If you love the Super Metroid, Castlevania-type games, it’s very likely Returnal will be your cup of tea. Bear in mind though, unlike those games, Returnal’s also a roguelike, so when you die, you will have to restart. That means doing everything all over again, though you can skip bosses that you’ve killed. Despite this frustrating mechanic, the game just has the right incentive to keep you playing for hours — such as finding new loot, weapons, or just a new room to explore.
- Exclusive to the PS5
- A lot of replayability
- Amazing sound design
- Roguelike gameplay can be punishing
Returnal’s concept is actually pretty simple. Your character, Selene, has crashed on a mysterious alien planet Atropos. The aim is to explore and find a way to fix your ship and get off the planet. Through mysterious alien ways, the planet you’re on shifts every time you die and return. That means the room placements are different each game, though the rooms can be the same. You can dash, jump, grapple (in the later parts of the game). There are also items that can give you bonuses, and, or penalties. Fights with amazing looking monsters play out like a bullet-hell scenario, and will see you ducking and weaving a lot. The environments, which can range from ruins, deserts to frozen wastes, look really good.
The game makes full use of the PS5’s capabilities. It runs smoothly at 60fps with no stutter or lag. Returnal also uses the DualSense controller well, letting you half-press the L2 button to aim or toggle the alt-fire mode of a weapon. The haptic feedback also really works well to make you feel like you’re in the game, from delicate step-like vibrations to heavy buzzes when you launch a powerful alt-fire attack. It’s super immersive and one of the game’s highlights. If you’re using the Pulse 3D headset, it’s even better, since the spatial 3D sound helps you locate threats.
I’ll be the first to admit I’m not very good at this game. I make silly decisions jumping off cliffs or trying to push the limit of my health. But Returnal doesn’t mind. You just pick yourself up and go at it again, hopefully learning from your mistakes. I have yet to beat even the first boss unlike better players, but that’s fine. It took me a while to figure out how to beat the bosses in Supergiant’s roguelike Hades, but I got there eventually. Do note that you can’t save at all, and one run can take a long time, so pray the game doesn’t crash.
Returnal for the Sony PlayStation 5 is an amazing experience. It’s hard, but packed with enough moments to keep you hooked even after countless restarts. This game is a definite can buy, and will probably go on the list as one of the best PS5 games yet. You can get it for S$97.90 from Shopee, Lazada, or even cheaper at Amazon.
Note: Review copy provided by Sony.