Oxenfree II: Lost Signals is developer Night School Studio’s sequel to its critically acclaimed game Oxenfree. While I never played the previous title, the game was praised for its cast and storytelling. After playing through Oxenfree II, I can confidently say that Its story is one of the best parts of the game, but is an element that also works against its favor sometimes.
Oxenfree II follows new protagonist Riley Pooverly, a young woman who returns to her hometown of Camena after a long time of avoiding several personal issues. However, upon her return, Riley encounters new types of problems she didn’t expect as new anomalous events begin to occur in Camena. An enormous rift suddenly appears out of nowhere, a mysterious cult surfaces, radio waves cause chaos, and some hidden memories are brought back to light. It’s up to Riley the town’s newly recruited environmental ranger, and her partner Jacob to investigate the cause of these mysterious events and put a stop to the danger that threatens the fate of her hometown.
Oxenfree II’s story is the most interesting part of the game. The narrative, or, at the very least, its concept, is crafted expertly. The game takes the time to not only emphasize the gravity of the mysterious rift, but also highlight its albeit limited cast. It shows what makes characters who they are and why, in a reasonable manner through several sections showing their past and memories. However, while I enjoyed these segments for the most part, as the player progresses the game, they will continue to be bombarded with these scenes, several of which in a highly jarring way. For example, there will be several moments where players will face anomalous puzzles or moments where they need to quickly escape an area, and in between trying to figure out what to do and how to do it, they’ll also have to deal with confusing flashes of Riley’s past, which would’ve been better appreciated outside these tense moments.
In contrast, the game’s characters, specifically the dynamic duo that is Riley and Jacob, really shine in relaxed moments as the dialogue between the two characters is one of the most enjoyable dialogues I’ve listened to in a video game. This is partly because the voice actors do an incredible job of portraying these characters in a shockingly realistic way with minimal cheesy or unnecessary lines (there were still a few here and there). Every character is voiced really well, and they’re all endearing in their own ways but have obvious good and bad traits.
In terms of gameplay, players will explore the entire town of Camena throughout the game, scaling walls, exploring caves, and rummaging through empty buildings. They’ll also occasionally come across puzzles linked to narrative moments. Unfortunately, most of these are incredibly simplistic and involve turning dials on your radio to get the right frequency or turning multiple dials on a device that occasionally spawns to get a single frequency to line up and turn into a desired shape. These puzzles are less challenging and more time-consuming, and I never really felt smart or accomplished solving them. When not solving puzzles, players will also occasionally discuss with locals, colleagues, and strangers on their trusty walkie-talkie while exploring Camena, through multiple dialogue options, which players can use to either make Riley act like an absolute villain or a thoughtful and understanding person.
Other than that, Oxenfree II is also visually impressive. While character models aren’t all that detailed and are barely visible due to the game’s perspective and aesthetic, a lot of effort was put into the game’s environments and backgrounds. The art direction is incredibly picturesque, with many atmospheric landscapes, highly immersive levels, a great soundtrack, and impeccable sound design. The only issue I had with these levels was how tedious they sometimes were to traverse. To accurately navigate from one location to another, players will occasionally have to stop and pull up their map, and because there are no waypoints, markers, or a minimap, you’ll have to do this constantly, especially when heading to a new location, which can get frustrating very fast.
Overall, despite being held back by neglected gameplay elements and an overeager narrative, Oxenfree II still offers an enjoyable experience thanks to its great characters, engaging story, and alluring visuals. Though a bit different from the first game, fans will still find much to love with this sequel, and new players will have plenty to appreciate.
Abdul Saad is an avid gamer and computer scientist. He's been writing for four years on news, reviews, previews, and more on multiple gaming sites. When he isn't writing or playing the latest JRPG, he can be found coding games of his own or tinkering with something electrical.
Oxenfree II: Lost Signals
Despite being held back by neglected gameplay elements and an overeager narrative, Oxenfree II: Lost Signals still offers an enjoyable experience.