Returnal Is A Very Shiny Roguelike

I’ve written about Returnal already, but I can’t get it out of my head, and given that it was in the most recent State of Play, and also it’s very pretty, I figured I’d write about it again. Returnal is a game about you having crash-landed on a bizarre and barren planet, one that continues to change its shape constantly. It’s exhausting by the looks of things, and you’re going to die a lot. In that sense, it’s very much a typical roguelike.

One of the things that makes Returnal so different to most roguelikes is just the sheer level of shine it has on it. While many roguelikes can look good, they tend to use stylised art styles or pixel art to allow the gameplay to bubble up to the top. It means that you get these games with absolutely stunning mechanics, but they don’t always look as good as they play. Returnal looks to be the first in a weird variant of the genre that might actually manage almost AAA graphics while still maintaining the core of the genre (which is suffering).

The thing that I’m most curious about is whether or not it manages to tell a story in an engaging way. I’ve no doubts that the gameplay will be good thanks to Housemarque’s previous games, but story isn’t something I’d associate them with. Given that Hades was one of the first roguelikes with a truly coherent story, it’ll be interesting to see if a roguelike from another developer can match it.