The upcoming third-person shooter Returnal is going to be the newest addition to the PlayStation 5 catalogue. Its developer Housemarque is looking to combine its signature gameplay with a stronger narrative, and while details have been slim, a recent episode of HouseCast gives a deeper look into the story of Returnal.
Many players will be familiar with Housemarque for games like the positively reviewed Resogun or Nex Machina. These past titles typically involve an arcade-like experience with gripping action, but not a lot of emphasis on narrative. With these arcade-y days supposedly over, the developer is looking to take a new direction for Returnal.
The Returnal Narrative Director Gregory Louden talks about Housemarque's relationship with storytelling. He describes how this game is the first big title the developer has made where story is a big element, and because of this, the team is working to make sure the narrative never compromises the gameplay Housemarque is known for. The main character is well aware of the cycle, or roguelike characteristics, that make up the game, so the narrative developers can work with concepts like how Seline reacts to this world, or how she evolves because of it.
According to Louden, Seline is a driven but somewhat stubborn deep-space scout. After receiving a message that draws her to the planet, Seline decides to pursue it despite it being marked as forbidden. As she travels around the biomes of Returnal's Atropos, she stumbles upon her own corpse, which has an audio log. These bodies can be from the past or future, providing bits of the story without pausing the gameplay. She can also uncover the history of a lost alien civilization, showing that the game is packing a multifaceted narrative for players to unveil.
From the HouseCast video, it seems like the team is working hard on developing a worthwhile story. Some of the best roguelike games expertly combine the cyclical gameplay with the story. In this genre dying is key to progressing further in the experience, and audio logs are a subtle way of feeding into this.
That said, as Housemarque's first foray into deep storytelling, Returnal will have some hurdles to cross. This comes at a time when titles on PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X are seeing price increases. Players will have to trust that the team is creating a narrative that can live up to the complex gameplay, and thanks to the details provided in the video, fans should be more confident that the team may be able to pull it off.
Housemarque's PS5 exclusive Returnal is one of the most anticipated games of this year. Ever since being announced during Sony's PlayStation 5 reveal event back in June of 2020, the game has become the subject of many expectations and speculation, mostly due to the game being one of the console's earliest exclusive titles.
Developer Housemarque is known for its work on PS4 twin-stick shooter Resogun, and fans believe that Returnal could have a lot of potential to show for itself. Many details about Returnal are available already, and fans can now do a quick rundown of all the available trailers at once.
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