State of the Writer: 9/17/17

<–The State of the Writer: 9/10/17          The State of the Writer: 9/24/17–>

A weekly post updated every Sunday discussing my current writing projects and where I stand with them.  This will include (but not be limited to) any and all work(s) in progress (WIPs) be they creative writing, essays/analyses, and reviews.  Additionally, this post will showcase what writing projects I’ve completed in the past week as a sort of weekly roundup, as I’ve seen other cooler bloggers do.

Finished This Week: 3

Project: Book Review
Title: Gaslight Hades
Author: Grace Draven
Date Posted: September 11, 2017

One book review finished out of many needed this past week, but I’m starting to look at the reviews as yet another long term project, especially if I’m going to finish three or so books a week.  This novel is in the running for my Book of the Year, and Grace Draven may very well be my new/current favorite author.

Project: Award
Title: Not Really Another Liebster Award
Author: Inkbiotic

As the title states, it’s not really another Liebster award, but rather one I scooped up on Ms. Inkbiotic’s blog as it was so offered.  It was a great deal of fun, and it roused her out of hiding to answer my questions in turn.  I call that a win 😀

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Gaslight Hades by Grace Draven (The Bonekeeper Chronicles #1)

The Bonekeeper Chronicles

Gaslight Viduus (TBK #2)–>

Title: Gaslight Hades
Series Title: The Bonekeeper Chronicles
Author: Grace Draven
Date Added: June 11, 2017
Date Started: July 2, 2017
Date Finished: July 12, 2017
Reading Duration: 10 days
Genre: Fantasy/Science Fantasy, Paranormal Romance, Supernatural, Steampunk, Gothic

Pages: 117
Publication Date: March 10, 2017
Publisher: Self
Media: eBook/Kindle

Shares Paradigms With: Final Fantasy VII, SOMA, Lovecraft, Frankenstein (Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley), Wraith Kings, Dracula/Castlevania, The Raven (Edgar Allen Poe)

Nathaniel Gordon walks two worlds—that of the living and the dead. Barely human, he’s earned the reputation of a Bonekeeper, the scourge of grave robbers. He believes his old life over, until one dreary burial he meets the woman he once loved and almost married.

Lenore Kenward stands at her father’s grave, begging the protection of the mysterious guardian, not knowing he is her lost love. Resolved to keep his distance, Nathaniel is forced to abandon his plan and accompany Lenore on a journey into the mouth of Hell where sea meets sky, and the abominations that exist beyond its barrier wait to destroy them.

*****Some minor spoilers for the narrative in discussion.*******

Grace Draven shows off her ability to subvert established narratives and tropes in this Victorian steampunkish tale of stolen bodies, a Lovecraftian portal, lost loves, and the resurrected dead.  The author also draws from her prior series Wraith Kings (linked in the Shares Paradigms With section above) in ways that though numerous are neither tedious nor redundant.

In Nathaniel Gordon’s case, he was denied even the chance at love with Lenore Kenward before perishing in an airship accident, nor was he allowed to lay unmolested, instead he was forced to inhabit the form so graciously revealed on the book’s cover.  A transfer of  consciousness from broken body into a new, binding all together with gehenna, which proves its meaning of “a place of fiery torment for the dead” in what our hero suffers upon revival.  By the time he’s past the agony, Dr. Harvel, the depraved scientist who made him, is dead, slain by Gideon, his original creation, and Nathaniel is in the first Guardian’s care, slowing recovering from death’s transition to a semblance of life.

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The Unfinished Seventh

More Final Fantasy essays, metas, and examinations can be found here.

Today is the 20th anniversary of Final Fantasy VII’s North American release.  As with prior years, I always attempt to post something to commemorate the occasion, and I was fortunate enough to have this essay half completed (also fittingly as you’ll soon see).  Despite being on vacation this week and the next, it was still a challenge to finish, and I nearly had to find an alternative to post, but my stubbornness prevailed, and I am able to celebrate my favorite story of all time’s release on the day it happened with writing, the method I love the most.

A Greek tragedy depicts the downfall of a basically good person through some fatal error or misjudgment, producing suffering and insight on the part of the protagonist and arousing pity and fear on the part of the audience.  A true or full tragedy should evoke such, as they are natural human responses to the spectacle of suffering and pain, which causes relief at the end through catharsis as the spectators are purged of these feelings.  There is a release in witnessing painful pageantry and its subsequent resolution, but when tragedy is halved, leaving all of the sorrow and none of the purge, the tale lingers without this necessary release.

