Say what you will about Sony’s “attitude” this generation, but they keep pulling a seemingly infinite amount of rabbits out of their hat, this time what seems like it could be the birth of another powerful IP from a relatively unknown developer making games exclusively for them.
That would be Returnal, the sci-fi game that will be released just over a week from now, made by Housemarque, a Finish developer most famously behind 2013’s Resogun, but we’ve never seen them make anything quite like this before.
Returnal combines a bunch of different buzzword games together. Depending on who you ask it’s Hades meets Metroid meets Dark Souls, but at its core is a roguelike that is centered on a “die you restart” time loop as players acquire knowledge and skills to get past areas and explore the mysteries of the game.
Early previews for Returnal just dropped, as did the game’s first 17 minutes, which you can watch below:
As for what people are saying, I’ve heard nary a bad word about it:
And so on. In short, I’ve heard essentially zero bad things from anyone with a preview code (I do not have one).
Returnal is a PS5 game and only a PS5 game, which means you will need the ultra-rare console to play it, which is still sold out pretty much everywhere outside of a few random restocks. Much praise has been heaped on the game for its next-gen looks and features like feeling individual raindrops on the DualSense controller.
If Returnal is a hit, it will be yet another example of Sony investing in smaller studios until they blossom into making bit hits. Last generation alone we saw that with Sucker Punch (Ghost of Tsushima), Guerilla Games (Horizon Zero Dawn) and Insomniac (Spider-Man). Returnal may not reach that level of success, but at this point, I mean, who knows. If it’s good enough, anything’s possible, and it effectively has zero competition in this release window.
Returnal’s positioning as a mid-range exclusive title reminds me a bit of what Xbox had with The Medium, a game that was briefly delayed but in that case, it ended up arriving with relatively little fanfare, despite being a good showcase for Xbox’s power, flipping between its worlds. But it just didn’t make much of an impact, and a comparatively low 71 Metascore certainly didn’t indicate the arrival of an iconic Xbox IP. Returnal’s early buzz, however, seems like it could far more vaunted when it does debut. The main problem with Returnal, however, is that it’s essentially the opposite of a Game Pass debut, as it has a $70 price tag due to Sony’s new “let’s jack up the price of PS5 games” philosophy that no one else is on board with. So that could hurt it.
Sony makes great exclusives, that hasn’t changed. And they pull them from the strangest places, a lot of the time. We’ll see what mark Returnal makes when it arrives next week.
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Pick up my sci-fi novels the Herokiller series, and The Earthborn Trilogy, which is also on audiobook.