While I don’t speak for RPS, Telltale games are adventure games as far as this site is concerned (well, and for many others too, like already pointed out in a previous post). As anecdotal proof, some of them were included in the top XX adventure games post.
The traditional graphical point’n’click format is a niche within adventure games. This has always been the case as adventure games existed long before Lucasfilm introduced SCUMM, and were still being made in other forms after it went out of fashion. It’s simply the case that, at some point, the general public began equating adventure games with graphical PnC, and the expressions were being used interchangeably.
Now, a crucial element which is apparently missed by some here that do not have an interest in narrative-driven games, is that the adventure game dilemma consists of having mechanics which support the delivery of the narrative component instead of hindering it.
Traditional point’n’click adventures are a prime example of this problem, but for a game which tries something different and still manages to prove the point exactly, look no further than Gods Will Be Watching: in all these cases, the player is constantly confronted with gameplay mechanics which disrupt the delivery of the narrative component, making the game a pain to play: for instance, having failure states in an adventure game make it less enjoyable, rather than more (rubber tree anyone?). Part of this also fuels the argument in favor of ‘logical puzzles’, and probably one reason why so many praise the Blackwell series: logical puzzles as puzzles whose solutions comes naturally, supporting the story pacing, instead of constituting a frustrating roadblock to further advance the story. A similar complaint is often leveled against the puzzles of To The Moon, which are often felt like unwanted distractions, annoyances, that detract from the game’s experience rather than add to it.
Claiming that the mechanics in Oxenfree are terrible, is missing all of this entirely: they are functional to that game’s experience, aiming to support a smooth delivery; as such they should be evaluated in the perspective of how well they are capable of doing that; in the perspective, of what the game aims to do, rather than what it doesn’t try at all, which is exactly what ‘non-game’ express as a linguistic expression: a failure to be something else,
It is instead a failure of analysis, a setting of arbitrary goals that are not relevant, do not apply, to the case being analyzed.
In that light, I would say the mechanics in Oxenfree do work well. They are not perfect though: one flaw in Oxenfree is that you have a chance to unwillingly interrupt other characters while they are still talking, leading to unintended effects on the relationships with them, and making the player feel bad for being mistaken as a dick.
Night School may have realized at some point that this wasn’t working well, as the problem seemed limited to the early game to me; but maybe I just trained myself to time the conversation better - can’t be 100% sure now.
In case any of you may have missed it, one of the KRZ interludes is an actual play.