The original Oxenfree was a brilliant experience. Whenever an indie game I love has a sequel announced, I’ve become skeptical thanks to the massive disappointment of Hotline Miami 2. Despite there being amazing sequels like Rogue Legacy 2 and even Risk of Rain 2 or Spelunky 2, there’s a part of my brain that thinks a Hotline Miami 2 might happen. Thankfully, Night School and Netflix delivered in spades with Oxenfree II: Lost Signals (Free). I’ve been playing it for review on iOS, Steam Deck, and Nintendo Switch over the last week or so, and definitely think it was worth the wait, despite not actually thinking we needed a sequel before.
Oxenfree II: Lost Signals, is a standalone sequel to Oxenfree: Netflix Edition, but given both games are now included in Netflix Games, I’d still recommend playing the original first. Having context and expectations from the first game definitely shaped my experience in Oxenfree II: Lost Signals, and I ended up appreciating it a lot more. Even if you aren’t a fan of paying for a subscription to play games, the original Oxenfree is often dirt cheap on PC and consoles, and is absolutely worth checking out.
Oxenfree II: Lost Signals is set half a decade after the first game. The opening hour felt very weird in a good way as I played more as Riley, the protagonist of this game. It kind of felt like coming back to an old vacation home that somehow is creepier and bigger than before. That holds true for most of Oxenfree II: Lost Signals. Everything here is bigger than the original, and things feel more polished overall. The voice acting is superb, visuals amazing, and music everything I wanted. There are some downsides though, and they involve backtracking. Oxenfree II: Lost Signals‘s vibe is immaculate, and while the puzzles were simpler than I expected even coming from the first game, I loved seeing the characters over the course of the six or so hours I spent to see it through to the end. There is some replay value, but the slow-paced gameplay made replaying it a bit annoying.
I ended up liking Oxenfree II: Lost Signals more than the original in many ways thanks to its cast. Just like the studio, Oxenfree II: Lost Signals feels like a more mature story despite the supernatural and thriller elements. This also applies to the visuals and scope that feel bigger and better. The flashbacks, interactions with other NPCs, and narrative all come together very well. I mentioned the opening hour feeling weird in a good way, but the opening bits should’ve been paced better. The later parts of Oxenfree II: Lost Signals ended up carrying the narrative where I wanted. Night School definitely needs to do another game, and I’m glad to wait half a decade more to see how a potential Oxenthree would end up being. While I didn’t get on with Night School’s Afterparty, Oxenfree II: Lost Signals feels like a return to form for the studio.
Playing Oxenfree II: Lost Signals across multiple devices has also been interesting. It runs and looks amazing on Steam Deck and newer iOS devices. On Nintendo Switch and also on iPhone, some of the larger portions of the games with a zoomed-out camera can cause some visual issues, but this isn’t a problem on Steam Deck or iPad. On the visual side, Oxenfree II: Lost Signals looks excellent on Steam Deck and iOS, but is a bit blurry on Nintendo Switch. The performance on Switch is also not as nice as modern iOS devices or Steam Deck, but it gets the job done for the game. The load times are my main complaint with the Switch version right now.
On the controls side, Oxenfree II: Lost Signals on iOS supports full touch or controllers. I played with my DualSense on iPad and touch controls on iPhone. Both worked as they should. Oxenfree II: Lost Signals even showed me PlayStation button prompts on my iPad when I used my DualSense controller. The Switch version also includes touchscreen support which is how I spent most of my time with it in handheld mode. On Steam Deck, you can use touch controls to simulate mouse input. Speaking of Steam Deck, despite not being Steam Deck Verified, Oxenfree II: Lost Signals runs perfectly. If you want the best portable experience and don’t want to play it through a subscription service, I’d recommend playing it on Steam Deck.
Barring the backtracking and some issues with the camera, my only problems with Oxenfree II: Lost Signals have to do with how I ran into a few bugs with the dialogue boxes or some tutorial tooltips glitching out and remaining on screen longer than they should. Everything else was polished and great. If you didn’t like Oxenfree, I don’t think Oxenfree II: Lost Signals will click with you, but it is worth trying out in Netflix for sure.
I did end up using the larger font option while playing. The default size feels built for playing on a monitor while the larger one worked better for portable play. Since I’ve now played Oxenfree II: Lost Signals on Steam Deck, iPad Pro, iPhone, and Nintendo Switch, I’m going to replay it in a few months on PS5 to see if Night School did anything interesting with the DualSense controller there.
Oxenfree II: Lost Signals on mobile is my favorite way to play it. Not only did Night School do a great port that feels perfect on iPad, but it also looks and runs nicer than the Switch version. Having now played Oxenfree II: Lost Signals on Steam Deck, iPhone, iPad Pro, and Nintendo Switch, Night School and Netflix exceeded my expectations, and I hope it gets a physical release so I can add it to my Nintendo Switch collection alongside the physical release of the first game. This is Netflix’s best original addition to its games subscription since Poinpy, and one of my favorite mobile games of 2023.