OXENFREE was met with overwhelming praise when it launched back in 2016. Fans and critics alike applauded the game's unique marriage of mysterious horror and choice-driven dialogue. It stood as an excellent coming-of-age story in a fascinatingly unconventional setting. Despite the success of the original and the cult following the title garnered since its release, I honestly wasn't expecting to see the sequel revealed at the Nintendo Indie World Showcase earlier this year.
The first trailer for OXENFREE II: Lost Signals was fairly cryptic, but I recently had the pleasure of attending a hands-off preview of the game, which allowed me to experience over 30 minutes of gameplay. At its core, this sequel seems to maintain many of the key elements fans loved about the original while expanding upon them in significant ways. Even after only seeing a small slice of this upcoming title, it's abundantly clear that OXENFREE II: Lost Signals aims to be bigger and more ambitious than its predecessor.
OXENFREE II: Lost Signals — A quick overview
OXENFREE II: Lost Signals takes place five years after the events of the original game. Set in the small coastal town of Camena, the story follows Riley as she returns to her hometown to investigate strange and seemingly unexplainable radio signals. Riley quickly learns that there's something far more sinister about these radio signals than she initially anticipated. A peculiar masked group of individuals called "Parentage" seem to be involved, and it's up to you to uncover the truth about their origins and ultimate plans.
Like the first OXENFREE, this sequel focuses on supernatural visions, tense horror, engaging dialogue, and gameplay mechanics involving time loops. OXENFREE II: Lost Signals is still dripping with the same gorgeous watercolor-esque art style and nostalgic droning synth music of the original game. These design choices go a long way in setting the tone of this universe. The heavy VHS-inspired film saturation and slightly faded color palette make this title feel like diving into a haunting time capsule. Developer Night School Studio has stressed that while there will be nods to the first entry, the events of OXENFREE II: Lost Signals exist as their own story.
OXENFREE II: Lost Signals — What's changing?
While OXENFREE II: Lost Signals doesn't seem to stray too far from the first game's formula, the mechanics, presentation, and production have all been expanded upon in meaningful ways. The multiple-choice dialogue system from OXENFREE is still an essential pillar of the gameplay in the sequel. However, the team wants to offer even more ways for players to communicate with the residents of this world. A newly introduced walkie-talkie system looks to deliver this in spades.
The walkie-talkie in OXENFREE II: Lost Signals allows the user to freely communicate with a large cast of characters at essentially any given moment. In OXENFREE, players could only interact with the characters with them during relatively fixed segments of the game. During this preview Night School Studio declared that the walkie-talkie is considered the biggest addition to the communication mechanic and explained how who you choose to talk to will actually impact your ending.
Another enormous change with OXENFREE II: Lost Signals is the overall scale and freedom provided with its new environments. Players will now be given multiple traversal options at crucial moments in the game that impact character dialogue and even affect certain puzzles. The sheer size of the locations I witnessed during this slice of gameplay looked drastically larger than anything I saw in the first entry.
While the original OXENFREE was quite linear, OXENFREE II: Lost Signals provides far more options for exploration. This horror sequel certainly shouldn't be considered "open-world." However, players have more options than ever before regarding how and when they complete particular objectives in the game. In combination with the potential for different endings, this flexibility will likely encourage multiple playthroughs in a way OXENFREE simply didn't.
The final noteworthy change in OXENFREE II: Lost Signals stems from the team's innovation with the series' time loop mechanic. During my preview, Night School Studio showcased a compelling puzzle that required Riley to venture into a time tear to repair a damaged mineshaft elevator. Time tears are natural fissures in the time-space continuum that allow players to revisit the past to alter the future. For me, it was exciting to see platforming and puzzle-solving elevated in such a tangible way.
OXENFREE II: Lost Signals — When and where can you play?
As it stands, there is no firm release date for OXENFREE II: Lost Signals. Night School Studio and MWM Interactive are currently targeting a 2022 release window. While many consider OXENFREE one of the best horror games on Xbox, OXENFREE II: Lost Signals will only be launching on PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Nintendo Switch, and PC.
When questioned about the possibility of OXENFREE II: Lost Signals coming to Xbox, the team stated that it was open to bringing the game to as many platforms as possible post-launch, but with Night School Studio doing all the port work in-house, they are currently prioritizing the listed platforms for the game's launch. It's clear that OXENFREE II: Lost Signals aims to provide more of what fans loved about the original game, so here's to hoping for an Xbox version down the road.
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Miles Dompier is a Freelance Video Producer for Windows Central, focusing on video content for Windows Central Gaming. In addition to writing or producing news, reviews, and gaming guides, Miles delivers fun, community-focused videos for the Windows Central Gaming YouTube channel. Miles also hosts Xbox Chaturdays every Saturday, which serves as the Windows Central Gaming weekly podcast.