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Returnal review
by Watashama

What a phenomenal experience and showcase of PS5 hardware. The game is difficult to the extreme and in my opinion doesn't offer enough ways to carry progression or even teach players what does progress (*hint - its the guns, but the game never tells you that). 

I started out loving it because I had some lucky runs, then quickly grew to despise it by the end. Mechanically I wasn't doing much wrong I just wasn't getting the rolls I needed or was getting spammed by the hardest fights in the game (b5 and b6 mini-bosses). 

Overall a great experience that I am happy to be done with. 
«Blew my mind»
«Can’t stop playing»
«Constantly dying and enjoy it»

Other reviews6

a bill murray away from perfection
I like the opening. It’s hard. I’ve died a lot but the gameplay feels good and I like the style. Just need to start to figure out the roguelite mechanics.

I’m liking it. I got out of the first biome. Just barely beat the boss but did it on my first try. I eventually died after picking up the super high fire rate machine gun. I wasn’t a fan. The projectiles are too slow or they lock on funny or something but the shotgun and carbine were better.

I had a successful run on my second day. I was pumped. I’m quite good. I used the carbine. I think it’s the best gun so far. There is obviously more to the game, I didn’t actually “beat it” but I beat the first part without having to try multiple attempts on the final two bosses. Not too shabby.

The game looks good, feels good, sounds good and  has an interesting setting/story. It’s really well done. 

This game is awesome. I loved the house scene where you are a kid. I’m interested to see who this astronaut is. The old forest was cool. The piano player boss was cool. Now I’m on to the frozen world which I’m liking. I’ve also realized that the real permanent upgrades come from getting new and upgraded gun perks and alt fires. I like that. It makes me feel like I’m always making progress which is nice. This game is sweet.

Beat the underwater level on the same run where I beat the old forest and snow level. There is still more to the game as I still don’t know what’s going on with the story but I feel like I am flying through it. I’m at 10 hours game time and credits rolled after this successful run.

One minor complaint is I wish there was a stat somewhere that showed how many successful runs you’ve done. Maybe I can check how many times I killed the final bosses. But it would be nice if it was just there.

Just got the last fragment and visited the house again. Still cool vibes and I still don’t really know what’s going on. My current theory is that Selina is the kid and the mom dies in the car crash and the kid is pulled free and has trauma from it. I’m almost certain there isn’t any real sci fi story. It’s definitely in her head I just don’t know the specifics.

22 hours game time. Got the final secret ending and I’m super disappointed. There’s no real explanation. It doesn’t give nearly enough answers. I need to google now what the fuck actually happened.

Even the internet has no clue what’s going on. Maybe things are literal and maybe things are metaphors. Nobody fucking knows because neither one adds up. The internet just throws out all the typically potential answers: it’s all in her head because of trauma from the car accident, she’s dead and in a sort of purgatory, or it’s somehow literal and there is a time paradox where she is creating this loop on herself (which also makes no sense). I’m really bummed with the story finale. I had a great time playing returnal and the build up was great but what a sour taste to end on.

Final Score: A-
Returnal is a special kind of game, one which doesn't come around often. It plays great, sound great, and looks great. How did they do it? It's like when you have that run where everything starts to click and things that were difficult before become easy, and you finally beat the third boss. You know from that point on: you are better now.

Housemarque has finished act one.
«Just one more turn»
This game is amazing, almost perfect! Yes, it's hard but if you have some experience in roguelikes/soulikes, you'll be able to even kill some bosses at first try. HOWEVER, the platinum killed it for me... You need to find almost all collectibles in a randomly generated map, where it can NOT appear. I spent 60 runs (almost an entire day) doing the same run over and over again just to find one Scout Log, didn't find it and what kept me going was the gameplay, but I gave up. Still, amazing game.
«Blew my mind»
«Just one more turn»
This is the PS5 game I’ve been waiting for. The first true exclusive and it has NOT disappointed. I agree entirely with the critiques about the lack of a save system, but aside from that very-patchable gripe, this game is immaculate. Each run feels like a gamble, but one that is nearly always winnable. I’m stuck on Biome Three right now as my first hard wall, but even after playing that boss a dozen times, I’m never beaten down to the point where it feels unfair. It’s always something I’ve done and instantly realize I’m an idiot instantly. It’s also a fucking fantastic use of a triple A budget, too. I’ve been excited for this game on principle, due to the fact that it is a culmination of a bunch of genres that have either moved towards obscurity or are typically indie (or both) and I want more of THAT exactly thing in triple A games, but even aside from that excitement, I’m beyond pleased that it is actually an incredible game. I’m usually more of a story guy when it comes to shooters, but Returnal dishes out just enough story to make you feel like you’re understanding the world more, even if you’re failing repeatedly. 

Overall, if you’ve got a PS5, for the love of god, pick this god damn game up. It’s difficult, but if you can handle a game that roughs you up just enough (not quite Soulsborne level, but just enough), then I highly recommend it.
«Blew my mind»
«Just one more turn»