Oxenfree didn’t need a sequel. The supernatural campfire tale of troubled teens stumbling across a ghostly rift is a gripping, self-contained horror story. But the moment Oxenfree II: Lost Signals was revealed, I realised some of the threads a sequel could explore, and got excited all over again about spelunking through haunted caves and getting to know a fresh cast of unwitting paranormal investigators. While a brief hands-off presentation can’t say how much of a sequel Lost Signals is, it does make one thing very clear: Oxenfree II expands on the original in every way.
You play as Riley Poverly, an environmental researcher who returns to her home town of Camena – just a stone’s throw away from Edwards Island, the first game’s setting – to investigate strange radio transmissions. Within the first hour she encounters a cult called Parentage, who are attempting to reopen the time portals from the first game in order to pull something out – something of great value to them. There’s no tiptoeing around the subject, or gentle teasing that something supernatural might be going on; Riley starts right in the thick of a Stranger Things-style interdimensional struggle.
There’s more at stake, certainly, but as you traipse through abandoned mining facilities and labyrinthine caves, Riley and her timid companion Jacob will fill the airwaves with endless chatter. Sometimes it’s about the mysterious goings-on, sometimes about their friends, sometimes about themselves, and very often about nothing at all.
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