Oakenfold: You Have All The Time In The World. Just.

Humanity is on its last legs, so Asha has to reach the biodome Oakenfold to keep the flame alive. Can she do it in this turn-based time-manipulating strategy game on Steam?

A little indicator of my age and background, but I can’t help but think Oakenfold is a DJ simulator. Someone somewhere will know what that means, but for everyone else, notably the gamers, Oakenfold is a turn-based strategy game from Rutger van Dijk and published by Studio Taghua.

Set in a (hopefully) very distant future, you play as one of the few remaining humans, Asha. With her old man teaching the ways of survival against the invading biocides, he’s eventually killed (not a spoiler), leaving her to fend for herself and reach the last bastion of humanity, the biodome named Oakenfold. However, to reach it, she has to transport enough fuel crates to power it and said biocides are determined to destroy them.

As Asha, you get to choose her class/mindset as well as one of three difficulty settings. Her Survival mindset is about getting the job done, focusing on heavier hits such as melee and a hook that pulls enemies towards you. Agile is mobility, positioning Asha in the right place at the right time (or moving the threats with a void bomb). Finally, the Scientific mindset is a bit like a support class, summoning droids to assist you and immobilising threats.

Oakenfold Review - The Vines
The Vines. Source: Steam

Oakenfold Review

Oakenfold is a ‘choose your own adventure’ in that you pick your preferred path, similar to Ship of Fools. Hovering over each point will indicate what enemies are present and side objectives to earn bonuses should you defeat x number of enemies or don’t take any damage. That’s easier said than done, as because it’s a turn-based game, you have to calculate your moves further down the line, preventing the enemies from spawning and destroying your stock. Fortunately, the ace up your sleeve is the TimeScrubber.

Anyone familiar with video editing will love this feature in Oakenfold: you can scrub through your gameplay timeline and undo every move FOREVER! The Steam page hints that you don’t have to think ahead with your every move as you can reverse it until you get it right, but I’d say Oakenfold needs a decent amount of preparation if you are to survive, as it’s pretty damn tough as a standalone without the feature.

In each stage, you must protect your fuel stacks and ensure that the biocides don’t destroy them. This means using the environment to your advantage, such as getting in close and hitting the enemies, pulling them away from your gear, or pushing them away. They will have a pre-determined attack path which you can see, so it’s a simple case of pushing, pulling or destroying, but moves are limited (hence the TimeScrubber comes into play). For the most part, enemies won’t target Asha, but you can use Asha to block attacks. Once her health depletes, it’s game over; the same goes for the crates. The latter is way more common, and the remainder of your stock carries over to the next stage, so ideally, you need to minimise damage on every round.

Oakenfold Review - Gear up
Gear up. Source: Steam

I Fold

Earn enough Energy, and you can upgrade your gear, pending a craft table can be found on the stage. Here you can improve on your existing equipment, i.e. better grenades, or unlock a new skill that debuffs enemies or adds spread damage to adjacent ones. Materials are relatively scarce, and enemies can destroy your crafting options, so plan ahead! Besides that, crafting takes time, so you must have enough in your TimeBank to proceed. It’s fair to say that you can write off most upgrades as time is of the essence. Still, these will help when targeting the boss, as they’re incredibly hard hitters. At least you can move onto a spawn spot and prevent a lesser enemy from jumping into the (Oaken) fold.

Oakenfold is an innovative and intelligent game. At a glance, it looks like a simple mobile-like game, but there’s a ton of depth to the style of play – not just through the classes/mindsets, but due to the unlimited moves in the TimeScrubber and the fact that levels are procedurally generated. There’s also an online hi-score option to motivate you to get better runs. And, to come full circle to the DJ reference, the music throughout is spot on and perfectly complements the gameplay and its pacing. If you have the time (boom, boom!), check out this indie strategy game.