After Demon’s Souls at the launch of the PS5, Sony will be offering its players a new PlayStation Studios exclusivity at the end of April: Returnal. A game simmered by Housemarque (already at the helm on Super Stardust, Resogun, Materfall or even Dead Nation) which describes itself as a rogue-lite-oriented 3D shooter. A game that has been running in the Lemon Squeezer PS5 for a few long days already, and of which it is high time to give you our opinion.

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Returnal, the test on PS5!

Returnal places the player in the shoes of Selene, a space traveler, whose ship will inadvertently crash into the planet Atropos. A planet full of mysteries, which we will obviously have to visit from top to bottom to learn more about the local fauna, about this strange civilization, but also about our heroine’s past. For that, it will be necessary to come to the end of a time loop, which seems to constantly bring Selene back to the crash zone, after each death …

You will understand, Returnal is not a game with a “classic” progression, but a representative of the genre. rogue-lite. Understand a game in which you will have to accept to die frequently, and to start the adventure from scratch, sometimes with a small additional element, gleaned during the previous run. Obviously, with each new run, the environment is modified, and the objects to be recovered on the battlefield are also repositioned.

Like a Hades or a Dead Cells, each new run thus offers a whole new experience generated randomly, but also (and above all!) Generally allows to go a little further, to discover a little. more on the story, to get your hands on a new object … To better start the next run.

In Returnal, Selene’s small staple gun will quickly give way to more powerful weapons, all of which come with secondary fire, and unlockable abilities. In this regard, Housemarque’s game makes perfect use of the DualSense controller, in terms of vibrations, but also triggers, with for example two levels of pressure on the L2 button to trigger the aim of the primary weapon or the secondary weapon. . Excellent.

It’s beautiful ? Is it new?

On the gameplay side, we are here facing a particularly nervous 3D shooter (with a solid 60 fps and 4K resolution), which gives pride of place to action, particles and risk taking. Indeed, the enemies are often very numerous, and some assail you in a dumpling way. shoot’em up signed Cave, and it will then be necessary to master Selene’s dodge to pass between enemy projectiles. Taking down multiple enemies without getting hit raises an adrenaline gauge, which unlocks certain abilities. Ditto in terms of weapons, with an XP type gauge which increases with each enemy slain, and which improves the effectiveness of the weapon used.

In other words, it is not advisable to rush into Returnal, but rather to take your time, to visit the secondary areas (indicated on the map), to refuel with energy, XP or even extraterrestrial parasites, which can boost certain abilities. Each biome is made up of many rooms to visit, and obviously ends with a good old family boss, in several phases, with a fairly Dark Soulesque difficulty.

Because yes, you should know that Returnal is a difficult game … damn difficult even, since a lot of players may never see the boss of level 3, or even of level 2 … Nothing insurmountable of course, but it is a fact, it will accept death in Returnal, and learn to tame this gameplay both nervous, which makes you want to go into the heap, but which can turn out very (very) quickly punitive. Added to this is a game which (almost) never takes the player by the hand, and which lets him discover all the elements of the game by himself, even if it means losing it sometimes a little on the way.

Don’t panic though, if Returnal will (very) often require you to start over at your initial crash point, you won’t be forced to go through all of the first levels again. Indeed, a shortcut system makes it possible to speed things up, even if, as explained above, without taking a minimum of time to “ stuffer ”It will be very difficult to survive in the higher levels. For example, it will be possible to go from the first to the third zone quite easily by following the indicated path to the teleportation portal … on condition that you have first slain the bosses of the first two levels of course.

No, it’s a real PS5 game!

Visually, as we mentioned above, Returnal is a true marvel for the retinas. In addition to a 4K display at 60 fps, the game is full of details, with environments full of life, and quite phenomenal particle handling. It must be said that Housemarque is an expert in the field. Added to this are lighting effects of stunning beauty, very detailed textures, but also superb management of 3D audio spatialization. Note that the game is also devoid of the slightest load, the prerogative of next-gen consoles for a few months.

Ditto on the gameplay side, with ultra-detailed clashes, which leave no room to chance. Indeed, over the course of the game, the fights (even the most innocuous) take on the air of choreography, and a dodge a little too late or a bad management of his melee attack can quickly have dramatic consequences. Despite some very busy streaks, the game engine never showed the slightest sign of weakness on our side.

Overall, Returnal is a game that distills a pretty phenomenal atmosphere, with a little Metroid Prime side for the labyrinth side and the possibility of revisiting areas and Dead Space for its “alien shooter” side. Despite everything, the game signed Housemarque manages to impose its own identity, and notwithstanding a very high difficulty and a random aspect that can frustrate, we start to relaunch the game again and again, to finally manage to get rid of this damn boss!

So yes, but …

Be careful, however, despite its many qualities, this new Returnal is clearly not the kind of title that will please everyone. We must first of all hang on to this atmosphere of ” 3d space shooter », But also accept to die very often, and to start the game again and again …

Of course, the world changes in a procedural way, and each run is meant to be different, but the principle, and the general requirement of the game, which is very high, risks causing the DualSense to drop (or even throw) prematurely in many players … give it a try, which offers everything you might expect from a game ” next-gen », With a very attractive rogue-lite recipe, but in essence quite repetitive, and which will therefore certainly make a lot of happy people, but also some disappointments.

On the side of (small) disappointments, we will also mention an arsenal certainly provided, but with many rather useless weapons ultimately. Added to this is an action that sometimes lacks readability, but also a total lack of saving … Indeed, do not hope to start a run, then save in the middle of it to resume the game later. For this, it is imperative to leave the PS5 in standby mode. A power cut, a change of game, an impromptu update of the console with a restart in the wake … and you will then lose the entire progress of your current run. Infuriating …

Our opinion on Returnal

It is undeniable, Housemarque delivers an impressive Returnal of mastery. A game that takes advantage of a nicely crafted universe, a realization to fall backwards, and which offers excellent hours of play in the company of Selene and the hostile creatures of the planet Atropos. However, the “rogue lite” side (and therefore both repetitive and random), as well as the general difficulty of the title, may surprise and disappoint more than one curious. But as long as you stick to the formula, and accept death as a second chance and not as a punishment, then you risk having a great time with Selene, and finally taking some ” eyeful »As you had hoped since November 19 when you bought your PS5. And of course, like any good ” rogue lite », When it’s over… it’s not over. To sum up, Returnal is a bit like Metroid Prime, which meets Dead Space and Dark Souls seated with Hades and Dead Cells. And it is sadistically good!

Returnal

The Returnal test

WE love

  • Finally a real PS5 game!
  • Nervous and precise gameplay
  • The room for improvement
  • Audio spatialization! Wow!
  • This desire to start over and over again …

We like less

  • A very (too?) Strong difficulty
  • Repetitive, of course …
  • No backup ?!
  • Some weapons of little interest
  • Will frustrate more than one player