Returnal - Reviews & Impressions

Avatar image for glots
glots

5039

Forum Posts

74

Wiki Points

0

Followers

Reviews: 0

User Lists: 0

#1  Edited By glots

Hear ye, hear ye, a new PS5 exclusive (first one since...Destruction AllStars in february?) is almost here, delivered by Housemarque.

The previews already seemed quite glowing and the final reviews fortunately seem very positive in general as well!

I was already somewhat in before the previews, just because the game seemed intriguing and I've enjoyed Housemarques games in the past, but after having read positive buzz from multiple sources and hearing the GB dudes being somewhat into it as well, I'm more than ready to dive in. It's probably going to kick my ass with it's difficulty, but at least I know what I'm getting into.

I feel like the one thing that I'd count as a negative - if my life situation would be different - is the lack of save feature. I mean, I would still prefer to have one, but my days are quite schedule free after work, so I can usually dedicate a couple of hours for playing and/or just use the rest mode, if something does happen and I need to leave urgently.

Avatar image for humanity
Humanity

21791

Forum Posts

5738

Wiki Points

0

Followers

Reviews: 40

User Lists: 16

Great that it is getting good reviews, hopefully it also sells well so that the next big thing we see from Housemarque won't be some really pretty Last of Us 2 multiplayer maps. Looking through some of these reviews yah it's pretty much a roguelite and I know myself well enough that it's a style of gameplay I can't get down with but it's good to see it evolve out of the indie sphere.

Avatar image for reap3r160
reap3r160

485

Forum Posts

0

Wiki Points

0

Followers

Reviews: 0

User Lists: 0

I was going to get it anyway. Partly because I am 100% in that boat of "I need games to justify my ps5 that use its featurs", but it's awesome to see the positive early reception.

I haven't played much on Xbox yet or PC that does it well, but the lighting in this looks awesome. In the unfinished the glowing tentacle monsters gave off a really amazing glow. I noticed the same thing in Demon's Souls in the Tower. I don't know what tech gave them the ability to create such great lighting effects, without even using RTX cores, but it makes me super excited for the coming years in games.

Avatar image for banefirelord
BaneFireLord

4021

Forum Posts

638

Wiki Points

0

Followers

Reviews: 0

User Lists: 6

I’m glad it’s reviewing well...Housemarque seems like a studio that deserves to have good things to happen to it. However, I don’t think I’ve ever seen a game that is quite so very much my jam from a thematic and story standpoint (time loops, sci-fi horror, weird fiction elements) and yet so extremely not my thing on a mechanics level (roguelike/lite bullet hell shooter). The Eurogamer review’s characterization of it as a game actively hostile to being played to the extent the reviewer, despite loving a lot about it, never got to the end confirms that this is definitely not a journey I want to go on. More power to everyone who’s into that, though!

Avatar image for mrcheese
mrcheese

20

Forum Posts

0

Wiki Points

0

Followers

Reviews: 0

User Lists: 0

#5 mrcheese  Online

Yeah that "No save during the run" is a complete deal breaker for me unfortunately.

We do need more current generation games though so good on Housemarque for delivering.

Avatar image for malibuprofen
MalibuProfen

139

Forum Posts

0

Wiki Points

0

Followers

Reviews: 0

User Lists: 0

#6  Edited By MalibuProfen

It is good to see that Housemarque - the makers of one of the ten(ish) best games of all time, according to me, in Supreme Snowboarding - have a potentially very successful game in their hands with this game. At least the critics seem to be mostly enraptured by it from the things I've heard and read. Hopefully the audience gravitates towards it as well.

Avatar image for meierthered
MeierTheRed

6081

Forum Posts

1701

Wiki Points

0

Followers

Reviews: 0

User Lists: 0

I'm very interested in seeing the public opinions of this game in say a week or two.

Avatar image for big_denim
Big_Denim

1106

Forum Posts

30

Wiki Points

0

Followers

Reviews: 6

User Lists: 1

Looks cool, but the lack of a save feature is a deal breaker for me.

1.) I have a toddler so I only get one or two nights a week where my gaming session is longer than an hour or two.

2.) I like bouncing between a few different games at a time. I usually have one or two MP games I play with my friends, a longer RPG, and one run-based game like this to sprinkle in between the other two. The whole "just use rest mode" argument doesn't work well with my playstyle.

