Metascore
86

Generally favorable reviews - based on 103 Critic Reviews

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 98 out of 103
  2. Negative: 0 out of 103
Buy On
  1. May 12, 2021
    100
    To enjoy Returnal you have to abandon the idea of accomplishment, and stop looking for the breadcrumb trail of pleasing achievements that typically pulls you through a game. Forget about making progress. Forget about seeing the end. Once you do that, you can lose yourself in the near-infinite pleasure of the movement and combat, and the near-infinite mystery and creeping horror of Atropos. Every try is different, and yet also the same. But, with the right mindset, you can find meaning and pleasure in that instead of despair.
  2. Apr 30, 2021
    100
    Housemarque’s Returnal is a brutal rogue-lite that constantly keeps the fun coming through its well-thought-through item system that is exquisitely balanced and its randomized gameplay design that feels fresh after every death. Definitely a must-have game for the PlayStation 5.
  3. Apr 29, 2021
    100
    In a genre where déjà vu is more of a feature than a bug, it makes sense that Returnal doesn’t feel any pressure to disguise its genealogy. And yet, Housemarque’s masterpiece — without question the best and most promising game of the brand-new console generation for the time being — takes things a step further by weaponizing that eerie sense of recognition against the player and protagonist alike.
  4. 100
    Returnal is an essential PS5 title, now and throughout the console’s life. Housemarque took the rogue-like bullet-hell formula and applied it to a AAA experience in a way that creates something exceptionally unique yet wholly familiar. Returnal is an engaging experience in narrative, gameplay, and player discovery, consistently surprising on every level. Utilizing the PS5 technology in a way that most other developers are barely tapping into, Returnal feels like one of the first truly next-gen experiences, letting Housemarque set the stage for the new console. And like Housemarque games before it, it’s the kind of game that will withstand the test of time, begging for additional cycles well into the future.
  5. Apr 29, 2021
    100
    Returnal is an excellent video game flirting with perfection. It has the most satisfying gameplay loop Housemarque has crafted to date, which says a lot considering the studio's pedigree. If PlayStation's other PS5 exclusives feel even half as satisfying as Returnal does, fans are in for one hell of a console generation.
  6. Apr 29, 2021
    100
    I have thoroughly enjoyed playing Returnal so far and its unique die-and-start-over mechanic, excellent graphics, gameplay and sound all work brilliantly to deliver yet another fantastic first-party exclusive for the PS5.
  7. Apr 29, 2021
    100
    Returnal is a tour de force for Housemarque and Sony, and is one of the best games I've played this year with gorgeous visuals, a surprising story, and great roguelike gameplay.
  8. Apr 29, 2021
    100
    Returnal masterfully makes use of the technical possibilities of the PS5 and succeeds in creating an immersive gaming experience that has rarely been seen before. The end result is a rock-solid game that is not for the faint-hearted, but has raised the bar just that little bit higher for all the games to come.
  9. Apr 29, 2021
    100
    Playing Returnal, it feels like next-gen has truly begun. The way it seamlessly moves from third-person to first-person; how you move from biome to biome without loading screens taking you out of the action; the DualSense implementation; the fluidity of the gameplay; the phenomenal visuals and audio; all of these elements, and more, come together to create an experience that is truly like no other. This is not only Housemarque's best game to date, but perhaps also the best game currently available on PS5. It's a genre-defying delight that raises the bar on so many levels. If you own a PS5 you need to play Returnal. It's as simple as that.
  10. Apr 29, 2021
    100
    Returnal is a must-play and a first perfect true next-gen experience that utilizes all that Sony has marketed for its new console. A sci-fi third-person shooter that uses its roguelite attribute in combination with its time loop story that surprises with its originality and surpasses the expectations by far.
  11. Apr 30, 2021
    96
    The game’s blend of an original Metroid-style progression system with a rogue-lite and a bit of Alien thrown in with the unknown nature of the world makes Returnal a compelling experience at all times. It looks and sounds great and controls like a dream – although it would be nice if gyroscopic aiming was added in later on for a bit more intuitive control.
  12. Apr 29, 2021
    95
    I think that if you were one of those who recently made the enormous expense to buy a PlayStation 5, you must have Returnal among your priorities, because it is precisely software that gives the hardware a sense of existence. It is useless to have all those capabilities without games that make the most of it. Housemarque's work has rekindled hope for what the developers will present to us in the future. The truth is that anxiety invades me because I already know what else has been prepared for us and more than anything else, it adds some flavor to this new generation that, as I already told you, had a strange beginning in large part due to the complicated situation that It surrounded us and continues to surround us to this day. Returnal is a celebration of the modernity and sophistication of the medium.
