Returnal is a highly anticipated-PS5 exclusive title from Housemarque. It recently went gold, which all but guarantees that the game is going to release as scheduled on April 30. However, while the development team has done a great job showcasing what kind of gameplay to expect from Returnal, they haven't really talked much about the game's story.
That said, the developers recently took the time to talk more about the game's narrative and to explain exactly what the story is all about.
What is the Story of Returnal?
Housemarque is a video game development studio that specializes in rogue-like titles. The Finland-based development studio previously made a name for themselves with titles like Resogun and Nex Machina. Both of these indie games combined rogue-like gameplay with arcade elements. However, with Returnal, Housemarque decided to take a different approach. Instead of a more arcade-like experience, Housemarque wanted to focus more on the narrative without losing their signature gameplay style.
In a recent HouseCast episode, the game's Narrative Director, Gregory Louden, talked about how the game will serve as Housemarque's first game where the story plays such a central role. He explained that the team is working hard to make the game's story mesh well with the game's third-person shooter and rougelike elements.
As per Louden, the story of Returnal revolves around Seline, a deep space scout who lets her curiosity get the best of her. Despite the warnings, she decides to pay the game's forbidden planet a visit after receiving a mysterious message. However, as she soon finds out, things on Atropos are not as they seem.
As Seline explores Atropos, she learns more about what happened and why she's there from audio logs found on her own corpse that's scattered all over. The more players delve deeper into the constantly shifting landscape, the more they'll discover about what kind of role Seline plays in the story. The game will also reportedly tell the tale of the former inhabitants of the now-barren planet.
Judging from the video alone, it's clear that Housemarque wants to make the most out of their chance to develop the PS5-exclusive title. We already know just how well they can work with roguelike games. However, what's interesting here is that Returnal is one of the few games to really integrate the cyclical nature of such games with the game's narrative.
TLDR; Returnal incentivizes death.
With such a unique and foreign concept for a debut AAA title though, it certainly feels like Housemarque is also taking a huge gamble with Returnal. One can't help but wonder if they could benefit from releasing a video game demo.
Returnal is set to release on the PlayStation 5 on April 30, 2021.