Review of Returnal PS5: Space is too far away for anyone to hear your shrieking “DAMMIT, I DIE AGAIN!” “

Returnal PS5 review (Image: SONY)

Bluepoint’s Demon’s Souls remake was my sole goal, and I ended up getting a PS5 to satisfy that passion. The console has become an enormous and expensive ornament. Other than Astro’s Playroom (which I love), there aren’t any PS5 games that I care about.

Housemarque’s PS5 Exclusive Returnal was released immediately. I bought it even though I wasn’t certain how its bizarre mix of bullet-hell arcade action and third-person shooter would play. The game was a true masterpiece and consumed me for several weeks. As the main character is subject to terrible fate, so I’ll now try to tell you why this game kept me returning time and time again.

Returnal tells the story of Selene, an astronaut. This is a very rare example of a middle-aged woman protagonist. She crashes-land her spaceship Helios onto a distant planet while on a scouting mission. Atropos proves to be as hostile as an Xenomorph medbay, and everything moves fast to try to kill Selene.

It will murder her, as the game expects and intends for you to die many times. The twist is revealed by Selene’s first death. She experiences the trauma of the crash again, only this time to walk out into an alien, familiar, but oddly organized, world. Armed only with a basic pistol, she can begin exploring and fighting for her survival.

The Alien reference I made earlier was intentional, since the game clearly draws heavily from Ridley Scott’s films, but it also borrows more from Prometheus. __S.15__

Atropos has a hauntingly gorgeous visual style. The lighting and particle effects are at times breathtaking and you may forget to continue shooting. The game also runs smoothly despite all the visual splendor. __S.17__

Excellent creature design. The planet’s inhabitants are a strange mix of Lovecraftian biology, and mechanical parts. This is a nod towards HR Giger’s work.

You will also find a variety of ‘biomes’ in the game. There’s even some environmental storytelling. Each ‘run’ allows you to discover more about the planet and its inhabitants.

The plot’s true intrigue comes when Selene discovers her corpses scattered throughout Atropos and finds audio files that she doesn’t remember recording. The psychological terror is heightened when Selene discovers a replica of her Earth-bound home and enters a PT-like corridor.

PlayStation releases trailer for new game Returnal

Returnal’s greatest strengths are not its mysterious plot or the impressive visuals. It is more about its unrivaled joy in gameplay. Its controls are some of the most intuitive and user-friendly I’ve ever seen. You can do feats like bullet-dodging that were previously reserved for Guy Ritchie characters.

It’s hard to believe that I ever felt so happy after defeating a group of monsters like in Returnal. This is mainly because you can lose your entire energy bar and then be mercilessly kicked back to the crash location and start of another dangerous loop.

Consumables are the key to success. These can be obtained by trading one of the many in-game currencies or in return for a penalty. Returnal requires good judgement and skillful gunplay. After defeating a lot of hard enemies, should I use the ‘obolites collected in healing or weapon enhancements? Do I open the chest that has been infected by’malignancy? It might not be harmful, but it could cause a malfunction in my spacesuit.

You will lose all of your upgrades and items if you make the wrong decision.

The game’s beautiful and atmospheric sound design is a must. Bobby Krlic, of Midsommar fame among many other great compositions, also deserves a mention. Although his ethereal music can range from haunting melodies to chaotic assaults, it perfectly fits the game’s melancholy and fundamentally alien atmosphere.

Returnal is not without its hostilities, but it does offer small mercies. Some items and unlockables are available between runs, which includes (mercifully), the death of each biome’s graphically stunning but extremely difficult boss. There are shortcuts that allow you to jump sections or whole biomes once you have completed them. This made me happy, even though there is a growing need for it to be added. However, this would severely undermine gameplay and the intended challenge.

You’ll find that Souls fans will rejoice to hear that the game is hard and will take many hours before they roll. But when they do, it will make you feel so powerful that you will feel like a god.

The PS5 feels that Returnal is its second must-have purchase. It’s also the second highest-tier exclusive. This will hopefully be a preview of the many great features to come, especially now that Sony owns the developer. While I am eager to see more from Housemarque in the future, I will be content for now to enjoy Helios’ one-off run.


Jon Richter (writer of dark fiction, cohost of Dark Natter Podcast) reviewed this game. Follow Jon Richter on Twitter @RichterWrites and Instagram @jonrichterwrites or his official site.

Publited at Mon, 9 Aug 2021 11:00:00 +0000

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