Oxenfree 2: Lost Signals review - Weaker reception

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the moon over the bay on Oxenfree

2016’s Oxenfree is one of my favourite indie games of all time. Its phenomenally written teenage dialogue and intense creepiness grabbed my attention like few other games have.

The sequel to that adventure, Lost Signals, follows Riley and Jacob as they travel to Camena to investigate mysterious radio signals and place transmitters along the coastline. Of course, strange supernatural things start to happen, leaving the duo caught between a group of youngsters causing havoc and events that trigger things in their own lives.

If they complete the job they’ve been employed to do, everything should be okay, but they don’t know what’s around every corner of the wilderness they’re exploring.

A less impactful story than the original

I enjoyed Oxenfree 2’s story. Riley and Jacob are well written characters, and I was mostly invested in their story, but I didn’t find it as engaging from an emotional perspective as the first game’s tale.

The dialogue is very good, with almost every moment of exploration punctuated by a captivating conversation between the two leads. It’s just not as sharp and fun as the exchanges in the original Oxenfree. That’s likely due to the different topics Lost Signals’ leads chat about, and the fact that their reactions to things going wrong are a little more mature, but it means the quieter moments aren’t as interesting.

Riley and Jacob having a conversation in Oxenfree 2
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The main story of portals being opened in Camena, leading Riley and Jacob to be tasked with closing them, is great. However, various other strands are added to the story as it progresses and I gradually became a little lost. There are the personal lives of probably seven or eight characters to learn, some of which are only told over walkie talkie, and it’s just a little tough to care about memorising them all while the world is seemingly falling apart.

As I said, though, Oxenfree 2’s story is still good. It just doesn’t hit the heights that the first game did as it tries to juggle adding new characters and introducing a few too many plot lines.

The tale of two characters struggling with the direction of their lives - having a mid or quarter-life crisis if you will - will resonate with some people, and it’s well told, I just found those characters’ personalities too inconsistent to really connect with them.

Excellent tension building

On the other hand, the supernatural moments that the series is built around are still just as phenomenal. Screen-shaking, jump cuts, screeching radios, and intense musical crescendos all really add to the creepy atmosphere.

Very few games give me goosebumps quite like Oxenfree 2 does when its horror aspects begin to ramp up. Without relying on jump scares, Lost Signals manages to keep you on edge at all times. As Riley and Jacob are wandering through Camena, everything could change in a fraction of a second, and you never know when the next big tonal shift is coming. It’s that constant tension that serves as Oxenfree 2’s biggest strength.

Camena is gorgeous

Speaking of wandering through Camena, exploration still forms the majority of Oxenfree 2’s gameplay. There are nine walkie talkie channels to talk to different people on, with how you interact with each person having a tangible effect on the way the story concludes, as well as radios for you to tune in order to solve puzzles and lots of backtracking to do, this time with added climbing.

The portal and radio in Oxenfree 2
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A few of the puzzles towards the end of the game are phenomenally designed, with one in particular, which involves changing the year on the other side of a portal using a character’s mysterious devices, being especially fun. I just wish there were more of them early on in the game, with the first few hours being made up of little more than walking around and chatting.

That said, Camena is a gorgeous environment to wander around, the game’s dark and mystical atmosphere adding an extra dimension to its general creepiness. One section in particular, which sees a massive moon join the backdrop, is jaw dropping.

Too much loading

Unfortunately, the exploration is ruined by Oxenfree 2’s loading screens. The loading times themselves aren’t egregious, at only four or five seconds each time, they just come about so often. Every time you travel between different sections of Camena, the game loads what’s next. If you’re traveling to a specific place, that can mean upwards of five separate loading screens to endure in order to get somewhere, with them sometimes popping up once every 10 to 20 seconds or so.


They break up conversations (although most lines of dialogue continue or restart once a loading screen passes) and make it hard to stay engaged with some of Riley and Jacob’s more personal chats. Also, when some of the world is a little hard to navigate, they make getting lost even more frustrating.

The fact that I’m already thinking about returning to Camena to see how Lost Signals’ other endings play out and how my choices affect things in different ways tells me I did enjoy its story, I just didn’t find Riley and Jacob particularly interesting or their story particularly emotional. At least not in comparison to Alex and her friends’ in the original Oxenfree.

The characters and writing aren’t as strong as they are in the original, but Oxenfree 2: Lost Signals still tells an interesting story that’s punctuated by some truly intense and creepy moments.

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