Space horror always has its charm, and when the genre moves to next gen it definitely has a different flavor. Today we want to tell you about Returnal, Housemarque’s latest effort, in our review
It seems like a century has passed since the landing of Dead Space on PlayStation 3. The game, a true forerunner of a genre now explored in every way, landed in 2008 and then continued with two other chapters. Thirteen years and two generations later Returnal arrives , a title with the same “vibes” but with a decidedly different flavor from Visceral Games’ survival. So today we want to talk to you about the deep space nightmare of Returnal, the latest PlayStation 5 exclusive, in our review.
When Ridley Scott winks …
The impressive cutscene that opens Returnal, clearly inspired by the film giants of the genre, sets the stage for a cryptic and mysterious narrative that we will discover during the course of the game. Our protagonist, Selene , is an astronaut who falls on a lost planet named Atropos due to a failure . Once awakened, Selene finds herself wandering the planet in search of a solution, but discovers a bitter and surprising truth: the planet is not desert. Finding the corpse of another astronaut and taking the gun of the victim, our terrifying adventure on Atropos begins and our review of Returnal begins.
A roguelike like never before – Returnal review, lost in the deep
Armed with our only weapon (with infinite ammunition, fortunately) we enter the first area and we find ourselves facing some of the xenomorphic species that populate the planet. After a short tutorial, we come to a pilot boss who literally destroys us. Dark, cutscene, restart . Exactly, because this is the true playful and narrative form of Returnal: that of the pure roguelike . The game, despite taking full hands from the predecessors of the genre and having soulslike mechanics, is a roguelike with very similar bases to those of the recent (and wonderful) Hades .
The entire narrative of the game is based on the basic mechanics of the roguelike . With each death, in fact, we start again from the point of the crash after having relived the moments before the blackout. Each time you start over, however, the puzzle is made up of a new piece , telling through cutscene two stories in parallel: that of Selene , who, due to an amnesia, remembers almost nothing, and that of the civilization of Atropos , a hostile planet where the machines they rebelled and exterminated all forms of life. Throughout its duration, Returnal almost makes fun of the player with its cryptic and twisted narrative, guiding him into an abyss of memories and revelations until the story ends.
Difficult but rewarding – Returnal review, lost in the deep
As already mentioned despite an Oscar-winning narrative, the beating heart of Returnal is that of a naked and raw roguelike . During each run we will find ourselves in hostile environments that are teeming with enemies, mini bosses, resources and weapons . Although the adventure always starts from scratch after each death, the guys from Housemarque did a great job in outlining a common thread in Selene’s narrative and playful evolution. The result is a storyline that is composed piece by piece with each respawn, with parallel development and enhancement of the character based on the progress made in the previous run.
The Returnal rooms, randomized at each restart, offer numerous contents as well as a good selection of xenomorphs. During each run, which always starts with the same gun but with different fire, you can find better and better weapons, upgrades and suit improvements. Furthermore, in certain ravines it is possible to find shops that allow you to exchange the Oboliti (exchange currency obtainable by exterminating the enemies) with consumables and upgrades. The result is a fast-paced and fun but merciless game, where even the slightest distraction can make a difference.
As beautiful as it is terrifying – Returnal review, lost in the deep
From what has been written above, it is clear that Returnal is not a product for everyone. Its complex interpretation and its gameplay make it a particular game , not easy to interpret but which certainly satisfies the most refined palates thanks to its numerous references. In this regard, a superb technical and artistic sector of the game takes care of it . Atropos is a dark, mysterious and menacing planet, ruled by alien entities and populated by xenomorphs ready to skin us. The mood, which fully recalls the atmosphere of Prometheus , enjoys an excellent technical sector and a breathtaking graphic impact, all enriched by the (almost) fixed 60 fps at which the game runs. Although the environments are slightly monochromatic, the use of ray-tracing makes everything more beautiful, returning truly convincing particle effects and light effects.
As if that weren’t enough, the feedback returned by DualSense contributes deeply to the immersion of the title thanks to the integrated speaker, haptic feedback and adaptive triggers. The whole experience is framed by a sound design that is not innovative, but certainly spot on and masterfully orchestrated, which thanks to the 3D audio of PlayStation 5 has a completely different flavor.
Again, and again, and again
Summing up on Returnal we realize that we have an almost perfect product in our hands , but that suffers from small defects of the kind. Although Housemarque has fully managed to take the roguelike genre to another level, Returnal is still not a suitable product for everyone. Its inherent difficulty, linked to a cryptic and twisted narrative, could discourage the average player from delving into the adventure. To put a patch on this “if”, however, the addiction dictated by an excellent gameplay, a graphic and technical sector of the highest level and an experience that takes advantage of the possibilities offered by PlayStation 5 and DualSense to perfection. An exclusive that will surely leave an indelible mark on the history of the console.Returnal is available for PlayStation 5 from April 30, 2021 at a price of € 79.99.
We hope we have offered you a pleasant read with our Returnal review, and as always we invite you to stay connected on tuttoteK for more reviews, guides, news and much more from the world of video games. Also, don’t forget to check out the Instant Gaming catalog for always discounted games. Hello and happy gaming!