The story of Final Fantasy VII has endured for two decades where countless other games are antiquity’s lost.  It is frequently discussed and forever argued.  There are neither clear cut answers to many of the questions the narrative asks, nor a satisfying release to the tragedy it presents.  Lifting one side of the scale high in the air without the resolution of catharsis to balance.  Like an unresolved seventh in music, the tragedy of the story lingers in respect to Sephiroth.

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Final Fantasy Character Assessments: Cecil Harvey

Final Fantasy Character Assessments

Squall Leonhart–>

Name: Cecil Harvey
Game: Final Fantasy IV
Job: Dark Knight/Paladin
Age: 20

And where we had thought to find an abomination
we shall find a God.
And where we had thought to slay another
we shall slay ourselves.
Where we had thought to travel outwards
we shall come to the center of our own existence.
And where we had thought to be alone
we shall be with all the world.
-Joseph Campbell “The Hero With a Thousand Faces”

Major Arcana: Temperance – Cecil (whom I’ve written a full character analysis on before) is the perfect balance of two distinct worlds..  This revelation is foreshadowed in how he manages to reconcile his dark side and become a paladin even before he discovers the full truth of his origins.

Zodiac: Virgo with a Libra moon – Virgos are typically analytical, hardworking, kind, and practical.  They worry often, are shy, and don’t like being the center of attention.  They’re also modest, faithful, quiet, and persuasive with a good sense of reasoning and memory.

This sign seems to be the perfect fit for Cecil.  The eventual paladin is described as a quiet, young man of unsurpassed skill with the dark blade.  He never comes off as a braggart or someone who desires attention just for attention’s sake.  The opening FMV shows him in contemplation with Rosa, and we know from the game’s story that the Dark Knight feels unworthy of the White Mage’s love and worries he’ll never live up to what he thinks she deserves.  However, he’s utterly devoted to her, nor does he ever give up on Kain even when the dragoon knight turns against his best friend.  Cecil does break faith with the king of Baron, but only because he refuses to kill a child (Rydia of Mist) after (inadvertently) burning down her village and slaying her mother as the king’s pawn.  His reasoning remains sound to the point of overriding orders he finds morally repugnant.

The Libra moon adds another layer of rationality.  They tend to be peacemakers, and Cecil is literally the synthesis and the balance of two planets.  He’s the light side of the moon who remains steadfast even in the face of earth shattering revelations that could easily cause an existential crisis.

Alignment: Lawful Good – Up until the events of the game, particularly his mission to Mist, Cecil had no major issues following this path, though we do see him questioning the king on the opening flight back to Baron.  When his orders unequivocally demanded he kill a child, Cecil withstood the inner conflict to go against such an abhorrent act.

Myers-Briggs Personality Type: ISFJ (Introversion-Sensing-Feeling-Judging) – Cecil is definitely an introvert.  Final Fantasy has the distinctive trend of main characters that fit this trait, which is pretty awesome.  Since he’s captain of the Red Wing fleet, sensing seems more practical than intuition, and at one point he plans to go after the seven Crystals already stolen, while Golbez searches for the one he doesn’t yet have, a wholly sensible plan.

I went back and forth between F and T, but settled on the former, since Cecil’s first major decision was based on a personal value, the belief that killing children is wrong no matter what you’re ordered to do (take that “I was just following orders”).  He also adds the destruction of Mist and the death of Rydia’s mother to his growing cache of guilt.  His inability to give up on Kain showcases the trait of looking for the best in people, and he values forgiveness not only for his troubled adopted brother, but also seeks it himself.

Cecil isn’t wishy-washy, and being a captain/soldier, he’d have a sense of rules and deadlines with plans in place.  After Kain returns to his rightful self, the paladin forgives him immediately with no grudge left to hold.  This led me to pick judging for the final piece.

ISFJ is considered The Defender, which solidifies my decision to affix this personality type to Cecil .  People like this rarely sit idle while a worthy cause remains unfinished.  They don’t feel comfortable in the spotlight, but they’ll endure it to ensure what needs to be done is done.

Diagnosis: Cecil is pretty level headed, but it’s possible he’s dealing with some depression at the beginning of the game when he’s still a Dark Knight.  There are also some self-esteem issues, too, since he believes he doesn’t deserve Rosa, a White Mage, for this very same reason even though she obviously loves him.  He’s been forced to fit himself into the wrong role by his adopted father and king, and it’s causing a major identity crisis.  He’s not sure what he’s supposed to be, but he knows it’s not supposed to be that.  The majority of this is alleviated when he becomes a paladin and literally defeats his darker self.  However the identity crisis gains a new facet due the mirror’s light at the top of Mt. Ordeals calling him “son.”

