Returnal, Housemarque's Finest
The first major PlayStation 5 Exclusive since launch, Returnal, just dropped I’ve had some time to give it a go, or two…
Returnal, a dark Sci-Fi game set on a strange planet that is stuck in a time loop. With ever-changing environments and psychological torture, is it daft to purchase a souls-like game and expect to have a good time?
Well, I did, and I most certainly enjoyed it. This PS5 exclusive has critics crying out with generally positive reviews, so without further ado lets crack on with the review.
This last year has somewhat felt like Returnal. Stuck in our houses, doomed to repeat the daily routine, the glimmer of hope that is the end of lockdown being repeatedly yanked away from us, forcing us to relive yet another loop of monotony.
Housemarque took this concept, 'spaced' it up, and somehow created something which is fun, intriguing and addictive.
As an Astra Scout, the player takes control of the character, Selene, as she uncovers the mystery and explores the ever-changing world around her.
After crash landing on the planet Atropos, Selene finds herself stuck in a time loop. (think Doctor Strange but more spaceships) where not all is as it seems. From uncovering the vast history of the planet to meeting the alien creatures that wish to harm you, the player (that’s you!) has a lot to watch out for in this contender early for GOTY!
Let’s start with some graphical appreciation, at a first glance you would think, “ah just another run-of-the-mill 3rd person shooter”, but if you take the time (which I did) to look at the scenery and art style you can see that the procedurally generated world is in fact alive. Rich with alien creatures, monumental landmarks, and other worldly shrubbery, Returnal has made its impact.
Overall, the graphical side of things appear to be an absolute winner, but will that be enough to compete with this year’s games line-up? With Biomutant and the hugely anticipated Resident Evil Village.
At upscaled 4K, stable 60FPS with raytracing it’s certainly a treat for the eyes. But it is in the other senses that Returnal really shines. The 3D audio and the haptic feedback. Both in themselves amazing and together they totally immerse the player into the world of Atropos.
Creating the feeling of rain upon your hands with the magic of the new DualSense controller, feeling each drops they fall. And the audio! Get lost in the hauntingly beautiful sound and soundtrack of the planet and its slimy inhabitants.
I played straight for 3 solid hours just for the audio and the haptic controller, I was totally immersed in the game and 100% focused, despite the constant deaths.
GOTY? Truly, Returnal has earnt a place in my line-up.
With the uniquely intriguing visuals and epic audio, I won’t be surprised if this game gets green lit for a movie, like Sony is already doing with Uncharted and The Ghost of Tsushima franchises!
Now, the price tag. Priced at £69.99 RRP, there has been much debate as to whether Returnal is worth this premium. Being the first output from Housemarque to be considered AAA calibre and being in a gaming niche that may not be favourable to the casual gamer, some feel this is a high price to ask.
Whether a game is worth its price is of course subjective, for me Returnal is more than deserving. Charting at number 2 just behind Pokémon Snap, I’d say many others feel the same too.
So, does Sony knock it out of the park? Absolutely, this unique and ingenious game stands up to the likes of Uncharted and The Last of Us.
A must play for the story, the graphical development, the immersive sound and haptics and above all else the procedurally generated environments which keeps this game fresh with every play through.
One note of caution, some players have complained about their save files being corrupted and about the lack of save options, however both cries have been heard and the devs are working to fix and incorporate these features!
Jump into the loop with us by purchasing Returnal for PS5.
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