Oxenfree II: Lost Signals is quite creepy at times, using time loops, crackling radio static, and the occasional vengeful interdimensional ghost to keep you on your toes. Sure, there are moments of levity when the game’s characters crack jokes or dabble in a little fun but, like its 2016 predecessor, this dialogue-driven graphic adventure game delights in its unsettling atmosphere. The best parts of the experience are drowned out in the dreadful static of Oxenfree II’s unmemorable companion and irritating secondary antagonist, but navigating the game’s growing sense of unease as you slowly uncover clues to a greater mystery is an engaging and chilling thrill.
Taking place five years after the original game, Oxenfree II has you play as a new protagonist: Riley Poverly. Returning to her hometown of Camena–the part of the mainland closest to the first Oxenfree’s Edwards Island–Riley is partnered with the town’s resident handyman, Jacob Summers, and tasked to set up transmission radio towers around the coastal town. The seemingly simple job devolves into a much stranger and more dangerous situation, however, as electromagnetic waves take a toll on reality, opening portals to other timelines. As Riley and Jacob struggle to understand what’s happening and fix things, they find their efforts repeatedly thwarted by a trio of teenagers who are a part of Parentage, a church-like cult in the area, and lingering supernatural specters.
Like its previous games, developer Night School Studio utilizes both a choice- and timing-driven dialogue system, taking note of not only what you say but when you say it. Conversations don’t pause to give you a chance to figure out what to say next–like an actual conversation in real life, Riley will have to regularly respond to express interest. During conversations, small thought bubbles will appear above Riley’s head as people talk to her, giving you a chance to choose how you speak your mind. Wait too long and these dialogue branches eventually fade away, but speak up too soon and you may interrupt someone just before they absent-mindedly say something that creates a more compelling path in the conversation. In this way, saying nothing at all is just as valid a choice as saying something.
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