must play OXENFREE II Lost Signals is a Perfectly Tuned Sequel

Taking place 5 years after the events of the first game, OXENFREE II: Lost Signals pulls players back into the haunted world of 2016’s OXENFREE. Over the course of one fateful night, environmental researcher Riley Poverly and fix-it-man Jacob Summers partner up to investigate some strange radio frequencies. But as they trek across the empty town of Camena, they uncover a secret plot involving a cult-like group called Parentage, whose sole aim is to open an interdimensional portal above Edwards Island.

As someone who absolutely loved OXENFREE, I had exceedingly high expectations for Lost Signals, but I wasn’t sure a sequel could hold a candle to the brilliance of the first game. OXENFREE was unlike anything I had played before: the art style was unique, the music was sublime, and the characters were captivating as you walked around and made conversation. As the main character, Alex, your choices directly shaped the game. How you responded to characters would not only build up or break down your relationships, it also affected the game’s narrative.

Nothing was ever as it seemed in OXENFREE. Things just felt… off, and that sense of unease felt more devoted because of the choices you were allowed to make (and the… things you would hear and do with the radio…). These narrative and game mechanics were expertly honed by developer Night School Studio to create one of the most horrifically fun and satisfying adventure games of the last decade.

The bar was set high for a sequel, but Night School managed to vault over it with OXENFREE II: Lost Signals, a game that manages to one-up its predecessor in just about every way imaginable. From the impeccable level design and the drop dead gorgeous art direction, to the improved animation and refined visuals, you can tell a metric ton of love and care and effort went into this sequel. The trailers and screenshots really don’t do the game justice. It’s a wonder to behold.

And, much to my surprise and delight, Lost Signals does an awesome job connecting to the story of the first game, too. Even though Edwards Island is no longer the setting, it is the focal point of Lost Signals. It’s almost always visible in the distance as Riley and Jacob traverse the mainland to set up transmitters to close the source of the secret radio frequencies – aka, the portal being opened above Edwards Island.

The events of the first game are also briefly touched upon in Lost Signals: namely when Jacob mentions to Riley that something involving portals happened to a bunch of teenagers a few years back, and when he shares that he was friends with Maggie Adler before she died, the former WWII comms officer who dedicated her life to research the supernatural radio wave portals. But even with this connective tissue, Lost Signals is less of a direct sequel and more like the next chapter of an anthology within the OXENFREE universe.

You don’t need to have played the first game to enjoy Lost Signals, but you will be rewarded for that knowledge if you have. Lost Signals deepens the lore of OXENFREE in some unexpected ways – from learning more about the Sunken Crew of the USS Kanaloa to uncovering more of Maggie Adler’s research – but it also does an incredible job at standing on its own two feet. The game is not concerned about how much or how little you know about the previous game or the history of Edwards Island. It wants you to be rooted in the moment, to be invested in the characters on the screen now more than the ones that came before

You don’t need to have played the first game to enjoy Lost Signals, but you will be rewarded for that knowledge if you have. Lost Signals deepens the lore of OXENFREE in some unexpected ways – from learning more about the Sunken Crew of the USS Kanaloa to uncovering more of Maggie Adler’s research – but it also does an incredible job at standing on its own two feet. The game is not concerned about how much or how little you know about the previous game or the history of Edwards Island. It wants you to be rooted in the moment, to be invested in the characters on the screen now more than the ones that came before

It’s a super intuitive system that makes you feel like you’re not only listening to, but also participating in a real conversation. The game also does a good job of restarting or resuming a conversation if you interrupt the dialogue by interacting with something in the environment. Riley will comment on whatever it is, and then Jacob will resume his chatter – but he’s not the only chatterbox in this game! At the very start of the game, you are startled awake by one of the environmental researchers on your walkie talkie, a woman named Evelyn. She quickly teaches you how to use the walkie, explains your objective to place the transmitters, and points you in the direction of your partner, Jacob.

Through the words and actions of these characters, the game is constantly questioning what it means to live the “right” or “best” life, how our choices shape reality, all while examining the legacies we leave behind – both intentional and unintentional. Beneath the game’s cosmic horrors and supernatural trappings is a root of existentialism that slowly winds its way around your soul, daring you to re-evaluate your own life, examine your own choices and relationships.

OXENFREE II: Lost Signals challenges you to just be present, here, in this moment. You can’t change the past, and the future is too far out of reach. But you can be here, right now. For yourself, your friends, your family – even your pets.