It's been five years since the first Oxenfree (opens in new tab)—the story of a group of teenagers who accidentally disturb something ancient on an eerie island—and after a brief bar crawl through hell in Afterparty, developer Night School has returned to the spooky series with Oxenfree 2: Lost Signals (opens in new tab).
It follows closely in the footsteps of the first game. There's another spooky haunted island and more mysterious radio frequencies making the resident's electronic equipment go haywire. However, this time you play as Riley, an environmental researcher returning to her small hometown to investigate this unnatural phenomenon, and as she spends more time researching the signals she also begins to unveil the supernatural secret that the island holds.
I'm going to miss the teenage angst from the first game, but it looks like Night School has outgrown its coming-of-age mysteries since Lost Signals is set to tackle more mature themes steeped in horror, starting with the villains of the game, Parentage.
In the first game, the teens on Edward's Island unwittingly opened portals, but now on Camena, a masked group called Parentage are deliberately trying to access these gateways, harnessing the power of the portals to pull something through—exactly what that will be is a mystery for now. Parentage is using radio frequencies to carry out their plan and, although radios were your main guide in the first game, walkie-talkies take centre stage in Lost Signals.
The walkie-talkies in Oxenfree 2 are what I'm most excited about as they have the most potential to create incredibly creepy moments. Throughout your time on Camena you'll receive ghostly messages on your device from other residents affected by the island's supernatural anomalies, but you can often get mysterious calls from people you don't know who have tapped into the walkie-talkie's signal. The voices can ask for favours or just have a conversation but it's up to you whether you answer their calls or not. Though who could resist having a casual chinwag with a mysterious stranger?
The majority of the sneak peek was not on the island at all, but beneath the ground in a series of interconnected caverns. It's an hour into the game and Riley and Jacob are traversing the island's gloomy tunnels when they come across a 'time tear.' Using the same radio tuning system as the first game, Riley begins to open the tear which transports the two into 1899 when the caves were still being used as mines. It looks like hopping through different pockets of time will be an exciting new addition to the story although it's not entirely made clear whether they'll be getting caught up in the tangles of timelines, changing stuff and having a rummage, or just passing through.
Oxenfree's celebrated dialogue system stays completely intact, and the decisions you make in conversation will directly affect the game's story. One of these changes is with Riley's island-exploring partner and old high school acquaintance Jacob. Picking certain dialogue bubbles will impact how you both were in high school as well as the relationship between the two of you. Night School has also confirmed that there will be multiple endings to Lost Signals, saying that there are a range of combinations for outcomes, more than the original.
From the look of the preview, Oxenfree 2's visual style and atmosphere carry over relatively unchanged. Night School says that almost everyone from the original development team has returned to make this sequel which is why the island of Camena has the same gloomy ghost vibes of Edward Island. Traversing the island will also be more dangerous and Riley will have to choose different paths to take—try and jump across the rocky chasm, or try and find a safer but slower way around?
Oxenfree 2: Lost Signals looks to be another chilling and thrilling entry in the series. I'm all for more haunted technology and the walkie-talkies look to bring something eerily new to the game. Lost Signals is out sometime in 2022, and already feels like an adventure that'll leave you with major goosebumps.