Returnal is a PlayStation 5 powerhouse showing the true potential of the console with all the bells and whistles you could hope for.
Crashlanding on the unknown and creepy world of Atropos, Selene is forced to find a way off of the planet that just won’t let go.
Starting with a simple mission to find an unknown signal and evolving too so much more.
Returnal Video TimeStamps:
- Returning into Returnal (0:00)
- Exploring Atropos (1:10)
- Let’s Enter the House (22:50)
- Back to Exploring (28:45)
- Is Returnal Amazing? (42:50)
Table of Contents
- The PlayStation 5 Allows Returnal to Breathe
- Game Loop Over and Over Again
- Boss Fights and Something About a House?
- Is Returnal Amazing?
Let’s return as many times as it takes to discover whether Returnal is amazing or just another roguelike with a cycle that isn’t worth repeating.
The PlayStation 5 Allows Returnal to Breathe
Returnal is a masterclass in how to show all aspects of a console without being overbearing.
From simple things to feeling the different terrain beneath your feet with the DualSense. Each gun has a different vibration.
In the first biome of the game it’s always raining and foreboding so on top of the ground you also feel the rain hitting Selene, it’s awesome, to say the least.
No two weapons are equal each one feels different to use whether it be the adaptive triggers or even the grips rumble.
Hold the trigger halfway to aim and then fully zoom in, this adds a nice mix for the combat. Allow you to be engaged and feel like you are in the fight.
This evolves into each gun having a secondary attack that you can choose how to add to your fight.
When you die and a run needs to restart you watch a quick 5-second cutscene of Selene crashing into the planet and boom you’re back in the fight.
This continues to the teleporters throughout the run, just click where you want to go, and boom instantly loaded into that specific area so you can go another way or pick up a missed item.
Game Loop Over and Over Again
Back when this video was originally recorded before Patch 2.0 that allows you to save runs if the game had an update or you restarted the console you would just lose that run.
This has been resolved but it was a pain back when the game launched originally, I make note of this in the video (2:18) but it isn’t a problem anymore so I wanted to point it out.
Every run in Returnal you start with the pistol as a default as you make progress you will get permanent unlocks that stay with you forever.
This includes the melee weapon which can be used to gather material and the grapple hook to reach higher places. As well as others you find throughout your journey.
Every run is unique even though you may run into the same looking area as your last run the order will be completely different as so may the enemies.
All the runs feel unique and special, sort of like a mini or long story showcased in that run.
Some runs you may not make it a few rooms before losing but at the very least you’ll come out with something to show for it even if it’s just knowledge of what not to do.
As you progress through Returnal it will unlock more and more areas for each biome that you’ve never seen before. This makes earlier sections feel fuller and more fun rather than repetitive.
As you progress you’ll find glyphs and ciphers to help decode and translate alien languages, it helps bring the world to life.
There is no ammo thankfully so you are free to test the waters in any fight without the fear of getting stuck it’s a bullet hell shooter.
There’s a Gears of War active reload, tons of bullets flying every which way, quick dodge, a kill count multiplier where you do more damage the better you play, better weapons constantly, upgrades, and even downgrades.
This may sound like a lot of things but they all mesh together well and feel coherent and when you’re in the zone you’ll make snap decisions.
Adrenaline is a big part of the overall gameplay to Returnal the more enemies you take out the higher it goes and only drops if you take damage.
It’s a fun system that keeps you on you’re toes and will allow you to become extremely powerful if you’re run is going well.
Another aspect is the chests throughout the world and biomes that you’ll come in contact with, usually with some downsides.
They are a high risk-reward but almost always worth opening as you’ll get a higher grade weapon or a powerful upgrade that will help you in your run.
If you find a Malignant container then it will damage your suit in some way or give you a task to complete to fix it. You may also get lucky and come out clean with your new piece of gear, it’s random.
At 7:40 in the video, the chest I open gives me an upgraded version of the gun I’m currently using, however, I now suffer damage when I collect an item. Was it worth it, probably not; I am not a big fan of the Rotgland Lobber. To fix it I need to collect an Artifact to fix my suit. Risk as well as reward always keeping you on your toes.
Diving a little deeper you have consumables as well as run-standing items, you can only hold a few consumables at a time so it’s a use it or loses it situation.
The last thing to point out is the currency as this is per run and can be used to purchase single-run upgrades. Ether can be used to clean up chests from malignant and the like.
Boss Fights and Something About a House?
The boss fights in Returnal are always great milestones and put you to the test.
The best part is that you can skip some of them if you’ve beaten them before as you can just find the next biome teleporter instead of the boss’s lair.
Big health bar, tons of bullets, and the first boss sets the tone for further into the game itself, if you aren’t prepared or are having a good run then odds are you’re run is ending here.
The further you get into a run the more ruthless the bosses become and the first one sets the bar.
Let’s take a detour and go into an old and creepy house that holds most of the secrets that the game has to offer.
I won’t go too deep with everything about the house because it’s probably the best part of the entire game in my opinion.
Going into the first person you walk around a house PT style to explore, pick up random objects, and get some lore that’s just as confusing as everything else in the game.
You learn a bit about Selene’s back story along with some of the coolest setpieces.
There is a constant throughout with the astronaut that follows you around but I won’t say anything because I don’t want to dare spoil the payoff.
After every house visit, you do get a permanent upgrade so it’s always worth doing if you run into the house.
For example in the video at 28:50 I got a Music Box that plays a sound when secrets are nearby which was useful.
Is Returnal Amazing?
Returnal is amazing, not a doubt in my mind especially after Patch 2.0 was released to fix the major glaring flaw with the saved runs.
Taking into account all the other Roguelikes I have played (Enter the Gungeon, Dead Cells, Rogue Legacy, Spelunky, and Don’t Starve to name a few) Returnal is the new gold standard.
Taking all the perks of running off the PlayStation 5 hardware and utilizing them in fun and adaptive ways brings this to the forefront of a great game as well as a fantastic gameplay experience.
The original game to impress me this much was Astros playroom when looking at the PlayStation 5 and DualSense.
Having runs that could last a few minutes to a couple of hours is what makes the entire package so special and always a dice roll.