All of those cracked helmets behind our hero look identical. There’s a reason. Returnal sees its players die and retry as an explorer of a strange alien planet. [credit:
Sony Interactive Entertainment / Housemarque ]
Ahead of next week’s launch of the PlayStation 5 exclusive Returnal, Sony has given me an opportunity to show exactly how the game looks and plays via stream before I start writing a review.
For some video games, this kind of “Twitch it early” opportunity is a no-brainer, like when I got to test Diablo II: Resurrected ahead of its closed beta earlier this month. Returnal is a trickier one, since it’s for a console that a lot of readers say they’ve struggled to buy. And it’s a brand-new IP, so you may look at the headline and ask what the heck a Returnawhatzit is.
But after playing a few hours of the game already, I’m compelled to connect my PS5 to my streaming rig and show you what Returnal is all about. This is partially because I’ve watched the game’s official, weirdly edited video previews since its announcement last year and not understood what is going on in this procedurally generated sci-fi shooter. Seeing the game in action helps a lot. Its earliest moments feel like a refined Housemarque classic—this studio has previously impressed with games like Resogun and Nex Machina—but Returnal is supercharged with the exploration, production values, and dark mystery of Metroid Prime. Some good chocolate-and-peanut-butter right there.