Review: Returnal

Posted on May 3, 2021 by David Rodriguez

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  • 9.2/10
    Total Score - 9.2/10


The intense, pulse pounding action experience Housemarque has crafted with Returnal is easily my favorite Playstation 5 game by far.

Developer – HouseMarque

Publisher – Sony Interactive Entertainment

Platforms – Playstation 5Price – $124.95

Review Copy provided by Sony AU

Before it’s release, Returnal had a lot of reviews all going into the games incredible transformation from the previous games Housemarque was known for.

The graphics and presentation of its story being completely different in its approach. The evolution of their classic, arcade style of gameplay. The twisting, rogue-like structure combined with it’s sci fi narrative pleasing critics across the world.

All of that is true, and it’s all riveting and helps Returnal evolve from cool looking twin stick action games to a fantastic rogue like action adventure.

A whole new meaning to corpse run”

The combat in general has been greatly changed from their older games. With the new over the shoulder camera, a dodge and invincible frame system and tons of awesome firepower bring heavy Metroid comparisons early on.

Returnal has a lot of features rogue-likes have implemented over the years, but never goes all the way in that direction. You can get XP, and you do retain some permanent upgrades but its not done through farming for XP or level ups.
It isn’t a game where you can power level to bypass challenge, thus the the action and difficulty remains pure.

Every combat encounter is designed and balanced according to what you will have on hand at that moment in the game. Every enemy moves with a purpose and as hard or impossible every battle seems you can always get through it.
Every tool and move in Selene’s set of skills and equipment is needed and pushed to the limits. The PS5 controller goes from being a neat gimmick to being pivotal for every encounter.

Each new area hides new mysteries”

Much like the the dodge roll in a Souls game, perfect timing and usage of your frames of invincibility are crucial to making it to the end.

Every combat encounter is a puzzle, between enemy types, your weapon set and being able to execute and have the dexterity to manage the crowd and single out threats as you whittle them down and persevere.

The story delivers as well, with a dark, very alien aesthetic that reminds me of Remedy’s style of story telling in a great way. It’s mysterious, but never gets in the way of the core gameplay and insane action.

“Selene is a fascinating character”

Visually, Returnal stuns, with a marriage of graphics and sound that truly feels like an experience you can only get on a next generation console.

This intense, pulse pounding action experience on top of all of the other things I have mentioned all add up to making Returnal my favorite Playstation 5 game so far, and one of my favorite action games of the last few years.

Don’t miss it, an easy front runner for game of the year.

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David Rodriguez is a former writer at Rectify Gaming.