Oxenfree II: Lost Signals is a much bigger, bolder, and stranger experience than its predecessor. The game is developed by Night School, and it has taken them a full three years to craft. The game is much more accomplished in every facet; character models are much more detailed with enhanced animation, environments are brought to life with beautiful colour and lighting, and the gameplay feels much smoother and more fluid than before.
The Gameplay and Narrative
Oxenfree II takes place five years after the first game and stars Riley Poverly, a woman who returns to the coastal town of Camena to investigate strange goings-on after unusual electromagnetic waves cause interference with radio signals. The game’s narrative is reminiscent of the mysteries raised in the first game, and even in the short session players get to play, there are multiple narrative seeds planted that players can’t wait to dig up when they get their hands on the full game.
The game’s protagonist, Riley, is a bit older, a bit wiser, and a lot more straight-talking than the first game’s protagonist, Alex. The back-and-forth with her partner, Jacob Summers, reminded us a lot of the dialogue between Henry and Delilah in Campo Santo’s Firewatch. It felt nice to focus on just two core characters, rather than the five you had in the first game.
Night School has made great strides with the overall gameplay. It feels similar to the first game in many ways, but Oxenfree II is undoubtedly a more immediately satisfying experience. Character movement is more intuitive; climbing is faster, and it’s much easier to gauge where you need to be going.
The game’s new walkie-talkie system is the biggest improvement. Characters you’ve met are assigned specific numbers through your walkie-talkie, and you can call them up at any time, even if you’re talking with someone else in person. This means that while the demo was mostly linear, there will be sections of the full game that will require independent investigation, needing you to call up multiple characters to follow through on certain narrative threads. It’s a cool addition and makes the world feel much more alive.
The Standalone Story
If you haven’t played the first game, don’t worry. Oxenfree II has been designed to be a standalone story that newcomers can jump straight into. While players will most certainly benefit from having some familiarity with the first game, the team initially struggled to decide on where to take Oxenfree after the first game, reluctant to turn protagonist Alex into some sort of “hero”. After creating other games, including the excellent adventure title Afterparty, the team realised that Oxenfree was much more than just Alex’s story and decided to branch out and tell other tales within the same world.
If you’re a fan of the first game, then Oxenfree II seems like a no-brainer. Even if you’ve not experienced it before, we’d definitely recommend keeping an eye on this as we approach its release date of July 12th, 2023. It’s a game that’s evidently full of mystery and intrigue, and if you like intricately woven narratives guided by well-realised characters, then you really can’t go wrong.
Oxenfree II: Lost Signals is a game that is much bigger, bolder, and stranger than its predecessor. Night School has taken three years to craft it, and it shows in every facet of the game. Oxenfree II is a more accomplished piece of work; character models are much more detailed with enhanced animation, environments are brought to life with beautiful colour and lighting, and the gameplay feels much smoother and more fluid than before. The game’s narrative takes place five years after the first game, and players follow Riley Poverly to investigate strange goings-on in Camena. The game’s new walkie-talkie system is the biggest improvement, and it makes the world feel much more alive. Players don’t need to have played the first game to enjoy Oxenfree II, and it’s a game that’s full of mystery and intrigue, guided by well-realised characters.