Oxenfree 2: Lost Signals accessibility
Oxenfree 2: Lost Signals keeps the unsettling atmosphere from the first game with new paranormal twists! The acccessibility of the PC version is helped by great mouse controls, making exploring seamless for players with fine-motor skill impairments despite a map that's not always easy to navigate.
- Sound is not required to experience the story
- Mouse or keyboard can be used interchangeably
- No repeated button presses
- Subtitle customization
- OpenDyslexia font is available
- Map locations aren't consistent
- Non-adjustable strobing effects
Oxenfree 2: Lost Signals is a narrative-driven point-and-click horror game developed by Night School Studio and published by Netflix Games. It was released for mobile devices, Windows, Nintendo Switch, Playstation 4, and Playstation 5. Despite a few serious bugs, the accessibility of Oxenfree 2 provided a thoroughly accessible experience.
Oxenfree 2: Lost Signals is a sequel to the 2016 indie game, now with new features and an expanded map. Players will control the main character, Riley, and be accompanied by another character named Jacob. The main objective is to traverse the mountainous region of the island. Placing transmitters in certain locations to close the mysterious portals plaguing the town. Just like in the original game, players must choose dialog options throughout the game. These choices will change the outcome of the ending.
Title Screen and Options Menu
This game went with a minimalistic approach to the options menu, having only a handful of features, but they were significant nonetheless. After the title screen, I could start a new game, access Settings, or view Content Warnings.
The Settings tab included sections for controls, sound, video, and game (the tab labeled “Game” includes all the accessibility options of Oxenfree 2). This tab offers options for subtitle sizes, fonts, and languages. Oxenfree 2 automatically has subtitles turned on, so players need not worry about missing dialog at the start of the game.
Mouse Controls Done Right
Once I was able to fully experience the game, I was pleasantly surprised by how simple and intuitive the mouse controls were. On PC, Oxenfree 2 doesn’t have remappable controls and I prefer to play with a mouse. However, players have the option to use just the mouse, keyboard, or a combination of the two.
Just like the original game, Oxenfree 2 has characters moving from a 2.5D perspective. Sometimes it wasn’t always clear what part of the trails and background I could interact with. But this never hindered exploration.
I can happily say that every aspect of the game, including interacting with objects, moving, dialog choices, the map, collectables, and pausing the game can be done with the mouse. Repeated button presses are never required.
Left-clicking anywhere in the terrain tells Riley where to move, and it works pretty seamlessly even when changing directions. For example after clicking on the side of a mountain, Riley automatically started climbing. Then I clicked on the trail below and she immediately moved in that direction. This gave me the freedom to relax and focus on the dialog when exploring the map.
Oxenfree 2 has players utilize an old radio and walkie-talkie to solve puzzles and intercept conversations. There were icons for both of these tools on the top right-hand corner of the screen. The map and pause menu icons are located on the top left-hand side. Every feature in the game can be accessed by left-clicking on the icon.
It felt easy to switch between the radio and walkie-talkie with the mouse. I was also able to change radio stations with the mouse scroll wheel. A highlight for me was accidentally stumbling upon a secret channel on the radio by moving the scroll wheel. Oxenfree 2 also has controller support for those who prefer it.
Searching the island, I found collectables in the form of Maggie Adler’s letters (an elderly eccentric from the first game who has knowledge of the supernatural happenings). Just like other interactable objects, letters have a bright visual indicator, as well as question mark icons above them. Finding them isn’t necessary, but players will need to collect them all if they want to get certain endings.
It was sometimes awkward for me to find where I was on the map. Not everywhere on the map corresponds to real locations in the game, so some transitions between areas seemed jarring. Thankfully, I never had to worry about missing dialog when trying to get somewhere quickly. Oxenfree 2 has icons that appear above characters heads to indicate the conversation will continue in the next area.
Looking Between Dimensions
Although most areas in the game are visibly bright, there’s a contrast slider available for adjusting in the settings menu. The game utilizes sound and visuals in a way that will benefit players with visual impairments.
Players can tune the radio and listen for a clearer sound. There are alternating colors on the dial that can equally work as a guide. Oxenfree 2 automatically color codes speaker names, as well as dialog options. There’s no colorblind mode, but items are never differentiated by color.
The only issue I have with the visual accessibility of Oxenfree 2 is that there isn’t an option to reduce strobing effects. Many moments in the game have time distortions, indicated by flashing lights and pulsating visual flair. To be clear, it wasn’t frequent, but I noticed them much more during the last half of the game.
Subtitles and Auditory Anomalies
Oxenfree 2 doesn’t require players to hear sounds at all to play the game. Every sound effect is also accompanied by a visual indicator, from radio stations to creepy ghost whispers. All the voice acting is fully subtitled, including background dialog. There’s even text for contextual meaning in conversations.
Subtitles can be resized in the settings menu, with the option to choose between the default font and large. The game sports up to 32 subtitle languages. Text appears bold with a nice dark background behind every line of dialog. Customizing subtitles also changes conversation bubbles, item text, and menu text. There’s also a dyslexic-friendly font available that’s labeled as “Alt Font”.
Individual sound levels can be adjusted for dialog, music, and sound effects. However, I did notice some odd bugs with the sound levels. Riley’s voice would specifically get much louder off and on in the last few hours of the game, seemingly for no reason. It didn’t last long, but I thought it was worth mentioning.
Oxenfree 2: Lost Signals has a solid narrative, keeping the unsettling atmosphere from the first game with new paranormal twists! The PC version of Oxenfree 2 has great mouse controls improving the accessibility for players with fine-motor skill impairments. The game’s map isn’t always easy to navigate. However, deaf players will not be encumbered because audio cues are not necessary to play.