Despite all of this, Cecil is still probably one of the most balanced characters and/or balanced main characters in Final Fantasy.  This could be due to the fact that he has an existential crisis to deal with from the get-go, so when the more prominent one occurs much later in the game, he’s better prepared.  His identity didn’t so much change from Dark Knight to Paladin as be revealed for the latter after the forced and false one was literally slain.

What do you think of my assessments of this character?  Do you agree?  Disagree?  Would you pick another Major Arcana, astrological sign, alignment, MBTI, and/or diagnosis?  Let’s discuss in the comments and let me know whom you want me to do next!

Squall Leonhart–>









Cecil Harvey

These are intended to be brief analysis of characters from some of my favorite narratives, but as you all should know by know I can be quite long-winded or rather long-worded so I cannot guarantee a short read.  They will more than likely spoil whatever story/series they come from so be wary of that if you have not read, seen, or played whatever that might be.

Name: Cecil Harvey
Work(s): Final Fantasy IV, The Interlude, The After Years, Dissidia, Dissidia 012
Work Author/Creator: Hironobu Sakaguchi (Squaresoft/Square Enix)
Genre: Fantasy
Medium: Video Game


KluYa and Cecilia

Cecil Harvey is the main protagonist of Final Fantasy IV, the fourth installation of the epic video game series.  His father KluYa was of alien origin from a lost world that dwelled between Mars and Jupiter.  KluYa, with the rest of his people, escaped their civilization’s collapse to create a second (and false) satellite of the Blue Planet.

During early forays there, KluYa met and fell in love with an earth woman Cecilia with whom he also fathered Cecil’s elder brother Theodore.  Tragically, both Cecil’s parents met untimely deaths.  His father was killed by the very villagers to whom he was attempted to teach the technology and magic of his home world, and Cecilia died in childbirth with Cecil.  KluYa’s demise was more than likely a factor in the Lunarians’ decision to put themselves into stasis until the people of the Blue Planet were more advanced and ready to accept them.

cecil-and-rosa-opening-sceneNot long after he was born, a grief-stricken Theodore abandoned his baby brother in the Kingdom of Baron where the infant was taken in and raised as the king’s own.  He excelled in swordsmanship and became the youngest captain of Baron’s elite airship fleet the Red Wings.  The king encouraged Cecil to take up the dark sword and

"We shall slay ourselves..."

become a Dark Knight.  This gave Cecil a bit of a melancholy, but not brooding, nature, as later in his journey, it’s revealed he was ever destined for the paladin’s path.  Defeating his dark side revealed both his true colors and physical appearance.  Cecil is a stunningly beautiful young man with shoulder length silvery-white hair, violet eyes, and a bluish tinge to his lips.  rosa-3He’s mutually enamored of the equally gorgeous Rosa, a white mage of endless devotion and grace who is also the unrequited love of Kain Highwind, the dragoon knight who’s Cecil’s adopted brother and brother-in-arms.

Raised together by the king of Baron, Kain trained to become a dragoon like his birth father as Cecil eventually took up the mantle of paladin like his own.  Unfortunately, like his blood brother, Cecil’s adopted

brother Kain betrays him under the latter’s influence as Theodore’s identity is hidden under the persona of Golbez who himself is being manipulated by Zemus, a Lunarian in the core of the moon who refused the others’ self-imposed stasis. Kidnapping Rosa is among one of their many crimes.

Cecil doesn’t discover the full truth of his origins until far later in his story when he journeys to the false moon and meets up with his uncle FuSoYa, the keeper of the Lunarians’ slumber and possibly the oldest character in the Final Fantasy franchise.

Brothers by blood

Brothers by blood

In this place of his (half) origin, the young knight discovers his antagonist is actually his blood brother and is forced to face the truth of that as he was forced to face his other brother’s betrayal.

Cecil rises to the occasion though despite misgivings.  Throughout the entire story, he is a loyal friend and companion even to those he’s just met, forgiving Kain before the dragon knight can even ask for it, against the mistrust of other party members.  The only time you see him hesitate is when the last battle is won and Golbez/Theodore and FuSoYa are preparing to depart presumably forever.  The paladin struggles to think of the man who was his enemy for so long as his brother, but he eventually does gift Golbez with that blessed name, turning him back to Theodore once again.

Cecil questioning motifs is nothing new.  The game begins with him doubting the mission he’s just returned from where he was ordered by Baron’s king to take the Mysidian’s Water Crystal.  He challenged the highest authority in the land and was punished for it, but it immediately showed the player that this was a character who wasn’t afraid to speak up when something wasn’t right.

After the engineered disaster in Mist, Cecil takes in and cares for Rydia

even though she rightfully abhors him at first for not only killing her mother, but destroying her village.

