If longtime followers of Oxenfree have considered leaping again into the journey on PC earlier than Oxenfree II’s release next year, they could be shocked to discover some radio transmissions they did not discover the primary time round. And if you happen to’re a type of gamers, don’t fret – you are not forgetting some key story beats or realizing you missed some essential conversations. Five years after its launch, Night School Studio has periodically been updating its acclaimed, unique choice-driven narrative with a collection of recent audio teases that straight tie into the villains of Oxenfree II.
It’s an bold gambit, however completely befitting of Oxenfree’s paranormal, meta-story. The villains of the upcoming sequel are so highly effective, or messing with forces which can be, that they are actually altering the material of the unique’s world and showing, at the very least audibly, the place they as soon as weren’t. Night School Studio has dipped into fourth-wall-breaking territory earlier than, however to discover out extra about this thrilling endeavor, I spoke with members of the Night School group about why they determined to bridge the video games like this, the way it prepares gamers for the sequel, and extra.
Some particulars could also be thought of spoilers for Oxenfree II, so flip again if you don’t need to know any particulars concerning the sequel forward of its launch. Otherwise, watch the brand new video beneath for extra on Oxenfree’s updates and the way they arrange the villains of Oxenfree II.
What Oxenfree’s Updates Hint at in Oxenfree II
A few updates to the Steam version of Oxenfree have already gone dwell, and followers have been piecing collectively what these radio broadcasts could be main towards. And as perceptive followers might have already realized, these broadcasts are providing perception into the world of the sequel’s villains, a collective group often known as Parentage. These broadcasts supply gamers who uncover them a little bit of characterization and background for these characters, whereas additionally displaying how vital a pressure they could be if their actions are reverberating via the unique recreation.
It’s a startling method, however one which the builders felt was completely pure to the world they’ve created and at the moment are constructing upon.
“The guidelines of the world, and the foundations of the universe, permits issues that occur sooner or later to reverberate into the previous, and vice-versa,” Studio Lead Writer Adam Hines instructed IGN.
“We wished to guarantee that we went deeper with it [than other ARGs], and made certain to honor the Night School pillars of actually robust characters, actually compelling dialogue, and good and scary as nicely,” Writer Adam Esquenazi Douglas added.
Screens – Oxenfree 2
In that sense, as Douglas defined, the radio updates being added for gamers to uncover are aimed to really feel like a whole story themselves, with a starting, center, and finish that ought to fulfill those that uncover all of them, whereas additionally providing depth to what’s to come within the sequel. And the group is extremely conscious of the challenges that include telling such a narrative, in such a peculiar approach, particularly in not wanting to spoil the expertise of the sequel, and in producing a narrative on this collection of transmissions that not all Oxenfree II gamers might expertise.
“We’re at all times very cautious about spoilers and never wanting to spoil the thriller side. That’s such an enormous chunk of why individuals play these kinds of video games is having the ability to actually dig in as a lot as they need,” Hines mentioned. “We landed in a very great spot of giving hints of intent, and giving hints that somebody is basically deliberately attempting to push their approach into what Alex and her pals unwittingly stumbled into in Oxenfree 1, and acquired caught in and had to take care of. Now, with Oxenfree II, we’re coping with a bunch that could be very particularly and deliberately attempting to uncover and uncover these items. And, poke at it and see what you are able to do with portals, time, and area.
“Of course it is all going to go horribly flawed. So, we get to see hints of that via these radio updates,” Hines continued. “This is supplying you with a way of who the quote-unquote unhealthy guys are going to be for Oxenfree II. And, then additionally if you begin to play Oxenfree II, and begin to push up in opposition to these characters and meet them, if you happen to’ve performed the radio replace journey from Oxenfree 1, hopefully that may really feel like you have already got a way of how they acquired to the place they’re.”
“There was by no means a transparent antagonist [in Oxenfree 1],” Studio Director Sean Krankel elaborated. “We’re dropping you into this bizarre thriller island, and you are going to have to unravel it. And, we did not assume we may try this once more this time, frankly. And, so introducing the antagonists in an attention-grabbing approach simply felt like a compelling, cool factor to do as a substitute of getting a trailer simply centered on them. Why not allow you to hear them doing their soiled work within the first recreation?”
That units the desk for gamers exploring these audio logs to have some fascinating perception into Parentage forward of Oxenfree II, however Night School was additionally very cognizant that not each participant who jumps into the sequel might have found and even heard these radio additions. In that sense the group labored laborious to make one thing rewarding for gamers, each within the act of discovering it and what it entailed, but additionally one thing that, must you miss out on this little bit of worldbuilding, will not hamper a participant’s expertise of the sequel.
Hearing the Future
As these updates are sound-based radio transmissions, they tie into a typical aspect of Oxenfree – its evocative sound design. So a lot of Oxenfree’s mood-setting got here via audio, whether or not or not it’s the voice appearing, the glitchy sound results of its supernatural-meets-real-world story, or the memorable rating by Composer Andy Rohrmann, aka scntfc. And as Rohrmann explains, these radio updates present additional methods for him to not solely play with what he is performed earlier than, however tie it into Oxenfree’s world in fascinating methods.
