Like the first contact with an alien planet, the impact with Returnal was abrupt, surprising, full of mystery but at the same time fascinating. We too found ourselves, like the protagonist, stuck in this infinite cycle from which not even death can get us out, with the only difference that we can't wait to get back to Atropos (the planet Selene crashed on) to continue playing.
In the next few lines we will give you our first impressions of the first hours of Returnal waiting for the review coming soon.
The beginning of the game is simple, an astronaut with his ship accidentally falls on an alien planet to be explored to find a way to escape, but the planet in question hides more than a few secrets. Already in the first ten minutes Selene's anxiety, and consequently ours, skyrockets due to events that we prefer not to tell you so as not to spoil the surprise.
Forced into an endless cycle of death, horror and mystery, we will be led to keep trying to reach our goal even going against death itself.
Death is one of the key elements of Returnal: in fact, with each departure the various rooms and the map in general will change, forcing us to explore each scenario as if it were the first time. The thing that surprised us most about this mechanic, which might seem repetitive, is that up to now it has never bored us, surprising us every time. Each cycle is completely new between objects to discover, creatures to defeat and portions of the map to explore, and our curiosity will be essential to continue surprising us every few minutes.
The shootings are obviously the key to all the gameplay, and certainly one cannot fail to admit that these are damn fun and return incredible feedback. We have the possibility of wielding different types of alien weapons, comparable in any case to the classic counterpart of pistols, rifles and machine guns, but which will make us feel the power in our hands.
These sensations come not only from a shooting system that borders on perfection, but also from the Dualsense that is being exploited like never before (we are at the levels of Astro's Playroom). In addition to hearing the rain, Selene's footsteps, the shots taken and the electric discharges that sometimes hit Atropos, there are the adaptive triggers that do a great job although perhaps some mechanics could be studied better: every weapon has a primary fire. , which will activate the tension of the triggers giving us a fantastic feeling, and a secondary one that will be activated by pressing the left trigger all the way, overcoming the block created by the tension. We understand that these sensations and mechanics are difficult to understand for anyone who has never tried the PlayStation 5 controller, and also difficult to explain without letting you try it.
The shootings are made even more frenetic by an ultra-responsive movement system, simple to use and incredibly fun: jump, sprint, dodge and who knows what other power-ups you can unlock, make the clashes very lively. To play Returnal you need a good concentration because it takes very little and we will be back on that damned spaceship, ready to crash for the umpteenth time.
During our explorations we have found ourselves several times having to decide whether to face secondary rooms in order to obtain rewards, or choose whether to collect items that give bonuses with a probability of malus. The risk / reward component is therefore very strong in Returnal and will often put us in difficulty, also leading to rather complex reasoning on what to do. The upgrades that we can find (already in these first hours) are many: upgrades for weapons, for armor, parasites that will give us a bonus and a malus at the same time, chests to open in exchange for malus ... and many other things we prefer make you discover by playing. Obviously, all enhancements and penalties will be canceled after each of our deaths, with exceptions for some permanent items. All this increases even more the desire and the usefulness of exploring Atropos even putting our lives at risk.
It will be almost impossible to refuse to explore some areas given the incredible care with which the scenarios are created (we still speak only of the first hours of the game). Giant statues, xenomorphic corpses, endless pits and unknown alien mechanisms make the planet fascinating and scary at the same time. In addition, the technical sector is of the highest level, with a cinematographic direction that makes everything even more engaging. If this variety and this care are maintained for the duration of the game it will be difficult to get bored.
What can we say then? We can be extremely satisfied with these first few hours of Returnal, and we truly hope that the quality will be maintained throughout its duration. We repeat once again, if it were not clear enough, that these are preliminary and not definitive impressions of the title of Housemarque and for this see you next week for the full review.
► Returnal is a Shooter type game developed by Housemarque and published by Sony Interactive Entertainment for PlayStation 5, the video game was released on 30/04/2021