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PS5: Returnal Preview and First Impressions – We Have High Hopes For It

PS5: Returnal Preview and First Impressions – We Have High Hopes For It

by Aiman MaulanaApril 22, 2021
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We managed to get our hands on an early copy of one of the most highly anticipated exclusives for the PlayStation 5, Returnal. Before we share our in-depth review of the game, I’m going to give you a taste of it with my first impressions and preview of the game.

What is Returnal About?

PS5: Returnal Preview and First Impressions

Developed by Housemarque, Returnal is a 3rd person psychological horror game with a futuristic sci-fi setting. Players take on the role of Selene, a space pilot geared up with high-tech equipment and weaponry. She crash landed in an alien planet known as Atropos and finds herself all alone in this barren land.

With no choice in the matter, Selene has to venture through the remnants of an ancient civilization and fight against hordes of aliens in order to find a way to escape. It’s not an easy task as she gets killed in the process time after time again but for some odd reason, she wakes up again in her ship with a strong sense of déjà vu.

PS5: Returnal Preview and First Impressions

She is stuck in an endless timeloop but interestingly, the environment also changes with every cycle. The items and the enemies she come across are also different, giving players a fresh new experience every time while also forcing them push their boundaries with new strategies as they approach the game once more. Can she find a way to escape this nightmare?

Returnal First Impressions

When I first heard that Returnal counted as a horror game, I was expecting something like Dead Space but at least from my initial playthrough, that doesn’t appear to be the case. As soon as you leave your ship, it’s essentially action-based combat in 3rd person view, with the storyline being played out having a rather eerie tone given the mysterious circumstances.

You can jump, dash, air-dash, shoot, and run around as you wish. The movement mechanic reminds me a little bit of the Mega Man X series as you run and gun the enemies, just that Returnal feels like it has more emphasis on dashing given that it’s needed to dodge enemy attacks. One important mechanic here is the Adrenaline gauge, which fills up when you kill enemies and yields benefits as it goes up, but depletes as soon as you take damage. It’s a mechanic that essentially rewards a skilled player.

PS5: Returnal Preview and First Impressions

In your first “playthrough”, you’re only going to be facing basic enemies so you can get a hang of how the game works. It will also teach you how to play as you go along. As you find yourself through an inevitable death and start a new one, that’s when the game truly starts as you realize that the initial gate you went through after leaving the ship appears to be a completely new area. It’s worth noting that every time you get revived, you’re not starting fresh necessarily as some equipment and upgrades will be with you regardless, so there is permanent progression.

With every run you go for, you will find items that you can scan and add to your databank. It’s worth checking out of all that and also listening to audio clips that you find along the way as you can piece together the game’s storyline and get a better understanding of what’s going on in Returnal. It’s too early for me to say whether these details are very important to the game or if it simply enriches the storytelling experience but I would personally pay attention to avoid confusion later on. Speaking of confusion, there is a dedicated tutorials section in case you’re not sure about certain elements in the game.

PS5: Returnal Preview and First Impressions

Visually, Returnal looks amazing on its own but coupled together the dark environment filled with ancient buildings and foliage, it gives you a sense of helplessness that will surely take the immersion factor to the next level. It’s definitely one that is worthy of a next gen game as it takes advantage of the PlayStation 5’s stronger hardware. I can see why the game isn’t making its way to the older PS4 console after playing it.

What makes this game feel special right now is how it takes advantage of the DualSense controller. The subtle vibrations when accessing the menu, the feedback when you shoot at enemies, the locking sensation as you engage the L2 trigger to go into ADS, and the vibrations you get as certain events occur in the game. All of this makes you feel more immersed in the game and since I’ve only gotten a small taste of it, there’s definitely more I’ve yet to discover.

Initial Conclusion

PS5: Returnal Preview and First Impressions

Based on the short time I’ve played Returnal thus far, it’s pretty fun and it has a rather refreshing concept with its roguelike elements. I’m very certain there’s a lot in the game that I’ve yet to discover, especially the story, and I hope it’s one that will blow me away by the end of it. It’s going to be tough to pair a good storyline with the random nature of the game but at the moment, I have high hopes for it.

Stay tuned for our in-depth review of Returnal.

If you’re looking for more games to play on the PS5, check out the PS Plus free games lineup for April 2021 by clicking right here.

About The Author
Aiman Maulana
Jack of all trades, master of none, but oftentimes better than a master of one. YouTuber, video editor, tech head, and a wizard of gaming. What's up? :)