It seems like this is a fairly common critique so hopefully Housemarque will listen and patch it in. I don't see any reason not to. The folks arguing that it's a "staple of the genre" just come off as elitist in my opinion.

Avatar image for nodima
Nodima

3591

Forum Posts

24

Wiki Points

0

Followers

Reviews: 13

User Lists: 0

To be clear: does the game not suspend in place? That would be weird, as all the staples of the genre (Dead Cells, Hades, Rogue Legacy) will just sit where you left them until you have time to get back to them. I can't tell you how many Hades runs I've had end right at the door to the Hades fight only for me to have to go to work, which is great because it means I get to put off getting my ass kicked by him yet again for several hours.

Avatar image for big_denim
Big_Denim

1106

Forum Posts

30

Wiki Points

0

Followers

Reviews: 6

User Lists: 1

@nodima: You can suspend the game. You can’t turn off the PS5 or switch to another game without losing your progress for the current run though.

Avatar image for brosacea
Brosacea

2

Forum Posts

0

Wiki Points

0

Followers

Reviews: 0

User Lists: 0

A lot of reviews are calling it a creepy game- wonder if that's solely the creepiness of waiting for your next electric bill after you've left the PS5 in rest mode for weeks on end because you were in a the middle of a run and life got too busy.

Avatar image for humanity
Humanity

21791

Forum Posts

5738

Wiki Points

0

Followers

Reviews: 40

User Lists: 16

@big_denim: As someone that has made the "quality of life" critique of some popular "git gud" games with passionate fanbases I can tell you that those comments are not welcome and you will get instantly shouted down.

Avatar image for ben_h
Ben_H

4470

Forum Posts

1618

Wiki Points

0

Followers

Reviews: 1

User Lists: 5

#13  Edited By Ben_H

@big_denim said:

@nodima: You can suspend the game. You can’t turn off the PS5 or switch to another game without losing your progress for the current run though.

Yeah this is indeed a complete deal breaker. And people saying that not being able to continue a run from save is a staple of the genre are full of shit. I've played tons of roguelikes/lites and pretty much all of them have some type of "resume run" feature. Off the top of my head I know Binding of Isaac does, as does Hades, Dead Cells, FTL, and many others. It's really silly that people are trying to make excuses for this game not including quality of life features that have been standard in similar games for a decade now.

Avatar image for reap3r160
reap3r160

485

Forum Posts

0

Wiki Points

0

Followers

Reviews: 0

User Lists: 0

Only got to the first boss(and got wrecked) so only maybe 3 hours in or so. But I'm really digging it.

The story is right up my alley, the mechanics all feel tight and great. The risk/reward aspect of various items seems well balanced. Nothing so far has seemed broken, in a good or bad way.

The no saving mid run thing really isn't that big of a deal imo. I died a few times on my way to the boss and there was nothing I got in any run that I felt like I would be crushed if I lost. Maybe I'm just not good enough at rogue likes, but I've never felt like I've had a run that needed to be saved. Each one was always similar enough to the last. I actually didn't even know you could save mid run in stuff like dead cells or hades.

With the core of rogue likes being that each and every run is different and no real "progress" is lost necessarily upon death makes the idea of a "perfect run" something I've always found to be strange.

I totally understand why some people might not like that aspect. But to suddenly turn Returnal into a "bad game" because of that(not here, but I've definitely seen elsewhere) is a bit much.

Avatar image for bigsocrates
bigsocrates

4426

Forum Posts

121

Wiki Points

0

Followers

Reviews: 0

User Lists: 0

@reap3r160: I have to disagree with this pretty strongly. I have played roughly as much as you, but I was able to beat the first boss on my first try, despite not being very good at the game because I got a parasite that allowed me to regenerate health up to about 25%, which let me tank 1 hit from the boss and then regenerate that health in a couple seconds. That meant that even though I couldn't get the timing on some of the attacks right to dodge, as long as I kept my distance and only got hit once in a while I was able to burn him down.

That shows just how important your RNG equipment can be in this game, and why saving mid-run would be a very useful feature. Also the "ether" permanent currency is super rare so if you spend some of that and have to cut your run short that would really suck. It can take multiple runs to save up enough for a single spend.

