OpinionVideo Games

Tough Luck, Oxenfree II, I’m Still Not Talking

Oxenfree II: Lost Signals total silence silent playthrough no speaking talking dialogue ignore all NPCs

Oxenfree II: Lost Signals’ conversation is, apparently, a joy. I wouldn’t know. I’ve been getting my kicks from shutting the hell up, and if that means missing out on its mind-bending mysteries, I’m fine with that.

It’s not that I’m trying to speedrun this supernatural adventure. If anything, staying silent adds to Oxenfree II’s runtime. But watching NPCs react to (and try to work around) my silence gives me such a warm and fuzzy feeling.

I’d adopted a similar approach to the original Oxenfree. My standout memory of that game is still discovering that, if you wait long enough, the speech bubbles just disappear. Well, I remember that and the shenanigans that ensued when I started ignoring people.

It didn’t drastically alter the course of the plot, but I laughed myself silly as my already on-edge “friends” tried to make head or tail of my silence. So I was eager to see how its follow-up would handle my refusal to talk.

I wasn’t disappointed. I think the highlight of my Oxenfree II playthrough has been when my sidekick Jacob, whose mere existence wound me up, tried to get a word game going. After patiently explaining how the game was played, he threw me the first word.


He tried one more time.

Again, nothing.

Oxenfree II: Lost Signals total silence silent playthrough no speaking talking dialogue ignore all NPCs

His awkwardness, when he realized he’d crashed and burned, was just delicious and will keep me warm on cold nights. And when he voiced his concern that a particularly nasty fall had killed me, I kept similarly shtum. He was, understandably, a little concerned. Did I care? Not in the least.

Why? Because I hadn’t yet played the game properly. I’d played for an hour, tops, before I decided to put Riley on mute. Unlike fellow writer Jess, who had a completely different experience, I hadn’t built up any kind of relationship with Jacob.

All I knew was that he’d been foisted upon me, and as my sole companion, he was going to take the brunt of my stonewalling. That’s probably also why, once he stepped into a mine elevator, I spent five minutes just waggling the lever back and forth. He didn’t cover the insides of the elevator with blocky spew, but I like to think he was mere moments away.

Oxenfree II: Lost Signals total silence silent playthrough no speaking talking dialogue ignore all NPCs

It was a different dynamic from in the original Oxenfree, where I had four other NPCs to freak out. Keeping quiet wasn’t enough to have them fleeing in terror, but they were on edge enough that it seriously dialed up their discomfort.

After all, in the original, protagonist Alex and her fellow students were expecting a chill beach party, not the nightmare they wandered into. Jacob, on the other hand, was better versed in the strange phenomena that were emanating from the island, so my silence led to discomfort rather than out-and-out terror.

But Jacob hasn’t been the only person to suffer from my shenanigans. Oxenfree II gives you a walkie-talkie, and Evelyn, the researcher who’s tasked you with surveying the area, regularly attempts to get in contact with you with it.

In my case, “attempt” was the operative word. I’m not sure if she just wanted to bond, but after being ignored five times in a row, she still refused to give up. Every other screen the walkie would burst to life, and each time, I’d refuse to reach for it.

Take that, Oxenfree II, with your stupid plot, mysteries, and interpersonal relationships. Okay, I’m being a little facetious, but it handled my silence surprisingly well, especially compared to some other games.

Oxenfree II: Lost Signals total silence silent playthrough no speaking talking dialogue ignore all NPCs

Telltale’s Game of Thrones declares that silence is a valid choice but still has you talking during cutscenes. And Life is Strange: True Colors is even, well, stranger, because conversations don’t time-out at all. Whether you wait two minutes or two hours, the girl from the flower show will still be there, staring, waiting for you to continue the conversation.

There have been occasions when Oxenfree II put words in my mouth, and I’m still miffed that Riley chose to blurt something out just because she’d tied a rope to a climbing hook. But for the most part, the game has let me maintain my silence.

I never felt as if the game leaned over and grabbed the wheel. Instead, it worked around me, like the time Evelyn (incorrectly) assumed my walkie-talkie was broken and engaged in an awkward one-sided conversation. I almost felt guilty. Almost.

Am I a terrible person for stonewalling Oxenfree II’s NPCs, making them thoroughly uncomfortable? Will I play it properly at some point? Yes and yes, though it’ll be a little jarring to actually have things to say to Jacob. Who knows, maybe I’ll even apologize? With semaphore.

About the author

Chris McMullen
Freelance contributor at The Escapist. I've returned to writing about games after a couple of career changes, with my recent stint lasting five-plus years. I hope, through my writing work, to settle the karmic debt I incurred by persuading my parents to buy a Mega CD. Aside from writing for The Escapist, I also cover news and more for GameSpew. I've also been published at other sites including VG247, Space, and more. My tastes run to horror, the post-apocalyptic, and beyond, though I'll tackle most things that aren't exclusively sports-based.