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  • angadsingh06

Returnal – Review (PC)

Updated: Feb 21, 2023

OUR SCORE – 10/10

Housemarque is known for making high-quality bullet hell games. They gave us impressive titles like Resogun and Nex Machina. And now, after almost 2 years of its PS5 release, comes the PC version of Returnal. It is a great roguelite in a sci-fi skin, with a flavour of survival horror as well. Sounds for a good recipe on paper, right? It absolutely is!

You play as Selene, who has crash-landed on a far off planet teeming with mysterious flora and fauna and even vibrant landscapes. The mystery builds up quite well, taking you places, until you die. That’s when things get really interesting. You’ll find yourself on the receiving end of the death screen pretty often, what with the creatures and critters about to get you. And every time you die, you’ll find yourself back on the ship, devoid of all your progress and anything you might have picked up. The world resets itself, rearranging in different ways, and it’s up to you to find your way again.

What makes it even better, is that while exploring, you’ll come across corpses from previous runs, and some that you haven’t seen before at all. This includes logs of stuff you find has never happened to you. That is until now. The more you die, the more you explore, and the nightmare ensues.

To keep things fair, you do get to keep some permanent upgrades in your arsenal, though you do lose any weapon you pick up. And along with it goes the weapon proficiency you build, which enhances your skills to take down enemies.

Through relentless roguelike gameplay, you’ll discover that just as the planet changes with every cycle, so do the items at your disposal. Every loop offers new combinations, forcing you to push your boundaries and approach combat with a different strategy each time.

Brought to life by stunning visual effects, the dark beauty of the decaying world around you is packed with explosive surprises. From high stakes, bullet hell-fueled combat, to visceral twists and turns through stark and contrasting environments. You’ll explore, discover and fight your way through an unforgiving journey, where mystery stalks your every move.

Returnal for PC has full support for Ultrawide (21:9) and Super Ultrawide (32:9) aspect ratios, allowing players to experience the surreal alien environments. Support for a native 4K resolution presentation ensures Returnal on PC looks razor-sharp with highly detailed vertices and edges, while a whole new set of additional Ray Tracing options provide depth of reflection and lighting detail in Returnal on PC.

Returnal also features support for performance-enhancing technologies like NVIDIA DLSS, NVIDIA NIS, and AMD FSR2, allowing PC owners to squeeze every last ounce of performance out of their GPUs, it also includes an FPS counter, a GPU and CPU usage indicator and a latency tracker, allowing gamers to fine tune the experience to monitor performance.

Designed for extreme replayability, the procedural world of Returnal invites you to dust yourself off in the face of defeat and take on new, evolving challenges with every rebirth.

Telling a compelling story in such a strange setting can’t be easy, but Housemarque’s writers have managed well enough. We are provided objectives each time we venture out — beating a specific boss, finding a location — and the reward for accomplishing them is typically a tantalizing bit of exposition that sheds additional light on the alien world, its long gone people, and even Seline herself. It’s just enough to feel satisfying while whetting the player’s appetite for more.

That said, I’m not a big fan of Returnal‘s “bullet hell” enemy attacks. In the gaming world, bullet hell refers to enemies that spam enormous waves of bullets in complex patterns. If you don’t keep moving through the maze, you’re dead. The inclusion of a bullet hell element oughtn’t be a complete surprise, given Housemarque’s history with top-down shooters like Super Stardust HD, but it is a bit of a polarizing game mechanic. And I find this three dimensional version comes with the added difficulty of accurately judging depth and distance between incoming balls. Staying alive amid a veritable shower of glowing death balls ain’t easy.


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