My overall impressions of the game are that it looks really nice, controls really well, and is mostly fun but I really wish it were not a roguelite. Like I REALLY wish it were not a roguelite.

It's not just that I'm not a superfan of the structure. I have enjoyed a bunch of roguelites in the past, including shooter roguelites like Ziggurat and Immortal Redneck, so I'm not opposed to those kinds of games. The problem with Returnal is that it isn't paced like a roguelite. Despite having fast action and lots of twitchy bullet hell stuff it's a very slow and methodical game. There's a ton of empty space in all the levels and a lot of "downtime" spent running from one place to another and collecting resources and the like. That means that runs, especially runs where you're trying to power up so you can actually progress, take a very long time and are pretty boring. You just spend a lot of time running through these sort of empty labyrinthine maze areas that look great but become samey very quickly. And the weapon variety just flat out sucks. I hate the shotgun, the pistols and the assault rifle feel pretty similar, and the heat seeking weapon is fine but isn't anything special. There is some variation in the alt-fires, but not enough to make a huge difference and the recharge on alt-fire is slllloooooowwwww so you'll be using your main fire the majority of the time.

That means that you don't get the wild variation in gameplay from run to run that you would in something like Enter the Gungeon or Hades or even the aforementioned Ziggurat and Immortal Redneck. This might be because Returnal is a much more precise game than those were, so you can't really have silly or slow weapons, but it still makes the Roguelite aspects a real drag in a way they weren't in those games. I am still finding a lot of artifacts that I didn't have before and other new stuff, but it tends to just be things like "25% chance of retaining a key after use" which is a useful item, but doesn't provide any gameplay variation.

Everything else about the game is great. It's atmospheric, it runs well, the combat is intense and visceral (which may seem to conflict with the boring statement, except you spend about 25% of the game in combat and the rest just running around collecting stuff or trying to move forward because the areas are so huge) the alien vistas have a real style to them and the game uses the Dualsense pretty well. I have a feeling I'm never going to finish this because the repetitiveness will grind me down, but I enjoy the mechanical underpinnings of the game. If the progression were a bit quicker or there were more variation I might stick with it, but going back through the same areas over and over is a slog, especially because there also isn't great enemy variation. I think there are like half a dozen or so enemies per area.

The story is so far much more atmospheric than anything else. There's a lot of vague hints at Selene's past and about what's going on but nothing solid, and it tries to be mysterious and not really let the player in to what's going on, just throws terms around and focused on the emotions. That's fine for what it is but it doesn't really grab me and I don't care about the game's central mysteries at all.

Overall I think this game is tuned to be too punishing for the majority of players. Progression is too slow, runs take too long, there's not enough variety, and it's pretty tough, though far from the most difficult game I've ever played (you can take a bunch of hits before you die, there's a fair amount of health around, and as I said I beat the first boss on my first try and I'm not great at these games.) I think Housemarque went with a roguelite structure because that's sort of their design philosophy and also because they are a small studio and could not produce enough content for a full 15-20 hour campaign, but they didn't tune it well for a roguelite. It's a well made game and for people who are really good at it or just have a high tolerance for repetition it's going to be great, but I hope they tinker with the progression systems and at least add in run saves so more people can enjoy it.

Their response so far of "we'll think about it" is not at all encouraging.

Avatar image for djredbat
djredbat

254

Forum Posts

0

Wiki Points

0

Followers

Reviews: 0

User Lists: 0

Avatar image for bigsocrates
bigsocrates

4426

Forum Posts

121

Wiki Points

0

Followers

Reviews: 0

User Lists: 0

@djredbat: You misunderstand. The issue is not that there aren't enough numbers of weapon, it's that they don't really feel distinct. In a game like Enter the Gungeon your playstyle will vary radically depending on your weapon. Returnal plays pretty much the same regardless of the weapon you have. The weapon traits don't make a big difference either. Some are kind of useful and some are less useful but they're often things like "more damage but slower rate of fire" on an assault rifle, which doesn't change anything. A few of them do semi-interesting things but mostly they're just slight variations.

