There are certain trends in the world of games that, when they work, yield several other games in the same style – some bad, some very good. Returnal, PS5 exclusive title and produced by the Housemarque studio, is part of the second example. A kind of “Infinite roguelike”, the adventure has interesting ideas, which renew what we saw in other recent and award winning examples.
In its main nature, Returnal it is simply a third-person shooter, with a lot of action. But it only takes a few minutes of gambling to discover your true objective and the way the game will present itself to the user throughout their hours and more hours of matches. And let me tell you: if you liked the recent Hades, you will feel at home here.
The inspiration is clear. Hades did not invent the roguelike genre and it was not even the first game to bring procedural generation phases, but it is a recent enough example of success to justify other titles coming out in its wake. In Returnal we have a similar experience, but with a lot of personality and elements that will surprise you and expand this “genre”, if I can classify it that way.
In Returnal we started the story by following everything from the perspective of Selene, an astronaut whose mission is to explore the unknown planet Atropos. Selene travels on her ship and lands on the spot after reports that other members of her team have disappeared there, but the problems start already on landing.
Selene loses her weapon to deal with the unknown. She is soon confronted with alien environments and exotic elements that are unfamiliar … But at the same time they are. Further on, the first shock: the character finds a body from another astronaut and starts using his weapon, but the body is… hers!
From there Returnal shows us what it is about, mixing elements of gameplay with its story. Selene is stuck in a time loop, as is the player. The affliction that the character goes through is the affliction that the player will have when trying to survive and prolong this loop, in order to discover secrets and know what is all that involves him.
Returnal makes intelligent use of indirect narrative. We don’t know all the facts at the beginning and there is no summary. You discover everything in touch and, little by little, Selene’s past and future unfolds in front of your eyes. The most interesting thing is that this is a game that didn’t even need something like that, as it guarantees a lot in gameplay, but, since it has, it’s worth reinforcing that it’s a storyline carefully and especially well narrated.
The infinite roguelike
But, as I said about gameplay, let’s go into this detail. What we see here is a game in the style roguelike, but with generation of random phases. As with so many others in the past, such as Dead Cells, Rogue Legacy and the most recent success, Hades.
As I said, it is not something new. But, at the same time, it is rewarding to see how a type of game that is already so well explored follows a unique path without having to reinvent the wheel. Returnal it is more or less in that footprint. The adventure naturally introduces you to your “die and be reborn” style, without worrying about explaining the mechanics too much and leaving you to deal with the consequences.
That’s how we go: in Returnal, every time Selene dies, she comes back from the beginning. Only the first scenario is always the same. When you walk through a door, you see phases that are totally different from what they were before. Is the planet alive? We do not know until we explore the story, but in the gameplay it works that is delicious. The character maintains equipment and skill improvements, but returns when he dies or if the player turns off the console while playing, for example.
As it is presented, Returnal it is almost natural in relation to the control in the player’s hands. The game tries hard to surprise and this happens as soon as the first creatures appear in front of the character, shooting projectiles as in a game “Shoot‘ em up ”- which, by the way, makes direct reference to previous productions of Housemarque itself.
And the controls are really natural. It is a basic third-person shooter, with a button to jump, run, walk, shoot and aim. But this does not diminish in any way the charm that the style of the game presents and is not limited to the basic proposal.
But know that Returnal goes beyond mere fighting and exploration. The game has an intricate narrative with the main character and facts that unfold and control what the player sees. All of this accompanied by records on Selene’s ship, which give you an idea of how many enemies we killed, how much time we have, among other interesting data.
The PS5 factor
We can say that Returnal is one of the first major PS5 exclusives. I always like to remember that the console was launched in November 2020 with only two exclusives: Demon’s Souls Remake it’s the Astro’s Playroom. One of which was a remake of another game that already exists on the PS3!
Now, almost six months later, we see the console beginning to receive the first big promises. In the same way that Housemarque did with the PS4, with its Resogun, it is possible that Returnal has the potential to show what the video game is capable of – this is due to graphic and sound innovations, but also controls!
Returnal makes very good use of the PS5’s DualSense adaptive triggers and the joystick’s own intelligent vibration also comes into play in a reasonable way. It is not even necessary to highlight the graphs as much, since the images in this analysis speak for themselves. The game has ray tracing, 4K graphics, 60 frames per second and everything a new generation title needs to have.
In addition, it is possible to highlight the increase of the SSD, the storage of the PS5. It makes a difference in games like this, where the action is part of the gameplay. Opening doors running with Selene and seeing the scene appear instantly will surprise you every time it happens again. Returnal there is a feeling of speed, urgency and agility. And that is thanks to the technology of the console.
It is always a very difficult task to recommend new generation games, as they are expensive consoles and even more games – it is worth remembering that Returnal costs $ 70, that is, $ 10 more than the standard price of PS4 games and derivatives. Still, there are games that look like they’re designed to show what a console is capable of and justify your investment, Returnal fits here. If you want a game that lasts, has an extreme “replayability” factor and interesting exploration elements, this may be your investment for the month of May with the PS5. In Brazil, the official suggested price is R $ 350, but it can be found in promotions that vary between R $ 290 and R $ 300, it is worth noting.