Netflix Games’ catalogue continues to impress with its variety

From Summer Game Fest, here are impressions of five upcoming Netflix titles, including Oxenfree II: Lost Signals

Oxenfree II: Lost Signals

It’s not often talked about, but the Netflix Games catalogue is quite diverse.

From attention-grabbing exclusives like Too Hot to Handle: Love is a Game, Krispee Street and the Toronto-made Laya’s Horizon to ports of acclaimed console and PC titles like Immortality and the Montreal-made Spiritfarer and TMNT: Shredder’s Revengethe streaming giant has a surprisingly solid mobile games lineup.

At Summer Game Fest in Los Angeles, the company offered hands-on demos of five more games that were all drastically different, further showcasing the platform’s variety.

Here are my impressions of each.

Oxenfree II: Lost Signals

Oxenfree 2 Lost SignalsRelease date: July 12th, 2023

Netflix’s biggest title on display was the sequel to 2016’s acclaimed graphic adventure game, Oxenfree. With the streaming service acquiring developer Night School Studio in 2021, Oxenfree II will now release exclusively on Android and iOS via Netflix Games (the version I played) on top of the previously confirmed PlayStation 4/5, Nintendo Switch and PC. I’d never played the first game, so I went into this fresh, but thankfully, the sequel’s story takes place five years and focuses on a new character, a researcher named Riley.

My demo began with Riley returning to the coastal town of Camena, only to discover supernatural occurrences. Admittedly, I didn’t realize that the game was so light on gameplay, as I was effectively only tapping where she could go as well as making dialogue choices. But soon after, I came to appreciate that the focus was more on the sense of mystery and atmosphere, and so the minimal interactivity makes it more approachable for all audiences, especially on mobile. That said, there’s also a little walkie-talkie mechanic that has you cycling through channels to chat with contacts and uncover more lore, which adds to the immersion.

Meanwhile, here are the four mobile-only games:

Cut the Rope DailyNetflix Cut the Rope Daily

Release date: August 1st, 2023

Going into this game, I wasn’t actually familiar with Cut the Rope, an old physics-based web and mobile game. For anyone in a similar boat, the aim of the game is to precisely remove the ropes attached to a hanging candy so that it can swing into a little creature’s mouth. Naturally, obstacles and gimmicks are introduced as you progress, like active fans, floating bubbles and teleporting hats.

What’s neat about this version of Cut the Rope is it’s designed, as the name suggests, around daily play. This means that outside of a few introductory stages, you’re given one new game per day. At first, I thought this seemed limited from a content perspective, but upon reflection, it’s a smart, almost Wordle-esque way to give people something bite-sized to come back to regularly. This should be a nice little addition to the catalogue.

Lego Legacy: Heroes Unboxed

Lego Legacy Heroes Unboxed

Release date: “Coming soon”

I’m a noted sucker for turn-based RPGs, so Gameloft Toronto’s Heroes Unboxed being literally just that was such a pleasant surprise. (Although this is a game from a few years ago, it’s the first time I’ve seen it.) In an original story centred around actual Lego characters, your job is to form a party of quirky characters and face off against zany villains in Final Fantasy-style combat.

Lego Legacy isn’t particularly deep based on what I played, but given the all-ages appeal of Lego, that’s definitely not a bad thing. Instead, the real highlight came from the charm of the attacks and animations, like Crook Chuck swinging around his ball and chain or Chicken Suit Guy battling with poultry. I could definitely see kids getting a kick out of recruiting new recognizable minifigs over time.

Paper Trail

Netflix Paper Trail

Release date: “Coming soon”

Here’s another game that fits especially nicely on mobile. Set in a world made of paper, Newfangled Games’ Paper Trail has you guiding a budding academic named Paige as she leaves home for her studies. To do that, you’ll need to fold the actual environment to clear a path, which feels natural and tactile thanks to a touch screen.

I didn’t really get a feel for how compelling the story might be, but the puzzles are quite solid. The representative also showed a quick sizzle reel of later puzzles, which seem to be even more engrossing and elaborate, so this could be a perfect Netflix mobile title to sink your teeth into.

The Queen’s Gambit Chess

Release date: July 25th, 2023

Part of Netflix’s plans with its games is for brand synergy, but so far, we’ve only seen a few properties get that treatment, like Stranger Things. However, The Queen’s Gambit Chess is perhaps the most natural fit for a licensed Netflix game to date. Following Beth’s (Anya Taylor-Joy) journey from The Queen’s Gambit series, the game lets you take a deep dive into the world of chess.

Truthfully, I’ve never actually seen the show, so the little cameos and references don’t mean anything to me. What I appreciate, though, is how well the game helps you with everything. If you’re someone like me and aren’t well-acquainted with chess, there are various difficulty settings and tutorials on different pieces and strategies for players of all skill levels. Even without any attachment to The Queen’s Gambit, I could see myself playing this just to get a little better at chess.

Netflix Games are included at no additional cost with a Netflix membership, which starts at $5.99/month in Canada. All Netflix Games are also free of ads and microtransactions.

Image credit: Netflix