  13. Apr 29, 2021
    95
    Returnal is unambiguously and thoroughly an outstanding game. Mixing the RPG progression and ever-evolving suite of roguelite hooks with a frenetic third-person shooter results in a new experience with two halves that make each other better. As it did with the PS3, Vita, and PS4, Housemarque has once again provided Sony with another launch-era hit and in doing so has created a rewarding, replayable, and revolutionary game that’s hopefully the foundation for other future AAA titles that are as clever with the roguelite blueprint.
  14. Apr 29, 2021
    95
    Returnal is a relentless nightmare that’s a dream to play. The journey is full of horror and terrible discoveries, but also unbridled curiosity and wonder. If you have the taste for it, this is an adventure that begs to be experienced.
  15. Apr 29, 2021
    95
    Returnal is a challenging, atmospheric and creative experience that boasts amazingly smooth and satisfying gameplay. Add in an intriguing narrative, graphical excellence and some impressive utilisation of the DualSense controller and Returnal might just be an instant PlayStation classic.
  16. Apr 29, 2021
    95
    Returnal's fluid, graceful movement and satisfying, punchy gunplay combine with a sense of exploration at once both wondrous and morbid, and a drip-fed progression system that makes you feel like you're always discovering or unlocking something new.
  17. Apr 29, 2021
    93
    Barring a sci-fi horror tale that doesn't quite nail the slow building reveal, Housemarque has absolutely succeeded with their fusion of third-person shooting and roguelike elements in Returnal, one of my personal favorite PlayStation 5 titles so far.
  18. Apr 29, 2021
    93
    Housemarque delivers an unforgettable experience: Returnal is an intoxicating action game that thrives on its design and aesthetic.
  19. Apr 29, 2021
    92
    Returnal absolutely blew me away with its challenging combat, atmospheric exploration, amazing sound design, and rewarding campaign setup. Housemarque crammed a ton of elements into this experience and everything comes together brilliantly.
  20. Apr 29, 2021
    92
    Returnal is so much more than a rogue-like bullet-hell game. It tells a captivating, mysterious, and oftentimes haunting narrative with gorgeous, unsettling visuals and compelling voice acting. It offers a wide variety of collectibles, health upgrades, and unique features to give you a fresh and varied experience with each cycle, and gives players shortcuts so they can continue to press on with the story rather than have to complete every single biome time and time again.
  21. Apr 29, 2021
    91
    Though a much harder game to pitch than many other exclusive titles that come from PlayStation Studios, Returnal has every right to belong in the same conversation that titles from the likes of Insomniac, Naughty Dog, Sucker Punch, Guerilla, and Santa Monica do. It’s a wonderful point of difference within the PS5 portfolio of titles, but in its own right, it shines too. It might feel like you’re beating your head against a very smart wall, but persist, because as you learn to play by the game’s very specific set of rules, mastery will reward you with one of the finest titles you’re likely to play in 2021.
  22. 90
    Returnal is as bold as it is relentless. Taking the best of Rogue-lite mechanics, third person shooting and foreboding sci-fi atmosphere; Housemarque have delivered an evolution of their excellent pedigree while masterfully demonstrating what the PS5 can do. While the notable difficulty will be a test for some, conquer it and you will be rewarded with a game that is slick, ruthless, and dangerously addictive.
  23. May 10, 2021
    90
    Housemarque has managed to do the impossible by crafting a solid story that fits within the tight confines of a roguelite. Mixing the studio’s signature fast-paced arcade action with an atmospheric environment, Returnal gets its claws into you early on and refuses to let go, instantly putting it up among the first true next-gen experiences of this generation.
  24. May 9, 2021
    90
    Due to it's Rogue-like structure, Returnal is a hard game to get into as it requires a lot of trial and error to get comfortable with. But thanks to its mysterious setting, fun gameplay, fantastic use of DualSense technology and superb audio and visual design, you will be satisfied when you finally tackle all the challenges.
  25. May 7, 2021
    90
    The more you learn about Selene across the game’s gripping campaign, the easier it is to relate to or agree with her observation that “I deserve to be here.”