The fact that one shotgun variation that makes the shotgun more like the other weapons (by turning it into a straight projectile) exists doesn't fix the shotgun (since most variations suck) it just means sometimes it's useful, but doesn't actually create variety the way most shotguns do (by encouraging hit and run tactics and for you to get up in enemy grills.)

This wouldn't be a problem if Returnal were a normal shooter, but Roguelites need runs to play different from one another so they don't get monotonous and in Returnal you're playing pretty much the same no matter what you have.

The same problems apply to artifacts, consumables, and parasites. They do useful things, but they aren't things that make you play differently.

Avatar image for glots
glots

5039

Forum Posts

74

Wiki Points

0

Followers

Reviews: 0

User Lists: 0

After 9 or 10 loops and 15 hours played, this might just be my GOTY so far. Not that there hasn't been many other games to compete other than Hitman 3, but I'm really enjoying my time with Returnal.

I can see a lot of variables that would've made the experience way less enjoyable for me, though. My game hasn't crashed once yet, which, especially after happening multiple times, I could see putting someone off from the game either until a patch attempts to fix it or just completely. Also just like in Hades (my only other roguelike example I've put a lot of time into), sometimes you just get terrible rooms and just as bad boons/powers several times and even when that game encourages people when they also fail, that can be very off-putting.

My second run in Returnal lasted 4-5 hours and I beat the first boss and made it to the mid-phase of the second boss. After that I didn't even make it out of the first biome for multiple runs, died some ways into the second biome and then did first biome again couple of times. Then things clicked and I beat the second, third and fourth biome in a single session and it was exhilarating. It was like one of those Hades runs where you become near instoppable, though there were still a lot of times I almost died or got saved by an artifact.

I was having fun before that too, just because I love how it feels to play this game, even when I didn't make progress on some runs and wished that you'd get at least something with you from those besides ether. I'm not sure if it's going to keep me entertained for 45 hours like Hades did, but so far despite some of the issues, I'm very much enjoying my time with.

-

Outside all of that, I also like the story and just love how everything looks and sounds. The third biome especially was something I enjoyed. I haven't really played many games with only headphones on before, but Returnal has been a blast with 3D audio.

Avatar image for bigsocrates
bigsocrates

4426

Forum Posts

121

Wiki Points

0

Followers

Reviews: 0

User Lists: 0

I got through the second area and the game does open up somewhat at that point. There are some weapons that do lend themselves to a different playstyle (like a poison grenade launcher that does damage over time) and the enemies and terrain of the third area are significantly different.

The game is very weirdly balanced and I wonder whether it's going to go through significant changes. Malignant items and parasites are almost never worth messing with, running through earlier levels is a weird combination of useless (since your weapon level will be rebalanced when you get to a new area) and very useful (because you will be able to build health and collect artifacts and suit stat bonuses) but also lengthy and tedious, and gives basically no long term bonuses. I think the game's unfriendliness and at times downright cruelty is intentional, and I can respect it, but it can still be offputting in a game that is otherwise really good. It will be really interesting to look at completion rates in a month or so and see how many people stick with it.

Avatar image for karlhungus01
KarlHungus01

116

Forum Posts

0

Wiki Points

0

Followers

Reviews: 0

User Lists: 0

Love the game, but the lack of a resume feature is really dampening my enthusiasm. I've had 3 lengthy runs into the first area get bricked from crashes and it makes me not want to play it when that happens.

It's kind of unbelievable to me that a roguelike, especially one where runs can be this long, ships in 2021 without the ability to resume a run so you can play a different game or recover from a crash or auto-update.

Avatar image for karlhungus01
KarlHungus01

116

Forum Posts

0

Wiki Points

0

Followers

Reviews: 0

User Lists: 0

#21  Edited By KarlHungus01

@big_denim said:

The folks arguing that it's a "staple of the genre" just come off as elitist in my opinion.

Not just elitist, but completely disingenuous. Lots of roguelikes allow you to quit the game and resume a run. One-sitting runs haven't been a staple of the genre for years now, and maybe ever.

I remember being obsessed with Dungeons of Dredmor back in 2011. Runs could last a really long time in that game too, and you could save and resume no problem.

