Thu. May 19th, 2022

Time loops are not exactly a new concept. In fact, they have become quite trendy in 2021 with games like Deathloop and Twelve minutes utilize time loops as the main perception. Reliving events over and over again does not always have to be scary, but when you are trapped on an alien planet that is permeated by overpowering monsters that try to destroy you, it falls into full horror. That’s what one of PlayStation 5’s very best – and scary – exclusive games has to offer.

We are talking about, of course Return, the ingenious third-person action roguelike developed by Housemarque that leverages the PS5’s unique hardware and software to deliver a gripping and immersive experience. It can just give you nightmares (in a good way). For anyone who wants to experience a bit of absolute terror and cerebral Lovecraftian horror, look no further.

IN Return, you play as Selene Vassos, a space explorer with ASTRA Corporation, who investigates a mysterious signal on Atropo’s off-limits planet. After a storm damages her ship, resulting in an emergency, she lands, wakes up on the planet’s surface and begins to explore a dangerous forest where hostile alien lives are inevitably formed and brutally destroy her. Aside from each time, she loops back in time to the crash and must explore the planet once more. The mystery deepens as Selene encounters her own dead body. Some of them even mutate and revive.

Even the weakest enemies can take you out in one or two hits, so the anxious feeling of vulnerability and fear is on par with people like Dark souls or Bloodborne. You’re a weak human being in a dangerous place, and every single death is sudden and brutal enough that I found myself screaming in literal fear.

The planet also changes in each loop, adding a sense of mystery and intrigue. Over time, you will recognize some patterns, but everything from environments to enemies and objects you discover are randomly generated procedurally. This is a staple in the roguelike genre, but unlike games like Hades where you want to construct a synergistic building using the boons you discover along the way, Return is a little more chaotic and left to chance.

Return is permeated by body dismay.Sony

Some upgrades are permanent, as Selene harvests alien technology from the long-dead dead corpses in a living civilization, like a grab hook or Atropian Blade melee weapon. But most things you pick up disappear at your death. There are optional parasites that adhere to Selene’s body and offer a kind of benefit at the expense of a negative effect. Your suit can repair itself when severely damaged, but the output of your mutton damage can take a 50 percent reduction.

However, the most important feature to monitor is your Suit Integrity, which acts as your HP or health line. Collecting various types of resin can cure or increase overall health. But Return offers a wealth of other consumables, artifacts that upgrade your suit, and a variety of guns and devices that affect each race.

The sci-fi weapons and the overall battle are reminiscent of other third-person action titles like Mass effect, and Return do interesting things with the DualSense controller’s adaptive triggers. It also contains elements from bullet hell games, which means that each enemy type fires an overwhelming number of energy projectiles that you must dodge.

This is a modest amount of enemy fire.Sony

Return is stressful and difficult, but when you adapt to the nightmarish game, you can sink into the cerebral and haunting story. It has a total of six biomes, including the starting forest. Selene must explore more and more of the planet to locate the source of the signal, but along the way, she is literally haunted by a figure in a retro spacesuit. Even more confusing, a recreation of her home on Earth appears somewhat random in the woods, allowing her to explore memories as a way to further understand her past, present, and future.

Atmosphere is key here, and the PS5’s 3D sound sounds noticeably different from most other games out there. The way it enhances the story and gameplay elements really makes it feel like a next generation game.

We will not destroy some of Return‘s biggest and best surprises, but after one of the most epic and exciting boss encounters I’ve ever played, the story delivers an impressive twist that you’ll never see coming. It makes you question Selena’s sense – and maybe even your own. How was Selene really caught in this time loop? What cosmic forces are at play here? The answers to these questions are hard to understand for a game that dives so deep into cosmic horror and draws clear inspiration from the Alien series and Lovecraft … especially with all the tentacles you encounter along the way.

Return is now available exclusively on PlayStation 5.

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