  26. May 4, 2021
    90
    Housemarque reminds audiences that it’s got the chops to be one of the premier-tier game developers with Returnal. The game is wholly difficult with a roster of powerful enemies and bosses to overcome, but also gives the player everything they need in order to succeed. The game just gets better and better as you go on, as recognizing patterns and learning to adapt is endlessly rewarding. Despite some issues with RNG, it’s hard to knock this creepy sci-fi adventure. Returnal is a must-play PS5 exclusive for any roguelike fan itching for their latest challenge.
  27. Apr 29, 2021
    90
    If you have a PS5 then you need Returnal. The game will absolutely trounce you with everything it’s got, but once the mechanics start to resonate and the overarching narrative gradually falls into place then it becomes near-impossible to put down. Returnal sets a new standard in the roguelike genre.
  28. Apr 29, 2021
    90
    Returnal is the first big surprise of 2021, exploiting the capabilities of the DualSense and 3D audio of the PS5. It's a challenging game with well-implemented mechanics and an intriguing storyline that will keep you hooked.
  29. Apr 29, 2021
    90
    Returnal is an amazing game. Metroidvania, roguelite and bullet hell mixed perfectly, and the result is fluid, rich and incredibly addictive action. The loop becomes the cornerstone of a mysterious, allegorical, at times terrifying narrative, capable of keeping you glued to DualSense from start to finish.
  30. Apr 29, 2021
    90
    Other games may employ similar mechanics in the future, but Returnal should always be remembered as one of the ones that did it first, and, as of now, did it best.
  31. Apr 29, 2021
    90
    Returnal couldn't have wished for a better release date - there are no new AAA titles coming out right now, so Horsemarque's new game takes all the publicity. It's pretty, it's demanding and mysterious, and it makes for tons of fun. Hopefully gamers will appreciate it as much as journalists do. A game of the year candidate?
  32. Apr 29, 2021
    90
    Being used to fast-paced, visually exuberant titles Housemarque brings us one this year’s good surprises. A game that in keeping its studio’s tradition takes a step forward on a very specific genre. Returnal is aesthetically delightful and has a very important narrative basis, but the gameplay is the true protagonist and motivating agent for its fluidity and fast paced constant confrontations against creatures and machines that challenge our understanding, mainly for the certainty that the failures of the past where not in vain, and that next time everything will be different.
  33. Apr 29, 2021
    90
    It's an impossibly slick game that's bound to delight fans of Housemarque's previous work and anyone looking for a substantial new roguelike to sink their teeth into. But for everyone else? The difficulty paired with the sluggish sense of progression may prove to be a major turn off. What I will say is this: If you're even slightly interested in Returnal, consider checking it out. Some games are worth fighting for.
  34. Apr 29, 2021
    90
    Returnal is the first big original PS5 exclusive, a fantastic game and a quite intense adventure. It looks great, plays wonderfully, tells a captivating story and is definitely an amazing AAA Rogue-like that PS5 owners will be delighted to play again and again.
  35. Apr 29, 2021
    90
    It feels immensely satisfying to be sat here in 2021, eons after playing Super Stardust HD on PS3, and see just how far Housemarque has come. Offering a visual bullet hell spectacle, a showcase for the DualSense controller and a rewarding sci-fi narrative woven around the roguelike loop, we can say with unflinching confidence that Returnal is the PS5’s best game to date.
  36. Apr 29, 2021
    90
    Complex systems are made simple, by committing their clutter to muscle memory, and play—good play, at any rate—requires that you, like Selene, ride its enigmatic loop.
  37. Apr 29, 2021
    90
    Returnal is an astounding game, one that easily and instantly claims the proud title of being Housemarque’s best game to date, and is an unmissable killer app very early in the PS5’s life.
  38. Apr 29, 2021
    90
    Housemarque's first triple A game does just about everything right, with an intriguing story and wonderful world that's begging to be explored. Add some truly memorable boss encounters to the mix and you won't be surprised to realize that Returnal may just be the PlayStation 5's first genuine must have.
  39. Apr 29, 2021
    90
    Housemarque has delivered the PS5 promise with Returnal. All the console's bells and whistles enhance the experience, making this a real showpiece for the hardware. But more than that, the game is a force to be reckoned with; the breathless combat, super slick gameplay, and the subtle but unsettling story combine for an experience of surprising scale. Rogue-lite aspects mean it won't gel with everyone, but for those looking for a challenging, addictive arcade shooter, this comes highly recommended.