“Some [ways the score is integrated] are simply form of enjoyable musical tips. But, there’s additionally concepts of music which may present up within the radio performs is precise [Oxenfree] rating. But we’re utilizing it diegetically on this occasion. So…they break loads of these ideas of ‘What is the sport,'” Rohrmann defined.
These radio performs, and the connective tissue that then offers the 2 video games, additionally gave Rohrmann a singular alternative to work with the primary recreation’s soundtrack in a approach that not solely let the brand new music be in dialogue with that first rating, but additionally converse to the broader themes at play.
“There’s truly time looping, and the best way these narrative threads are structured, makes it virtually make an excessive amount of sense to return and rework one thing,” he mentioned. “I’m not saying it is much less work, however, it is an incredible alternative to primarily remix my very own work in related methods.”
Though Rohrmann didn’t, after all, need to spoil what work he could also be doing with this ARG or forward of the sequel that would lead to Oxenfree II clues, he did level to an ARG second prior to now that provides a sign of what might come.
“I’ll give yet one more instance simply because this can be related sooner or later. We seeded ARG components six months earlier than Oxenfree one got here out, which was a music I mentioned, “Oh, here is a music from this recreation. You can pay attention to it if you need.’ It had morse coding. People have since realized that the melody was enjoying morse code. They would have been onto one thing six months earlier than the sport got here out, however, clearly no one knew who it was. So, it sat dormant till the week of the sport popping out. Then, individuals thought ‘Oh, that is morse code.’
“Once I found [that people realized this], I may change it as a result of front-facing on band camp, you possibly can’t inform if a file has modified. And, so we acquired to play with this concept of time in the true world; ‘I went there yesterday, after which I downloaded it immediately, and it is totally different.’
And Rohrmann’s work could also be extra related to Oxenfree than some followers might understand.
“Andy actually has been a lot of the muse of the extra mind-bendy elements of the sport. In the primary one, every part from his precise recording course of, which was tremendous analog. He actually broadcast himself, recorded the published, after which put them on a reel and stretched it out and broke it up. All that stuff leads into the design. The tape reels from the primary recreation, coping with time loops, all that Andy closely influenced,” Krankel mentioned.
“The basis [of Oxenfree] is already begging to be messed with, to be meta and unusual,” Krankel continued. “Audio and radio broadcasts being the muse of the way you work together with that has meant that Andy has been greater than a composer. He is basically like a designer on this undertaking and was on the primary one as nicely.”
Is Talking About It Spoiling the ARG?
Night School has a historical past with ARG’s and Oxenfree, the unique of which truly concerned real-world locations, however tried their finest to play up the thriller of it. And the humorous factor about ARGs for fictional tales is the place the creators draw the road. To acknowledge an ARG is occurring breaks a few of the enjoyable that comes from imagining a narrative bleeding into our world. Then once more, truly addressing it helps carry consciousness, extra curiosity, and, in the end, extra possibilities for followers to collaborate and work on piecing every part collectively. And, frankly, it is cool when a narrative could be instructed in such a singular approach like this.
“With the primary recreation, it was essential to be secretive about it as a result of the world was being launched to these characters and this lore. And, we additionally simply did not assume anyone was taking a look at us. If something, they have been wanting on the recreation,” Krankel mentioned. “Any ARG parts a number of years in the past, we wished them below this shroud of secrecy. But, as we have moved ahead, and as we’re constructing out this subsequent group, the best way that we take a look at it’s there could be a number of touchpoints that inform a singular story.”
“As a lot effort as goes into the sport’s story, goes into this story, and it is all supposed to be one singular piece of labor. It simply so occurs that a part of it is not in Oxenfree II. Before we cared about being high secret about every part, now we would like everyone to know it is on the market, and see it and really feel it.”
“We’ve been attempting to strike a fragile steadiness between wanting to give sufficient that you really want to know extra. But, not an excessive amount of that it feels just like the apple has gone rotten,” Hines added.
“This is nice as a result of now it is not a lot ready for a puzzle so individuals can rush to resolve it [like in other ARGs]. It’s extra a narrative, and it is extra narrative,” Rohrmann mentioned.
And Night School very knowingly made this interwoven story with the concept followers would dissect each aspect of it, and hope that course of will likely be as rewarding because it was developing with how to implement it.
“One of the good issues about our fan base is that it doesn’t matter what we put out they’ll choose it aside to the atoms, simply to work out what we’re going for,” Douglas mentioned. “And, we wrote loads of this content material particularly with them in thoughts. So, every time a sentence stops midway via and also you really need that sentence to end. That’s why we did it. It’s due to you.”
“There are nonetheless issues on the market that we have already dropped, that had but to be found,” Rohrmann mentioned. “We’ve already seeded mysteries and issues. So, it has been actually enjoyable to take these concepts and combine them right into a recreation that got here out 5 years in the past. I imply, that is so cool. How usually does that occur?”
Oxenfree II is headed to PC, PS4, PS5, and Nintendo Switch in 2022. Oxenfree’s new updates are at present solely accessible through the Steam model of the unique recreation.
Jonathon Dornbush is IGN’s Senior Features Editor, PlayStation Lead, and host of Podcast Beyond! He’s the proud canine father of a BOY named Loki. Talk to him on Twitter @jmdornbush.