From beginning to end, Housemarque’s unique roguelike Returnal is a solitary experience, with players controlling Selene as she attempts to find the White Shadow Signal and escape the time loop. That said, there are moments where one other humanoid figure appears to give Returnal players a fright, with the Astronaut consistently stalking Selene.
The Astronaut is a key figure in Selene’s story, with players consistently encountering the entity in the optional House sequences. These first-person sections see the figure popping up, usually toward the end, with gamers discovering small details about Selene’s past before these harrowing interactions. However, it seems like the Astronaut does not only appear in the House, as Twitter user afillari pointed out at least one other potential location for Selene’s stalker.
The player points out that one of their favorite details inside Returnal is how the Astronaut can be spotted watching Selene from a distance. Attaching a screenshot for proof, the spaceman can be seen resting on top of a far-off building. Having a perfect angle on Selene, the moment is certainly creepy, as the figure being out in the world of Atropos is completely unexpected. As shown in the screenshot, this particular instance of the Astronaut appearing was captured in the Crimson Wastes biome, however posts from other gamers show it appears to spawn in other areas as well.
Reddit user xXR3APER21Xx showcased the spaceman lurking in the Overgrown Ruins. Upon walking into an open area, the Redditor immediately notices the white figure resting under a statue. The player wastes no time shooting the Astronaut, but their bullets have no effect on the enemy. They then go to swap out their weapon with a stronger piece of gear, likely preparing for an upcoming clash with Phrike. However, when they look back at the pillar, the Astronaut is nowhere to be seen.
As pointed out by Redditor Chaos915 on a separate post about this detail, the spaceman can also be found inside Selene’s ship. If players sit down in the pilot’s seat to give the protagonist a breather, they will see a reflection of the Astronaut staring back at them. While the special Astronaut figurine is one of the most coveted items in the game, as it guarantees a second chance after all health is depleted, those playing the game seem to be a bit nervous about encountering the real Astronaut.
Based on these discoveries, it is clear that players will not be able to escape the spaceman’s presence whether they are outside or inside of Returnal’s House. For anyone that is interested in seeing the detail themselves, looking at the ledges of each biome seems like the best strategy.
GR: Time-bending aside, what design components or mechanics do you think are crucial when crafting a strong shooter?JA: I’m a game programmer by trade, so I believe controls are probably the most important thing. You want to play the game, not the controller. Having things perform the way you expect them to perform. As an example, one of our goals was to have the operatives’ abilities and weapons feel smooth, so it’s just fun to move around the map. If you add a gameplay layer on top of that, it only heightens the experience.
GR: The time-altering mechanic can be fairly disorienting when you first encounter it. What is the best way to learn the ropes? Are any operatives more beginner-friendly than others?
JA: The most important thing is to get in there and start experimenting. Kapitan has the most standard loadout; assault rifle and frag grenade ability. But you really have to learn to play all the characters. There is a huge discovery curve. Even if you are still learning the ropes though, you have the opportunity to turn things around, or at least damage your opponent’s plans.
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