Avatar image for noboners
noboners

538

Forum Posts

0

Wiki Points

0

Followers

Reviews: 0

User Lists: 0

So, I'm REALLY enjoying Returnal so far. I think every complaint anyone has is valid as hell, but the game's very fun and I luckily haven't gotten any crashes. So the level of fun has outweighed any of the questionable decisions.

I've gotten pretty deep into the 2nd area and then just decided that I was done playing for the day and let myself die a couple of times. I think I enjoy playing so much that I don't really mind when I die? And I am really into the slight story crumbs that you find on subsequent runs. I am worried that rolling through the game too quickly may cause me to miss some story beats (or have them pop in a nonsensical order... which is something that happened to me in Hades) so I don't mind dying after having a new discovery made during a run.

And like it's been mentioned earlier, I think the proficiency bonus they give you at the beginning of each world brings you enough up to speed. Like, I'll sometimes just run through biome 1 in order to grab one weapon and some health upgrade and then immediately pass through the gate.

Lastly, I like the daily challenges. I am curious if they are gonna use different biomes for them though? So far the only two I've done were from the first zone.

But it will still be interesting to see how this game evolves over the next few weeks/months.

Avatar image for bigdirtyphil
bigdirtyphil

6

Forum Posts

2

Wiki Points

0

Followers

Reviews: 0

User Lists: 0

#23  Edited By bigdirtyphil

@noboners said:

Lastly, I like the daily challenges. I am curious if they are gonna use different biomes for them though? So far the only two I've done were from the first zone.

I'm pretty sure you unlock potential new daily challenges based on which zones you've "beaten" one-time-through. I've gotten a notification or some kind of UI thing on my screen saying "hey you unlocked some new challenge sets" or something like that, and I've done daily challenges in the first 4 biomes so far.

Avatar image for noboners
noboners

538

Forum Posts

0

Wiki Points

0

Followers

Reviews: 0

User Lists: 0

@bigdirtyphil: Okay cool. I was hoping that was the case. Thanks for the info!

Avatar image for glots
glots

5039

Forum Posts

74

Wiki Points

0

Followers

Reviews: 0

User Lists: 0

I really hope their suggestion to turn off automatic updates so the game won’t close itself upon being updated during rest mode isn’t going to be their only solution to the lack of save feature.

Avatar image for glots
glots

5039

Forum Posts

74

Wiki Points

0

Followers

Reviews: 0

User Lists: 0

#26  Edited By glots

Saw the credits roll (for the first time, I assume there's alternate ending(s) too) after 23 hours.

Despite some small flaws and a couple of big ones, I really enjoyed my time with Returnal. The gameplay felt great the whole time and the visuals were amazing. I've certainly paid as much for gaming experiences that were considerably less enjoyable and shorter, so no qualms about the price of this one from me.

I've no idea how Returnal has done in terms of copies sold, but I hope it'll be a success, so Housemarque has a reason to keep tweaking it and maybe adding some additional content eventually.

...also don’t update your copy of Returnal, apparently.

Avatar image for glots
glots

5039

Forum Posts

74

Wiki Points

0

Followers

Reviews: 0

User Lists: 0

Things have been a bit quiet here, huh? Admittedly I’ve also only played the game maybe twice after seeing the credits, though that’s partly to blame on Village coming out.

It’s disheartening to read about the game still crashing for so many people after a number of patches, even more so when the crashes have also taken down the console itself, so I wouldn’t be surprised if that has still put off a number of people from playing it. It’s surprising too for a Housemarque game, but I guess a new platform and their biggest game ever has brought along a whole new set of technical challenges to tackle.

While I never had crashes during the +23 hours I played (I’m kinda scared of it eventually happening), it’s not the only reasons besides RE that I haven’t picked Returnal back up. There’s still some story stuff to uncover, but outside of that there’s very little new to reel me back in constantly. Daily challenges are there, but those only reward ether and are sometimes too sadistically hard for my taste.

So, I hope they will eventually add new content, whatever it’s scrambling the maps around, adding different modes or doing something completely new, because I would happily take more reasons to continue playing Returnal.

Avatar image for luminaryghost
LuminaryGhost

78

Forum Posts

0

Wiki Points

0

Followers

Reviews: 0

User Lists: 0

@glots I’m still here playing it! I picked it up at the same time I picked up Spider-Man: Miles Morales, so both games have been keeping me busy — and Miles Morales is my go to when I want something less chaotic than Returnal.

