Before moving on to the Returnal review details, we need to underline that the game is the first game developed for PS5. In other words, we have a game developed by considering the console's architecture and features. Demon's Souls was released exclusively during the console's release period, but considering that this game is a Remake, we can at least position Returnal in a more special place in this regard. Because I will give details in a moment, but you feel this situation in every moment of the game, albeit with small details, and this is just a few of the points that make Returnal successful.
Returnal is an action game that combines roguelike and metroidvania genres, using horror elements as a spice. Combining so many different genres, it has managed to keep the aspects that all of them are successful, despite some shortcomings.
In the game, we manage a character named Selene who fell on a planet called Atropos. While Selene embarks on a great journey towards the unknown on this planet, she also enters into a personal showdown. As we progress through the game, we find our own sound recordings, even by seeing our own house, we discover that we are in a great unknown and loop, and we find ourselves in places that seem like something out of Alien movies.
The general operation of the game is based on a time cycle, which is also very well integrated into the story details. When you die, you start the game from the starting point and repeat this cycle many times. This cycle tries to keep you alive with the map structure, different weapons and enemy types, as well as story pieces that change every time. "How can we enjoy dying and returning over and over?" I can hear you say. At this point, the fact that it has a dynamism that changes every time together with the randomly created map structure has also been an element that increases the binding of the game.
So if you've played successful games like Dead Cells or Hades before, I think you better understand what we mean. Or, if you are familiar with the storytelling of the Children of Morta game, it is possible to say that it has a similar structure. Because as you die many times and spend hours, you learn the details of the story, and despite all these deaths, this binding of the game is the most important element that pushes you to play again.
Some permanent items have been included in the game to balance this situation a little bit. You get a hook that you can hold on to some points in the area, a sword (like a lightsaber) that you can break through enemies or areas with barriers, or some features that you can navigate underwater permanently. These features are generally based on the fact that you move around the game area faster. Since there is no permanent item in health bar or damage issues, as I said, no matter how fast you go, if you can't find key items, especially in terms of damage and health, you have to repeat the cycle many times.
When I first played, I reached the 3rd region directly. Then I had to repeat the cycle 10-15 times when I wanted to act fast. But again, carefully and slowly, as I progressed slowly, I reached the fourth region in the game. In other words, the game has a structure that requires patience and rewards you at the end of this patience, just like in similar productions.
Of course, don't mind what I said to be patient, although you need to be patient in the progress, the opposite is true in the dynamics of the gameplay. Because Returnal is a production that you need to be constantly on the move and adjusts the conflict dynamics accordingly. There are only a few spots on the screen where you can avoid enemy shots in boss fights. Or sometimes there are so many enemies on the playground that you measure your height in a moment's pause. moreover, you can encounter enemies that will knock you down with one hit, as well as crunchy cookies. I can say that the random process of this whole structure, like the section designs, keeps you on your toes.
Let's talk about the DualSense features in the game along with the secondary shot of the weapon. The production team used DualSense features in a small but effective way. This is such a nice addition to the game that I can't even imagine playing Returnal with another controller right now. When you press the left trigger halfway, you switch to the targeting system. When you press it fully, the secondary fire mode of the weapon is activated. This is how the Adaptive Trigger feature in the game works.
Of course, apart from this feature, the Haptic Feedback feature is also used very sweetly. Every move of your character returns to you as vibration. or when you enter a portal, you feel DualSense vibrating accordingly. There are also different vibrations depending on the weapons and shooting styles. My favorite thing about it was the rain effect. Because in the rainy areas of the game, you feel that the raindrops return as vibrations one by one. As I said, this is a small situation that makes a great contribution to the integrity of the game.
Returnal has a unique texture visually. Of course, as I mentioned at the beginning, he enriched this texture with familiar atmospheric phenomena. As you progress in the game, you encounter regions similar to those in the Alien (Prometheus) movies, and you find yourself examining the remains of the ancient civilization here. The fact that each region has a different theme contributed greatly to this visuality of the game. You enter foggy areas while raindrops hit your helmet in forest areas, or you look carefully at the sandstorms that welcome you as you move away from the map in the desert. The game may not be visually stunning, but it has a rich structure with the light plays and elements that complete the atmosphere.
As a result, Returnal is a game that blends different dynamics very well, as I mentioned at the beginning. It's fun to play and the fast action structure doesn't bore you easily. Even when you die in a ridiculous way and close the game in anger, you want to play again after a certain time. It also has a structure that connects the player in this regard. My biggest criticism of the game lies in its price. I wish the players' perspective on Returnal could have been much different if the AAA game price had been kept one click lower. I can say that it is a fun action game that you should experience if you have the opportunity to buy it even in this form or by waiting for the discount period.