Exclusive to PlayStation 5, Returnal is one of the most anticipated titles of the moment. Directed by the Finnish studio Housemarque (born from the merger between Bloodhouse and Terramarque), this psychological thriller arrives in the coming days. Future hit or modest title? Before definitely putting your hands on this shooter, let’s take stock of the game, its inspirations, its gameplay and its peculiarities.
Crushed on Atropos, a mysterious alien planet, Selene desperately tries to join the command of ASTRA but her calls go unanswered. Around her, everything is desolation and the places seem to be in the grip of a storm. Her suit being intact, she decides, despite everything, to extricate herself from her shuttle and begins to tread the soil of this unknown land. Stunned, she then discovers that she no longer has a weapon and chooses to sink, despite her vulnerability, into this unpleasant environment. Following the signal she detected (and what she was on her way to Atropos for), the astronaut discovers the body of a scout and proceeds to identify him. The trailer does not say more about what she discovers and leaves the viewer in suspense since the weapon, mislaid by the heroine, is next to the corpse. Filigree so far, Returnal’s plot shouldn’t be lacking in twists and turns. Especially since it is based on a well-worn concept that can be very effective if used well: the time loop.
One endless day
Indeed, Returnal’s heroine is stuck in a space-time rift, which implies that each death results in a flashback bringing it back moments before it crashed into Atropos. Like the film with Bill Murray, Selene will progress by adapting her actions according to her discoveries, so as not to relive to life everlasting the same temporal routines. And there, no groundhog, no snow and even less Pennsylvania, it will be necessary to penetrate in obscure places, to make its way in hostile caves and to come up against creatures ready to do anything to defeat the brave human in combination. To get rid of these critters, the young lady can count on her fairly large arsenal as well as a back device allowing her to propel herself or, if necessary, to dodge enemy blows.
The developers have hammered it out: the adventure is above all focused on survival and it will be necessary to constantly adapt to the numerous patterns of the enemies, under penalty of suffering the consequences. Returnal is a punitive and demanding title, responding to the codes of roguelike. Very dynamic in its mechanics, it also offers an original structure in the sense that each death causes… a regeneration of the environment. Concretely, the game uses a system combining the presence of preconceived areas with random gameplay events. Each time Selene falls in battle, the world around her changes. The map is different, the placement of enemies is no longer the same and their number changes. Returnal requires continual rehabilitation and everything seems to indicate that he will be anything but a walk in the park. To get rid of the ignominy inhabiting the levels, the player can count on artifacts giving access to weapons, consumables and various equipment improvements. If the principle remains classic, the developers have however indicated that these modifications will have an immediate impact on the character and his way of operating in combat. By combining the procedural aspect with different gameplay approaches, Returnal is supposed to offer a unique run for each game. Hopefully the promise is not too ambitious.
Psychological thriller obliges, the discoveries that Selene will make on her own history will have an impact on her progress. In order for the immersion to be total, the designers opted for a subjective approach to the situation. If the action phases take place in the third person, certain sequences are experienced from the eyes of the heroine, thus making it possible to create an emotional connection between her and the player. It is not known what will be the tenor of the events with which she will be confronted but, in all likelihood, the ASTRA scout will be at the epicenter of an intrigue that goes well beyond a simple signal to be found. Returnal should not be stingy in strong sequences, as revealed in the gameplay trailer, where reality mingles with the memories of the heroine. This way of operating is very clever because it comes to transgress the evolution of the player, while proposing environments which would have, a priori, nothing to do in such a production. Less generic than one might have feared when the game was announced, Returnal intrigues with its Metroidvania formula and could surprise with its non-linear progression. We are far from having seen everything of the exclusive PlayStation 5 but we will give you all our impressions once the title is in our hands. The app is scheduled for April 30, so the wait is coming to an end.
Brent Dubin, known as the Gaming Giant among Globe Live Media staff, is the chief Gaming Reporter for Globe Live Media. Having attended all the major events of Gaming around the World, he is sure to give you exactly the update related to gaming World you are looking for.