Returnal, preview: let's analyze the new information on the PS5 exclusive

Returnal, preview: let's analyze the new information on the PS5 exclusive

Returnal, preview

On the evening of February 25, a new State of Play aired, Sony's digital event that unveiled new footage of the most interesting PS4 and PS5 games coming out. Among others, there was also space for Returnal, the interesting exclusive PlayStation 5 arriving on April 30, 2021. Thanks to the new video (and a series of trailers released in recent weeks) we have the opportunity to dive into the dark world of Atropos and analyze what we have discovered so far about this roguelike.

Here is our new preview of Returnal , PS5 exclusive.


Returnal: what lurks on the alien planet Atropos Let's start with the plot first. Our protagonist is called Selene, an astronaut who is shipwrecked on an alien planet called Atropos, full of aggressive and deadly creatures. The woman went there after receiving a strange signal called "White Shadow". Selene's fate is, inevitably, death, but this is not the end of the journey. With each defeat, the woman awakens moments before the crash of her shuttle. What is happening? Our task will be to find out.

Roguelikes are, historically, games which, while offering a narrative component, focus primarily on gameplay. The plot is often in the background, more of a justification for the game world and its characters than one of the main reasons that push the player to live the experience. Returnal actually seems to go against this custom, as did the much-loved Hades.

Housemarque narrative director Gregory Louden and game director Harry Krueger explained - in an interview with GamesRadar - that the team's goal is to "haunt the players" with a mysterious and horrifying story . With each new game we can therefore expect to discover new details about the world of Returnal, but also about the protagonist. Selene is not a generic avatar for the player, but a real character with a past and an identity.

Selene's memories will in fact be at the center of the plot. The most recent video allows us to see the woman approaching a house known to her, appeared out of nowhere in the middle of Atropos, in which she relives part of her memories: "some seem corrupt and others seem false", explains the protagonist.

Indeed, these sections are (at least in part) in first person according to the trailer of the State of Play: this suggests that they will not be just filling phases, but real plot events that we can unlock from game to game, created for be central to the experience. The sensations are horror and not just for the monstrous creatures that we will have to face.

Clearly there is a mysterious force that rules Atropos or even just Selene's mind during the journey. We already know that the alien civilization that once ruled the planet was able to create a great city and that this ruling race was part of a "hive mind". There is a lot of meat on the fire.


Returnal: Will the combat system be the flagship of the game? But let's talk about creatures, but also about weapons and levels: in a nutshell, let's talk about the gameplay. Returnal, as mentioned, is a roguelike: this means that with each new game the game maps will change.

It is impossible to understand from a few trailers how much good Housemarque has done with procedurality, given that one of the most relevant factors is the variety, not judged by just a handful of gameplay scenes. However, we were able to discover that there will be at least six areas in the game.

Through the trailer dedicated to the planet, we can see that the game interface offers six distinct regions, three of which already have a name: "Overgrown Ruins", a verdant area within a stone labyrinth, "Derelict Citadel", a town of which we have only seen a couple of glimpses and "Crimson Wastes", a desert area made up of red earth.

Almost all of the game sequences shown are set in Overgrown Ruins, so it is impossible for the moment to judge possible playful uniqueness of the various areas. However, we can make some considerations on the heart of the gameplay.

Returnal builds on the tradition of Housemarque, a team that has become famous for its bullet hell arcade games. In fact, we can expect clashes full of bullet shots and bright laser beams that will come from every direction. The gameplay is fast and dynamic: we will have to manage our position carefully and always stay on the move. The creatures that we will face, based on the distributed films, are often large and quite aggressive.

Returnal: the fights seem fast and adrenaline Fortunately Selene will have access to a varied arsenal of alien origin. The weapons will have statistics such as power, bullet speed and "overheat duration", which we assume is the equivalent of the classic "reload time". We will also be able to find new technologies that enhance the weapons that we will use during the exploration: an example is "Shockstream" which introduces an alternative fire mode that unleashes a lightning storm; there is also "Electropylon Driver" which places poles that connect and generate an area that deals constant damage; or even "Spitmaw" that transforms the weapon into a sort of powerful shotgun.

In addition to the weapons we will have the "Devices", consumable items and upgrades, such as a disposable protection for a single shot or an explosion effect that damages enemies when hit. Then there are the "Unknown" (Unknown), upgrades that allow you to get bonuses in exchange for malus and appear in the form of alien parasites. Finally, there are the "Tools", freely activatable objects that allow you to perform special attacks, such as a radial blast or an impaler that blocks an enemy in place. There will also be a sword that allows you to destroy shields that can block bullets. The areas will also have environmental traps and during the exploration and the clashes we will be able to move with a grappling hook (towards predetermined points, not freely) and through shots and short flights. The elements involved are therefore multiple and should allow a great variety of approaches to each game of Returnal.

Returnal is certainly very promising. The pedigree of Housemarque is indisputable and what we have seen so far seems fast, adrenaline-pumping and stylistically inspired. The environments are perhaps slightly more generic than other roguelikes, but the creatures and feelings that the trailers have been able to elicit are top-notch. It could also be an interesting game for those who just want some sci-fi horror. The variety will be a fundamental point to understand if Returnal can really aim high, or if it will be quickly forgotten: unfortunately, until we have the opportunity to try it for many and many hours we will not be able to give a judgment, even partial and superficial. We also hope that the additional development time will help Housemarque finish the job and deliver us a finished product since D1.


The narrative component seems deeper than expected The gameplay seems quick and layered power-ups DOUBT The variety of enemies and level design continues to be an unknown

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