By Chris Picone, 17 November 2022
Oakenfold is a tactical turn-based roguelite that sees you as a lone venturer prowling the wilderness of a planet overrun by monsters, trying to secure a precious cargo of fuel required for the survivors to flee the planet.
The hand-painted backdrops are really evocative and do a great job of setting the mood for this desolate landscape. As fitting any wasteland setting, the world and its inhabitants are predominantly brown or grey but offset by vivid greens, purples, and oranges to make it feel truly alien. The game itself consists of the battleground; a tight square gently but somehow clearly broken into tiles and surrounded by gorgeous mountains, festy swamps, glowing flora – it’s as gorgeous as it is functional.
Oakenfold is a roguelike so you can expect short runs and quick deaths. There are two ways to die: If you lose all three of your lives in any battle (or are insta-killed by drowning or sandworm), or if all of your “spare” crates of fuel are destroyed – these carry across battles and don’t replenish. Oakenfold is turn-based but it’s also wave-based so it plays out a little differently than you might be used to. When you first load into a level, the monsters spawn, move, and indicate their targets. You then have 12 action points to spend how you like, after which the enemies attack their indicated targets and the next wave of monsters spawns in. Moving or using one of your abilities each use an action point; you have three abilities to choose from, each with a cooldown before you can re-use them. Efficiency is key. The abilities are my favourite feature of this game because they’re all conditional; backstabbing, for example, allows you to swap places with a monster which might also save you precious movement points, but also means you can’t attack if there’s no space to swap into. A flying kick allows you to leap while attacking but might also push the monster into one of your precious crates. You can stand on a spawn point which insta-kills that monster but at the cost of one of your own lives. Although Oakenfold doesn’t appear to have any meta-progression, you obviously get to push further into the game as you get better at it. In the meantime, it offers three playable characters with drastically different abilities and play styles, and an impressive array of interesting monster and mission variety. It’s well designed for replayability.
Although Oakenfold does revolve around short run game loops, at its heart it’s a hardcore tactical game. Fans of tactical games will love this one; roguelike fans may or may not.