I love Returnal so far and I’m hoping Housemarque can patch the game up nicely in the next few weeks (squashing those crashes/bugs, though I haven’t experienced many myself) and maybe add a save per run as a solution to people’s complaints about the lack of a save system — though I personally don’t find this to be a big deal.

I just finished up Biome 2 last night and got the hookshot item, so I’m looking forward to continuing my run to Biome 3 and I’m almost certain there’s a shortcut to it in Biome 1 now that I have the hookshot.

Avatar image for nodima
Nodima

3591

Forum Posts

24

Wiki Points

0

Followers

Reviews: 13

User Lists: 0

Hey, it's almost Game of the Year time...let's read the room here, yeah? Somehow this game feels like it came out last summer even though the PS5 didn't yet exist in the material world, to the point I'm beginning to wonder just how much it will factor into various publications' year-end wrap-ups. The replies to my post earlier in this thread (as well as not owning a PS5 at that time) ultimately scared me off of this game for a long time, but I got it for $40 during a recent holiday sale on PSN and I gotta say...

Like @noboners said, I think just about every complaint about this game is somewhat valid, though I think meeting it on its own terms goes a long way. I can tell I'm playing this game a bit differently than some (hurriedly, I believe, is the word) as I don't think I've had many runs last more than 2-ish hours, or if I have the time has absolutely melted away into a fugue state of slowly encroaching orbs, rings and the monsters who expel them. I've seen the final boss once and so very almost beat it, like a sliver of health away when I just made a dumb mistake as I'm wont to do, but otherwise done 27 runs with varying levels of success and I'm still really having a good time.

The most important things this game needs to get right, it got very right. All but two or three of the enemies feel exceptionally fair in their design, but also stupendously devious in the timing of their attacks and how they constantly alter the battleground. There are runs were certain enemies are pushovers and some where they're the bane of my existence and that's almost entirely dependent on my weapon and its power-ups as well as my general mental composition at the time. For me, that makes the exploration bits pretty satisfying because there's still nothing happier than opening a room and discovering it's going to fabricate exactly the item you want, or coming across a hot sequence of resin and a decent gun then plowing onward to the third biome straight away to get your kicks.

If I had any complaints about this game right now, it'd probably be that the third biome's enemies are, uh, not nice to you in a way that's really overwhelming having only experienced it twice so far, a feeling that's compounded exponentially by the fact that on your second visit they don't sugarcoat the path to the final boss (or, y'know, something like that) at all. I'm writing after having a run that was truly exhilirating, constantly balancing nearly dying with health items and timely upgrades and vitality stations, only to find I just couldn't handle how busy the Citadel was the way I had the first time and trying to sprint my way to the boss only to meet a gauntlet on the bridge that took me out just as I was about to cross the rubicon. That stank!

And yet...I think I'll just start another run...

Avatar image for noboners
noboners

538

Forum Posts

0

Wiki Points

0

Followers

Reviews: 0

User Lists: 0

I actually got stuck on the third world and got distracted by another game in the mean time. And then another. And another. I'll get back to it this month though because I enjoy the shooting in it. I just have a hard time seeing some of the enemy rockets, so I was never able to figure out how to counter/dodge them.

I think this will end up more as an "honorable mention" for my own personal list than a numbered entry. But depending how the rest of the year plays out, it could sneak it's way in there.

Avatar image for tartyron
tartyron

503

Forum Posts

0

Wiki Points

0

Followers

Reviews: 0

User Lists: 0

#31  Edited By tartyron

I can't say a review per say as I don't have a PS5, but the premise intrigued me enough to watch all the cut scenes on youtube edited as best it could to be movie-like. And I liked all of what I saw there, just the right sort of mixed themes of space and psychological horror with a decent spooky vibe. Now, when playing and dying over and over again, I don't know if that remains true for the player as that can really break immersion, even when it's story justified.

It was thinking of this that made me realize that all these time loop games this year are just an inevitable narrative conclusion based on the rise in popularity of roguelikes. Time loops are exactly what roguelikes are, when you think on it. I'm hardly the first to notice, in fact I'm probably late to the party, but Returnal was the game that made me put it together, and I didn't even play it.