Returnal: 6 Things You Should Know

Housemarque your calendars.

Returnal game
Returnal game

Although Housemarque specialized in arcade games for many years, the Finnish studio has been looking forward to their biggest and most ambitious project, Returnal, an AAA kind of game, since arcade wasn’t selling well for them.

Ever since the battle royale project Stormdivers was put on hold, we have been waiting for Housemarque’s new PS5 exclusive title to be released.

In Returnal, we’ll see Selene, a heterochromatic space scout, going after a strange signal called “White Shadow” comes from an exoplanet called Atropos. She crashes on that planet, and quickly realizes death is not the end there, but a time-looping restart, and there’s hostile life everywhere. Tom Cruise isn’t anywhere to be seen, though, if you know what I mean.

Returnal was expected to release on March 19th, but it was delayed to April 30th, so the devs could “polish the game”. Sure, delays aren’t the best thing ever, but we’re all traumatized by the Cyberpunk 2077 experience. Because of that, further polishing has become almost mandatory for upcoming games.

Since we’ve got more than a month until release, sit back and chill while we give you some cool facts Housemarque has let us know about Returnal on PS5.


1. It’ll Be A Roguelike, And A Sci-Fi, And A Bullet Hell, And More

Returnal PS5Returnal PS5
Returnal PS5

Although we’ve been shown a sci-fi game with shooter elements, Returnal isn’t going to be just that.

When Selene dies by a pack of aliens, she will be revived, but back in time. When she gets revived, though, things won’t be the same as they were before her death. The place she died at could now be devoid of enemies, and if it was previously dry, it could now have exoplanetary rain pouring down.

In gaming language, that means Returnal will be a roguelike, and some areas will be procedurally generated. Different loot, different fights and different scenarios await you in each new run, and Housemarque promises replayability with that.

But there’s even more to it than just a sci-fi roguelike third person shooter. As we progress into the game, Selene feels her sanity slipping further and further away, as the planet seemingly starts to penetrate her mind and memories. We all know the equation ‘insanity’ plus ‘video game’ equals ‘psychological horror’, so it might be wise to get extra underwear when this game comes out.

So far, we’ve got a sci-fi roguelike third person psychological horror shooter. Now add Housemarque’s specialization in satisfying combat, and you’ll get a fun, action-packed bullet hell, too.


2. An Arsenal Of Weapons, Tools And Devices

Returnal PS5
Returnal PS5

In Returnal, a myriad of weapons, each with varied functions, will be available for you to use. Those weapons will be upgradeable, and it is up to you which weapon to upgrade, and how to upgrade them.

Besides the weapons, Selene will also encounter alien artifacts, such as tools and devices, that grant her specific buffs that can make a deadly enemy not so deadly, or allow the player to progress to a part they weren’t able to go to before.

Sometimes, we might come across parasites, alien lifeforms that give you an advantage while also giving you a disadvantage. That’ll require strategic thinking of the player: “Will this buff be worth that debuff?” If Selene gets a poorly weighed tradeoff, her life-death cycle will probably restart a moment too soon.

Some of those items and upgrades can be found during each run, but others will need to be bought with the game’s currency: Obolites.

If you don’t want to buy crazy alien gadgets, you can keep your Obolites and spend them to save your run, like a checkpoint, so you don’t lose all your progress and acquired items when you die.

The artifacts at your disposal will change in every new cycle. That makes for an even more replayable game, as each run will feel and play differently, depending on what you got, and what you decided to do with your stuff.


3. Track Your Performance With The Cthonos

Returnal PS5
Returnal PS5

Players will get an interesting way of seeing how they’re doing in their runs. They will have an alien thing called the Cthonos that keeps track of their performance.

Every time Selene reaches a certain progress point, a new item will be given to her by the Cthonos, and that item will also be added to the pool of items you can get from loot, too.

This alien device will also give you a random item whenever a new cycle is started. If you died and lost all your items, you might begin your new run with a powerful new artifact that you recently acquired from the Cthonos’ progress tracker. Or you might get a crappy generic one.

Things that begin with ‘Cth-’ aren’t always good for us, but, all in all, this one’s seemingly going to be quite benevolent.


4. The Cosmic Horror Will Keep You Curious

Returnal PS5
Returnal PS5

Returnal will have an otherworldly, intriguing cosmic horror vibe to Atropos, the planet where the game will be based.

The fact that Selene wakes up crashing on Atropos all over again, whenever she dies on this planet, is one of the main things that makes the protagonist investigate the alien world. That, along with the mysterious “White Shadow” signal, will surely make anyone interested in seeking every answer they can get.

In that aspect, while players can go straight ahead and try to finish their run as fast as possible (when I say ‘finish’, I might mean ‘die’), there will be the option to stop, look around, and explore. Even more so as they might find new places to go in each new run.


5. There Will Be First Person Scenes With Narrative Elements

Returnal game
Returnal game

While most of the game will be all about third-person shooting, some parts will set you in an immersive first-person view, as you look around otherworldly and not so otherworldly stuff.

As noted, Selene will find herself closer and closer to insanity as the alien world creeps into her memories. She’ll see and enter her old house, for example, except it will now be in Atropos. And that house will ominously change, much like the planet itself does.

When scenes like that house-exploring one appear, the player will step in the astronaut-shoes of Selene, and see the world through her blue and brown eyes. In short, that means first person.

That will do wonders for exploration, immersion and ambience, and we might just get a bit of psychological or alien horror in first person.


6. The PS5 Will Be Used To Its Full Extent

Returnal game
Returnal game

Housemarque is doing good work with the PS5’S capabilities, as Returnal gets some quality of life features that will make players even more comfortable and hooked to the game.

The console’s powerful hardware permits fast loading, so when you transit into a new area or die (I sincerely hope the first one happens more often than the second), there won’t be a halt to your bullet dodging; you’ll be back in action in no time.

Another cool thing is the use of the PS5 controller’s adaptive triggers and haptic feedback. Some weapons will get alternate fire modes, and those modes can be used by pressing the trigger all the way down. If you don’t want to use them, press the trigger halfway down to use the normal firing mode.

The console also allows 3D sound, so we can fully immerse in Returnal’s strange and hostile world.

Although we already know many features that will be in Returnal, there is still a lot to be revealed. We might get some surprises from Housemarque when the game is released on April 30th. Or they might just be giving us snippets of information, day by day. Either way, stay tuned.

Returnal launches on April 30th, exclusively for PS5.

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