Previously known for their wildly successful twin-stick shooters, Returnal is a new PS5 exclusive from Housemarque that swaps the perspective to third-person and sees the shooting action enter the world of psychological horror. Players take on the role of Selene, a space pilot of the future who must use her suite of high-tech weaponry to defeat the masses of aliens coming at her. Setting it apart from other shooters are rogue-like elements because of Selene being trapped in a time loop.
Returnal is entirely set on a desolate planet constantly suffering from surrounding chaos and destruction. It’s your job to survive and try and find a way off it, traversing hazardous environments while trying to break out of the repetitive cycle. This all results in a unique blend of gameplay styles that aims to bring a unique type of action exclusively to PS5 players.
Returnal promises to take full advantage of the PlayStation 5 hardware, presenting its unique sci-fi world using crisp HDR visuals and impressive ray-traced lighting. An experience like this simply wouldn’t be able to run on PS4. The Dualsense controller will also be supported, providing haptic feedback and 3D spatial audio to better immerse PS5 players in the world of Returnal.
The game marks Housemarque’s first time venturing outside of the twin-stick shooter space, swapping the 2D or top-down field of view for a more cinematic third-person perspective. Returnal still folds in some arcade-like sensibilities, though, thanks to its Roguelike structure. Breaking out of this hostile alien planet is all about dying and retrying over and over again, enjoying a slightly different experience filled with new strategies every time.
Repeatedly attempting to escape the same planet never grows tiresome thanks to how Housemarque has approached weapons. There are 10 standard base guns to use, ranging from assault rifles to a shotgun, but all can be personalised with more than 90 different weapon traits (each with three levels) and 10 alt-fire options. Being adaptive is easy.
Returnal is a roguelike shooter which means that death is not the end, but really the beginning. Every failure sends Selene at the start of a time loop just before she crashed. Players shouldn’t despair at losing their progress, though, as certain traits and items collected on the previous cycle will carry over, giving you a leg up over the alien enemies compared to last time.
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