I get scared very easily, so I stayed away from Oxenfree for a while. Then my friend showed me the song “Beacon Beach” from the Oxenfree OST, and I knew I had to buck up and play this game.
Yes, Oxenfree is creepy. Yes, I was scared. But the phenomenal soundtrack kept me going.
Every nuance in the Oxenfree OST complements the game. The trippy atmosphere matches the paranormal activity. The electronic instruments work off the electronic devices for communicating with ghosts. The wavering pitches play off the radio-tuning mechanic. And, of course, the overall creepiness is inspired by the creepiness of the game.
Rather than “creepy,” though, much of the Oxenfree OST can be more accurately described as “hauntingly beautiful.” After all, Oxenfree is about the relationship between death and love. Seeing the ghost of your dead brother is terrifying, confusing, exhilarating, and really sad. Composer scntfc does a fantastic job at capturing this complex feeling throughout the OST. The most notable examples of this are “Cold Comfort”, “Catbird Station”, and, of course, the finale, “The Beach, 7AM.”
Then there are the turnt songs that convinced me to play the game in the first place. I’ve already mentioned “Beacon Beach,” so let’s bring “Epiphany Fields,” “Towhee Grove,” and “Kanaloa” into the picture. Within all the spookiness and sadness, these indie synth-pop jams will occasionally turn up and wash over you a feeling of relief and energy, reminding you that you are present, you are alive, while swimming through the past that haunts you.
However, because of the OST’s close relationship to the game, some of the tracks are certainly more complementary material than pieces intended for standalone listening. This is most evident with the pieces that are particularly scary, or highly atmospheric. When listening to “Against the Waves” in the game, I’m anxiously trying to exorcise a ghost from a friend; when listening to it on its own, I’m just anxious for the track to end. Similarly, I can see how some listeners may get bored after listening to the more atmospheric tracks like “The Gate” or “Argonaut.” Because of this quality, the Oxenfree OST may not the best OST for listening to outside of the game.
The Oxenfree OST captures the themes of processing a sibling’s death: emptiness, a loss of innocence, distancing from reality, anger and self-blame. Take all that and add on the feelings of seeing your loved one’s ghost. No matter what flurry of emotions you’re going through, scntfc always makes sure to maintain an element of creepiness. Sit back, have a listen, and get ready to feel the spook.