It all began with a phone number hidden within Oxenfree’s in-game radio stations, or “anomalies.” When called, it played the song “Beacon Beach,” by artist scntfc, the composer behind the game’s soundtrack.
Well, so what?
Go back and listen again and you’ll find lines of morse code in the song, with messages such as “Maggie,” “All is lost,” and most interestingly, “Search Twitter 4 num.” Internet sleuths looking the number up on Twitter found a cryptic profile, and so began Oxenfree’s alternate reality game (ARG) set out by the creators of the supernatural teen drama at Night School Studio.
To explain what happened after that, Damien Bamford recently released a short documentary about the ARG, profiling its discovery and its participants’ journey through the Pacific Northwest. Following the group of around 20, Bamford’s documentary shows the strange journey Night School Studio and scntfc sent its fans on, culminating in the discovery of a one-of-a-kind music box created by the composer at Washington’s Fort Ward.
Speaking to Bamford, scntfc explains he and Night School would release cryptic codes for players to investigate and solve, revealing slowly but surely more pieces of the puzzle until ultimately they revealed a date and location for a real-world chapter of the game. Scntfc was actually the one who physically went out and set the game up, building rock formations similar to those seen in the game, hiding clues and cassette tapes, and making sure players were led to their goal.
The documentary is worth a watch to see the back-and-forth the creators and players had, the all-seeing-eye Night School used to watch every step of its game, and the organization of a pretty large community to come together and discover its secrets. Its also an endearing look at the bonds and friendships made through investigation and discovery, very similar to theme of the game itself.
For more on Oxenfree, read our review. You can also follow Bamford on Twitter to keep up with his future projects.