When later events lead him to wash up in Mysidia, the locale of his first war crime, the (currently still) dark knight undertakes the hitherto impossible task of becoming a paladin at the summit of Mt. Ordeals.  Despite the obstacles and enemies thrown in his way he succeeds, proving himself worthy of the mages’ trust in addition to fulfilling a destiny laid long ago that leads him from the center of his mother’s world to the center of his father’s and back again to take up his adopted father’s role of king.

Cecil’s story is one of origin and responsibility.  He takes up the mantles he must, but even in his dark beginning, he neither strays nor corrupts the light path of his destiny.  Narratives often give covered faces to both inconsequential enemies and Big Bads alike, so it is an interesting turn of trope that the main protagonist of Final Fantasy IV begins in such a way.  His face isn’t revealed until a third of the way through the game, but his nature is plain from the start.  Cecil may be forced to hide behind his armor, but he refuses to accept the role of faceless monster.  The atoner’s path leads to the paladin’s light and eventual truth of his origins as a reward.






The State of the Writer: 11/26/16

<–The State of the Writer: 11/19/16          The State of the Writer: 12/3/16–>

A weekly post updated every Saturday discussing my current writing projects and where I stand with them.  This will include any and all work(s) in progress (WIP) be they creative writing, essays/analyses, or reviews of any type.

Project: Story
The Broken Rose
Genre: Paranormal Romance
Type: Fanfiction (FFVII) Novel
Current Word Count: 278,815
Prior Word Count: 278,742
Word Difference: +73
Status: Editing
Progress: First edit of Chapter 7

Chapter 4 - Blood Dance

You can’t write about someone who’s a known killer without showing them doing some killing.  This has been a rule of mine since my novel.  Granted, the general isn’t slaughter whom he truly wishes to slaughter (mores the pity…I want him to butcher them, too), but in this far better, future world, his seemingly murderous nature serves the purpose of keeping the Whispers safe from monsters and keeping Aeris safe, too.

I just started the first edit yesterday, and I’m quite shocked with how well it’s going.  I must’ve done some adequate editing when I was writing it, because I’ve done very minimal corrections.  I did just start though and prior to plunging in made the observation that the chapter does have a lot in it that may either need to be cut or modified.  Shortly, I shouldn’t rest on my laurels just yet.

I changed the chapter title from “Dark Poetry” to “Dark Promises,” but I still have no idea what I’m going to use for a cover picture.  It’s not going to be the above, since I used that for Northern Lights’ Chapter 4 “Blood Dance,” and I have a personal rule to not repeat the same picture even if it is another work.  I am thinking the image might be in the same vein since the chapter opens with Sephiroth hunting monsters, but like everything, I might still change my mind.  The picture is supposed to capture the essence of the chapter, which I usually figure out before the first edit is done.

Quote: The next part never grew easier.  He was just used to the pain.  The agony of flesh and bone tearing around the black of that wing.  *If I’m going to kill monsters I may as well be one.*  He didn’t need it to fly, but he couldn’t without, nor was it called where eyes lived to see.  The folk of the Whispers knew what he was, but there was no need for them to bear witness. Familiarity had breed fondness, not quite fear and definite respect.  They seemed almost proud of their preternatural mayor whom all still called “general.”

This is the only thing I’m working on?  Good lord it is.  I finished up the Final Fantasy IV and the Magonia review this week.  The FFIV review was  a major project that took up a great deal of my writing time, but now that that’s done, I want to return to working on my “Half a Tragedy” FFVII meta/essay showing the similarities between the game and Greek tragedy, and since I’m just coming off FFIV, I’m thinking of continuing my Character Analysis series with one for Cecil.  I’m still playing through the GBA version of FFIV (interspersed with Dawn of Souls/FFI) so he’s still pretty fresh in my mind.  Eventually, I’m also going to finish up the edit of my original short story The Threads of Sorrow, and of course I want to start on my “Song of VIIs” series, which is my attempt to show the myriad similar themes between Final Fantasy VII and George R R Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire.  A few of them require prerequisite reading (yes, I’m that pretentious) like the Poetic Edda so I can brush up on my Norse mythology, but the first one on my list has to do with missing mothers, dickhead dads, and subsequent lost children.  No additional reading necessary (I say that now).

So because I like bullet point lists, here’s one of upcoming projects:

  • “Half a Tragedy” – an FFVII meta showing the similarities between the game and Greek tragedy
  • Character Analysis: Cecil Harvey
  • The Threads of Sorrow final edit
  • The “Song of VIIs” essay series

What are you currently working on?  Is it a creative writing project, essay, review, or something else?  Have you just started something new or are you wrapping up a long term project?

<–The State of the Writer: 11/19/16          The State of the Writer: 12/3/16–>