Oxenfree 2: Lost Signal Review
need to know
what is it? That kind of horror game that is not very scary is very suitable for people who don’t like horror but like to go to Halloween parties.
Estimated payment: $20/£19
release date: July 12
Developer: night school studio
Comment date: Windows 10, Ryzen 9 5900X, 32GB memory, RTX 3080
multiplayer game? No
Association: Official website
When I really care about game characters, I stop walking when they start spontaneous character-building dialogue because I worry that I might cross some invisible line, triggering more plot-critical dialogue to cover it. What if I never hear the end of the story Gallus told Lilala? This is unimaginable. While I don’t dislike the chatty teens stranded on a weird island in 2016’s original Oxenfree, I never stop to listen to them chat.
Part of it is that they return to important topics after being interrupted, with seamless “like I said” narration. Mainly because they say so much and so little, I never felt like I was at risk of not hearing the things I cared about. If trains come every five minutes, you won’t have to worry about missing one.
(Image source: Netflix)
Oxenfree 2: Lost Signals is about grown-ups, and that changes everything. It’s still a game of criss-crossing a haunted 2.5-dimensional slice of the Pacific Northwest (by clicking where you want to go or holding down the move key, this isn’t a platformer) while regularly tuning your radio to Eerie Dead People Talk Shit 102.1 FM. You see, something strange is going on in the town of Kamena, and you’ve been hired to place transmitters at certain locations in the nearby countryside to investigate anomalous radio signals.
Only this time, instead of worrying about whether girls think they’re cool, the characters are haunted by ghosts or time travelers — or possibly both, depending on how the wavelength breaks down. (Though one of them was equally amused by the communication tower named after Richard Harden.) One of the nice things about Oxenfree 2’s dealing with adults is that, when it launched, there were no more people on the internet. It will be full of chattering topics from middle-aged people. Does it accurately represent the way teens “really” talk. Another advantage is that its characters are less likely to disturb each other.
The dialogue system is Oxenfree’s most notable feature, simulating the way kids yell at each other in movies like The Goonies. No one stops babbling for you to consider which of the three responses to choose, and you never know if the player character Alex will wait until her friends finish saying what they said, or immediately interrupt them to say something of her own . Add that to the fact that if you don’t select an answer in time, the reaction fades quickly and the conversation turns into a minefield of stressful decisions.
This is exactly what you felt when you were a teenager. Even though I didn’t end up caring as much about the individuals in Oxenfree as I did about any particular alien in Mass Effect, I ended up investing in my own embarrassing attempts to impress them.
In “Oxenfree 2,” Riley, the main character, if not always mature, is a full adult, and she’s had a lot longer to consider her options. She also rarely bothers others. Oxenfree 2 gives you a walkie-talkie that lets you do Sorkin-esque walk-and-talk even when you’re alone, and you have to wait for people to say “over” before it’s your turn, because that’s how they work.
(Image source: Netflix)
A walkie-talkie is a neat way to allow you to fill in the quiet void. If you need to hear a friendly voice when climbing a cliff (something else that works better now, when you click away from a wall or ladder, Riley is less likely to re-climb the wall or ladder than Alex), You flog the walkie-talkie – get on the phone with one of the others handling the latest mysterious anomaly in the area and check out the situation. I mostly talk to park rangers, sailors, and my fellow environmental researchers who all have their own storylines and add to the sense that paranormal things are happening all over the world and we can all help each other deal with our little bit of it of.
However, I did miss being friends with a radio DJ, probably because I wasn’t listening to her at the right time. So yes, it’s still possible to miss something. As with the first game, I recommend turning subtitles on so you don’t forget what people are saying when eerie static starts creeping in or the sound dies on loading screens. At one point, I stopped at the edge of the screen rather than go into the cave because I didn’t want to miss some dialogue, and a helpful note appeared telling me the conversation would continue. Later, as the sailor talks about inexplicable nautical oddities, I confidently cross the screen chasm, only to be interrupted by the ringing payphone, never knowing what he’s going to say. The system is still not perfect, but it’s definitely better.
(Image source: Netflix)
Oxenfree and its sequels are important because they’re the kind of horror games that fill a major void, because they’re not really horror games at all. They have some weird stuff in them, but in a “may contain traces of nuts” kind of way, which means you can safely recommend them to people who profess not to like horror games but really just don’t like gore and horror games people. Feel scared to be alive.
While I love horror and replaying the shit and giggles from Silent Hill 2, I appreciate this in-between area, where it’s more about feeling low-key off-kilter than experiencing body horror or cosmic horror. This is where a game is more likely to be surprising. When Oxenfree 2 actually delivers on it, it’s creepy when it starts to subvert your expectations. The way the characters are thrown around like broken dolls is strangely unsettling – those tall, skinny characters with sprawled limbs are wrong – and every time I adjust the knob and tune to 93FM, all the ghosts I get real chills at predicting your future.
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