Oxenfree II: Lost Signals

 

 

 

 

 

 

Genre: Adventure   

Developer & Publisher: Night School Studio/Netflix              

Released: July 12, 2023               

Requirements: OS: 64-bit Windows 10

Processor:  Minimum, Intel Core i5-4570T or AMD equivalent; Recommended,

Intel Core i5 4670K or AMD FX-9370 or equivalent

Memory:  8 GB RAM

Graphics: Minimum, Nvidia GeForce GTX 650 1 GB or Radeon HD 7750 1 GB;

Recommended, Nvidia GeForce GTX 750 2 GB or Radeon R9 270X 2 GB

DirectX:  Version 11

Storage:  6 GB available space   

 

 

 

 

 

 

By flotsam

Oxenfree II: Lost Signals

Night School Studio/Netflix

Five years later in game time and about eight years later in the real world, we are back in Oxenfree. Or rather in Camena, from where the protagonists of the first game set sail, and in which Riley finds herself waking at a bus stop after a bit of glitchy weirdness. The walkie-talkie has roused her, and Evelyn welcomes her to her first day on the job. She fills Riley in on what that job is, something to do with transmitters and disruptions in the electromagnetic spectrum. First thing to do is get her gear from the General Store.

She soon encounters Jacob, who will be her companion throughout the game. She knew him in High School, this being her old hometown, and their interactions throughout the game is one of its strengths.

If you played the first game you will know what to expect. There is a lot that will be familiar in terms of the look and feel and how it all works, plus some narrative linkages as well. That familiarity isnít necessary though in order to enjoy about 8-10 hours of rambling across the island, running across and then into some distinctly supernatural goings-on.

Like the earlier game, conversations are a big part of Lost Signals, developing both the broader story itself and the backgrounds of the characters. Quite a few of them occur via your walkie-talkie, and you can be as loquacious as it suits you. Use the walkie-talkie to regularly check in on people or just answer it when it squawks (or perhaps not even then), chat with Jacob or cut him short, be terse or charming or donít answer at all; its up to you.

I liked this aspect, and while a couple of times I had to stand around waiting for Jacob to finish his story, I generally felt in control. The dialogue is well written, exceptionally well acted, and puts a lot of meat on the bones of your experience. Riley generally has three dialogue options available to her when having a conversation, presented in little speech bubbles above her head. Choose one, or donít choose any and drive things as suits you. Importantly, each possible response felt contextually valid, like something Riley (or your construct of Riley) might say.

Riley and Jacob are older than the teenage characters we played in the earlier game, a point of difference that allows for a whole bunch of different stuff to be canvassed as they traverse the island. You exclusively play Riley, but might be following Jacob or leading the way, depending. Use the WASD keys to get around, or point and click, an added (at least as far as I can recall) element that means you can watch as Riley rappels and jumps and climbs her way from here to there, rather than doing it yourself.

I confess I liked the use of keyboard (there is no timing or actiony-ness involved; interacting with the icon will have her perform the necessary action) as it felt like it gave me more engagement with the side-scrolling zoomed out perspective. Having said that, there were times when rather than e.g., maneuver her up a cliff face, I just clicked the top and let her do her own thing.

As well as a walkie-talkie, which is only a mouse click away, you also have a radio, used to tune into various frequencies and which is involved in much of the puzzling. Open and close portals, unlock Ďradioí locks, or perhaps just listen and learn stuff. I doubt I got the full use possible out of either the radio or the walkie-talkie, despite spending a fair bit of time using both.

I did think the rather random nature of just twiddling a dial to solve some puzzles left a bit to be desired (especially once you get the expanded radio and have so many more frequencies available), but it was a small thing in the overall scheme of things.

You have a map which will help you get around the island, and which will show the exits from each scene (i.e., the points at which the scene will stop moving around as you explore and a new one will load). It will also generate an autosave, useful to know as you canít save manually. A notebook attached to the map keeps track of certain things. They are again just a mouse click away.

There is no inventory, although you will acquire things, ropes being among the most useful (and never ending). At some point through the game collectibles become available, letters you can find that will further add to the tale.

Finding the letters isnít compulsory, nor is doing a number of tasks you might come across. There will be a point near the end of the game though where you will be told that if there are things that you still need/want to do, do them now. That is your cue for e.g., finding the rest of the letters or perhaps retrieving that blue backpack you didnít bother looking for at the time. Again its entirely up to you but what you canít do is come back once you pass that point and fill in any Ďgapsí in your endeavours.

The broader tale is a spooky-tinged one, involving spirits and lost submariners, visions and portals, a strange religious group and some angsty teenagers. It provided a good counterpoint to what emerges through the conversations between Riley and Jacob, the details of their lives and their regrets and their hopes. As the prime character we get to know a whole lot more about Riley, and I confess to liking her rather a lot.

The choices you make throughout the game and the relationships you develop Ė were you nice to that person in your earlier interaction? Ė affect how things play out. I also saved one person (and got a Steam trophy for doing so) and perhaps brought Nick home safely (would he have made it back anyway?). The endgame comes with a big choice, one that suggests there are three different endings. Regrettably you canít just go back and make a different choice to see how things play out. All you can do is start again, which I will do, but it would have been nice to have the option of winding things back to that particular point.  

There is a bit of time travelling plus some other inter-dimensional experiences, and the soundtrack lives up to its task. It looks good, in a watery coloured sort of way, and is similar enough and yet sufficiently different to the first game to satisfy those that want more of the same and those that like something else. As always, you might feel differently, but for me there is a lot to like in these Lost Signals.

I played on:

OS: Windows 10, 64 Bit

Processor: Intel i7-9700K 3.7GHz

RAM: Corsair Dominator Platinum RGB DDR4 32GB

Video card: AMD Radeon RX 580 8192MB

 

 

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