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For all systems. To play, you'll need a glulx interpreter - visit Brass Lantern for download links.
Walkthrough and map
Verbose walkthrough and map by David Welbourn.

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Ollie Ollie Oxen Free

by Carolyn VanEseltine profile


(based on 17 ratings)
3 member reviews

About the Story

"War may sometimes be a necessary evil. But no matter how necessary, it is always an evil, never a good. We will not learn how to live together in peace by killing each other's children." - Jimmy Carter

Game Details

Language: English (en)
First Publication Date: September 29, 2013
Current Version: Unknown
License: Freeware
Development System: Inform 7
IFID: D67EA4B1-3533-4A44-9654-575CECBCCFEA
TUID: ugca99t2yhtat452


3rd Place overall; 3rd Place, Miss Congeniality Award - 19th Annual Interactive Fiction Competition (2013)

Winner, Best NPCs - 2013 XYZZY Awards


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Number of Reviews: 3
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful:
Helplessness and Children, February 13, 2014
by Bruno Dias
Related reviews: IF Comp 2013
IF with NPC sidekicks that obey the player's every command often risk appearing redundant, with a second pair of hands that have no plot function. Ollie Ollie Oxen Free introduces six additional pairs of hands for the player to control, and uses them to tightly integrate the gameplay, plot, and emotional arcs of the story.

To keep you relying on the game's cast of non-player characters, Ollie presents a PC who is momentarily incapacitated, unable to cope with even the simplest physical tasks. This set-up would be interesting just in gameplay terms, but Ollie adds to it the strong emotional hook of putting you in the position of an elementary school teacher who has to depend on his students to get everyone out safely after a bombing. The story never stops reminding you that the NPCs you are relying on to be your hands, eyes, and ears in the game world are still children. I'm not a parent or a teacher, or a particularly sensitive person even when it comes to depictions of children in dangerous situations, but Ollie Ollie Oxen Free still had me completely floored with the strength of its emotional arc; it's really damnably effective at times.

Structurally, the game could be called a light puzzlefest. Most of the game is spent rescuing the various students from their respective predicaments, often allowing you to drop one puzzle to go deal with another and come back later, which is always appreciated. The implementation is very thoughtful the game provides prompts to suggest any unique or uncommon verbs to you, there's a responsive hint system along with explicit walkthrough instructions, and the puzzles are generally well thought-out, thematically interesting, and sensible.

However, still on implementation, it lacks polish. There aren't that many implemented responses to actions that don't advance the puzzles; in one case, an alternate solution I thought was fairly obvious is blocked with what appears to be a generic message. The game includes a THINK ABOUT verb to recall memories about people and objects, but a lot of the backstory mentions people and things that you can't think about. There's some lacking synonyms STUDENT, STAND ON COUNTER doesn't work, but STUDENT, GET ON THE COUNTER does, for example

Overall, a very strong piece, and hopefully it'll be updated to improve its implementation; there's a very thoughtful design, great characters, and strong prose in place here, but it could have benefited from more playtesting.

3 of 4 people found the following review helpful:
Stick with it, October 28, 2013
by streever (America)
This game has some rough spots and wonky implementation, and I hope the writer smoothes them out post-contest.

Even if she doesn't, I urge you to stick with it, because it is a really powerful piece of fiction and a great game to boot.

There were some odd mishaps that really frustrated me at times--making me feel like I couldn't solve this game--but when I checked the hints/walkthroughs I'd see I'd been doing it right, but just didn't get quite the right verb/noun.

With a little editing and polish, I think this will be an incredibly accessible game that deals with some powerful themes and features excellent writing.

I'm really looking forward to more work from this developer/writer. I enjoyed Beet the Devil, and this game is significantly stronger in content, tone, and mechanics.

Slick implementation of ordering NPC's, coupled with compelling story, February 3, 2016
This game is set in a military school after an attack that has left you, a teacher, weak and helpless. You have to give orders to six children, each of which has their own problems. Together, you have to get out.

I played with this game for about a half hour to get a feel for it before going to the walkthrough. For puzzle fans, it's worth trying much longer, teasing out the next step, etc.

For those using David W's walkthrough, note that the walkthrough itself contains major spoilers at the very end (which makes sense), so it is perhaps best to go through it in order. However, I still enjoyed the game as I was spoiled.

The writing and setting are excellent, as in the other IFComp game by VanEseltine I tried, One Eye Open. If you like a sense of urgency, of hope fighting against darkness, of slick implementation, then both these games are for you.

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2013 XYZZY Awards Nominees by Molly
Here are the nominees for the 2013 XYZZY Awards, roughly by order of appearance on the finalist page. Note that this list does not cover the Best Technological Development Award.


The following polls include votes for Ollie Ollie Oxen Free:

For Your Consideration: Games from 2013 that should be nominated for the XYZZY Awards by Molly
There were a lot of great games released in 2013, and now that the XYZZYs are coming up, it seems like a very good idea to take a poll of all the games from last year people would like to see nominated. The management has asked that we...

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Plot-driven Narrative by Jerako
I'm looking for a list of games to try where the narrative is the focus of the game. Where the author is really trying to tell a story over making a puzzlefest (though puzzles aren't necessarily unwelcome, especially if they drive they...

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This is version 5 of this page, edited by David Welbourn on 19 June 2015 at 9:27pm. - View Update History - Edit This Page - Add a News Item