Space horror always has its appeal, 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 a century has passed since the landing of Dead Space su PlayStation 3. The game, a true forerunner of a genre now explored in all ways, had landed in 2008 and then continued with two other chapters. Thirteen years and two generations later arriva Returnal, 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 nightmare in deep space 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 narrative cryptic and mysterious which we will discover during the course of the game. Our protagonist, Selene, is an astronaut who, due to a failure, falls on a lost planet named Atropo. Once awakened, Selene finds herself wandering the planet in search of a solution, but discovers a bitter and surprising truth: the planet is not deserted. Finding the corpse of another astronaut and taking the gun of the victim, our terrifying adventure begins on Atropo and start our Returnal review.
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. Buio, cutscene, restart. Exactly, because this is the true playful and narrative form of Returnal: that of 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.
Based on the roguelike mechanics the entire narrative of the game is based. With each death, in fact, we start again from the point of the crash after having relived the moments before the blackout. Every time you start over though, the puzzle consists of a new piece, telling two stories in parallel through cutscene: that of Selene, who remembers almost nothing due to amnesia and that of the Atropos civilization, a hostile planet where machines have 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 un roguelike nudo e crudo. During each run we will find ourselves in hostile environments 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 progress obtained 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, it is possible to find better and better weapons, upgrades and improvements to the suit. Furthermore, in certain ravines it is possible to find shops that allow you to exchange Get sick (bargaining chip obtainable by exterminating 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 suitable 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, think about it a superb technical and artistic sector of the game. 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 the 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 PlayStation 5’s 3D audio it has a completely different flavor.
Again, and again, and again
Summing up on Returnal we realize we have in our hands an almost perfect product, but which suffers from such small defects. 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 it will surely leave an indelible mark in 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 TechGameWorld.com 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!
A nightmare not to be missed!
Points in favor
- Oscar-worthy storytelling
- Fast-paced, fun and ruthless
- Excellent technical and graphic sector
- Excellent integration of DualSense and 3D Audio
- Lots of references to such pillars
- The difficulty dictated by the genre could discourage the less experienced
- A key not always accessible