OXENFREE was a game that took critics and the public by storm when it first hit the scene back in 2016. It was a fresh concept, and an adventure that was relatable and filled with wonder. With OXENFREE II: Lost Signals hitting PCs and consoles sometime in 2022, CGMagazine got a chance to see a bit of the game, along with hear how the developers are working to bring the sequel to life. While still a ways away from release, there is plenty to love with what the team at Night School Studio are doing, it is time to get excited about OXENFREE all over again.
Set five years after the events of the first game, OXENFREE II: Lost Signals features an all-new set of characters and a supernatural mystery-thriller story that will change with the choices you make throughout the game. Players will play as Riley Poverly, an environmental researcher who has returned to her hometown of Camena to investigate mysterious radio signals causing problems with electrical equipment throughout the town. As she looks into the signals, she soon finds a history of ghosts and the paranormal on nearby Edwards Island.
It is a fun setup, and one that will quickly transport players to a new story set in the Oxenfree universe. While we only got to see a fraction of what players can experience, it looks to capture the core of what made the first instalment so engaging. The short demo shows the basics, which seem easy to understand, and it gives us enough to understand the characters. The back and forth explores their comradery and that instantly gives a taste of whom these people are, and what they struggle with.
“OXENFREE II: Lost Signals features an all-new set of characters and a supernatural mystery-thriller story that will change with the choices you make throughout the game.”
Early in the six-minute demo, the two characters, Riley and her friend Jacob, talk about fears, and play a one-word story game to get over the struggles of exploring the mine they find themselves in. The quick segment gives a sense of who they are, but also how they feel about each other. It is a small segment, but one that works to help us sympathize and understand the characters.
Beyond that, the new mechanics of time and rifts are a new and engaging way to understand the world of OXENFREE. As you go through the rifts in the world, you are transported to the past, giving a way to get past currently impossible obstacles and see what caused the issues in the first place.
In the demo, we got to see a puzzle where Riley and Jacob need to get past an elevator segment with one of them needing to stay to operate the lift. It is here we see how traversal will play a part in puzzle solving, but also how the actions taken by Riley potentially lead to the mine collapse the current timeline needs to deal with.
Graphically, OXENFREE II: Lost Signals feels similar to the first instalment, while updating enough to make it feel modern and built for the current generation of consoles and PCs Lighting; effects and the overall look of the game feel familiar and refreshed. Characters emoted enough to give us a sense of their personal issues, while keeping the distinctly OXENFREE look that is iconic to the series.
The new touches and rifts all look fantastic, showing the menace they potentially pose, while still keeping the fun tone that makes everything relatable. Even the small effect of the distorted signal in the image is a great touch while in rifts, further hammering home the era of radio and CRT TV’S many of us still remember.
“Night School Studio knows how to create a great story, and from what they showed, OXENFREE II is no exception.”
The choices are still a part OXENFREE II, and present real game divergence depending on how you play. Like adventure games of old, you can choose between numerous dialog options at any major point, letting you decide how you want your game to play out. While not everything will be massive to the overall narrative, enough will help take you on a path you create, with the choices you make leading to potentially different outcomes. It is hard to say how this will work when the game finally launches, but the potential is exciting, especially with a story-based game like this one.
Night School Studio knows how to create a great story, and from what they showed, OXENFREE II is no exception. Bringing players back to this universe could have potentially been disastrous, especially when the first game is so loved, but from the story to the aesthetic, everything looks fantastic and has a unique feel all its own. We will have to reserve judgment until the game is officially released, but from everything they have shown, I am more excited than ever about once again visiting the mysterious world of OXENFREE.
OXENFREE II: Lost Signals is set to be released on PlayStation 5, PlayStation 4, Nintendo Switch, and PC sometime in 2022.