Oxenfree 2: Lost Signals Review
Oxenfree was a unique title that combined supernatural elements with relatable, down-to-earth characters. With its sequel, Lost Signals, the game aims to build on the unsettling atmosphere that resides on Edwards Island to tell an audacious story that explores time travel, family and a world-threatening event. Will Oxenfree 2 manage to merge its many elements into a cohesive and coherent tale?
You play as Riley, an environmental researcher, who has returned to her hometown after years away. As it’s your first day on the job, you are assigned a simple, routine task of planting transmitters across Camena. With your partner, an ex-schoolmate, you travel across the island and soon discover that a multitude of factors are affecting the very fabric of the universe and could result in a catastrophic conclusion. This leads to a thrilling adventure that manages to expertly balance its high-concept premise with believable, grounded personalities. Although it’s a standalone tale, references and links to the original exist. Without the knowledge of previous events, certain story beats won’t land the same and due to this, I recommend playing the predecessor prior to this exploit.
A Story to Tell
Elizabeth Saydah’s portrayal of Riley is exquisite. The nuances in her performance help to create a rounded character that you will instantly form a connection with. Sarcasm bleeds throughout her responses, however, glimpses of vulnerability also surface. This beckons you to learn about her background as you begin to piece together snippets of information to get a full picture of what she has been through. Dialogue choices are pivotal to this as they allow you to form relationships or remain distant. This helps to make each conversation feel important as you continually decide how to react to situations. In addition to conversational choices, you will also make large narrative decisions that shape the story. You are informed about the percentage of people who chose the range of options at the end of the adventure which incentives another trip.
Oxenfree 2: Lost Signals is a dialogue-heavy experience that requires your attention. A new walkie-talkie system allows you to speak the colorful cast of characters to gain further information. You can ask for advice, learn about mysteries on the island and much more. It’s a great system that allows you to delve into the world without shoehorning lore into the main objective. Night School Studios values its audience and allows them to decipher elements rather than spoon-feed aspects. The narrative purposely places you in a state of confusion while giving scraps of information that build intrigue. This is the ethos that permeates the entirety of the game and is truly rewarding due to it. It’s much more than a tale of ghosts, time travel and the supernatural, it’s also a touching story about life and relationships.
Time to Climb
Improvements in the gameplay are immediately evident. In addition to radio signals, there are light puzzles and climbing. Although not strictly open, the notion is palpable within the design. You can open your map and work out routes to your destination. This gives the opportunity to go different ways, explore locations and discover more stories. The climbing and jumping lack challenge and are merely there to accentuate the magnitude of the travel rather than offer platforming opportunities. As Oxenfree 2 improves a number of aspects, it’s a shame that it fails to capitalize on its new features. Comprehensive climbing segments and risk-centric platforming would improve the overall gameplay.
The melancholy air that festers in the universe can be accredited to the perfect combination of audio and visuals. Dark and muted tones contrast with neon colors to create a mystical air that lingers throughout. Landscapes are large with stunning vistas around every corner. Each character feels part of the world which helps to build an element of unity with the aesthetics. The synth soundtrack adds a delicious 80s aura to the adventure. It seamlessly creeps from the background to the foreground to heighten the intensity of emotive moments.
Oxenfree 2: Lost Signals is a beautifully told story that improves on the original. The structure is exciting and fosters intrigue in the multilayered narrative. Although Night School Studios does improve the gameplay, it fails to take advantage of these segments. Despite that, the wonderful art direction, intelligent narrative and relatable characters make this a memorable adventure.
*** A PlayStation 5 code was provided by the publisher ***
- Beautiful Art Direction
- Rich Story
- Gameplay Improvements
- Not For Fans of Story-based Games
- Can Get Confusing
- Basic Gameplay