  40. Apr 29, 2021
    90
    Housemarque successfully pulls off what made their arcade games so addictive into a beautifully crafted 3D mysterious world.
  41. 90
    Returnal cast a spell on me -- awing with explosive combat, immersing with haptics, and captivating with a monumental atmosphere. Not only is it an easy game of the year contender, but it might also be one of the best action rogue-lites ever made.
  42. Apr 29, 2021
    90
    Returnal is an amazing game from Housemarque that translates the arcade gameplay the studio is known for to an intriguing 3D world. Gameplay doesn't get better than this, making Returnal a must-play for anyone who wants to experience what next-gen is truly about.
  43. Apr 29, 2021
    90
    Returnal is constantly unsettling and consistently challenging. Its mysterious story and demanding action feel intense, urgent, and fresh. The fast-moving combat manages to appear incredibly daunting, bordering on overwhelming, without ever actually becoming insurmountable. Every moment is a rush, either because you just barely evaded a giant purple laser or because you have no idea why there's an Apollo-era astronaut following your every move. Do you need to be a little brave to play Returnal? Yeah. Do you need to be glutton for punishment? It helps. They say that anything worth doing should scare you at least a little bit. I'm not sure if that's always true, but Returnal makes a strong case.
  44. Apr 29, 2021
    90
    Firsts don’t come around very often, but this is one of PlayStation’s first PS5 exclusives and Housemarque’s first triple A releases, and the combination is a triumphant success. I’m not sure how they’ve managed everything in play, taking the bullet-hell stylings of old and meshing them with the trappings of a third-person roguelike, but it works to a fantastic degree. On top of that, the action-packed gameplay is some of the best around, additionally being one of the most immersive and next-gen experiences available thanks to an incredible understanding of the DualSense controller. Yes, the story may take a backseat, but that’s the nature of the roguelike genre, and doesn’t hinder Returnal in the slightest. I may not be much for roguelikes, but I can see myself “returning” to play this one again and again.
  45. Apr 29, 2021
    90
    Returnal is undoubtedly one of Housemarque’s best games and is a triumph for the PlayStation 5. The premise is interesting right off the bat, and the way the game feeds narrative breadcrumbs throughout the game only made me want to continue on. With the tight gameplay that the studio is known for, along with an intriguing story and blockbuster presentation, Housemarque hits all the right spots. Returnal sits as one of PlayStation’s most unique exclusives.
  46. Apr 29, 2021
    90
    What should have been a hotchpotch of other people’s ideas, made worse by frustratingly high difficulty, is in reality one of the most cleverly designed video games of recent years, with superb action and endless replayability.
  47. 90
    Returnal is a masterclass in how to create gripping, exhilarating arcade action and feels like the first game to truly realise the PS5's potential. It uses everything the system offers to craft an experience completely unlike anything else available today at this budget. Apart from narrative missteps, Housemarque's latest is flawless and a game that everyone who owns a PS5 and every gamer should experience at some point. I hope this is the start of a new, prosperous franchise for PlayStation and Housemaque.
  48. 90
    With some doubt at the front of people’s minds, Returnal is a shushing finger across the lips of detractors as well as a tremendous example that PlayStation’s middle line titles can still offer as much value and entertainment as its tentpole exclusives. Housemarque achieves an atmosphere like few can and set up a universe ripe for expansion while marrying it to a grind — which is more forgiving than most of its kind but will still alienate some —that’s both brutal and gratifying all at once.
  49. Apr 29, 2021
    90
    Given that Returnal was not amongst the most anticipated upcoming games of 2021, carrying a sort of underdog label, it is a massive surprise. Housemarque has carried out its most ambitious project and, although it has slight shortcomings, it is one of the games that best use the DualSense and PS5 characteristics, thus becoming an essential pick for both shooters and roguelikes fans alike. And, of course, it's very addictive.
  50. Apr 29, 2021
    90
    Returnal sets a new standard for Housemarque and delivers a must-play game for fans of roguelike titles while offering everyone else a genuinely unique experience. The game masterfully blends arcade-inspired gameplay with AAA quality chops usually reserved for a first-party PlayStation developer.
  51. Apr 29, 2021
    90
    Returnal is an unrelenting and unforgiving challenge for the ages, but it still captures the magic of what makes Housemarque so special. It has a weirdly unique style and substance, every level is an unpredictable white-knuckle ride and it fully commits to its rogue-like influences. The end result isn’t just a showcase title for what the PS5 is capable of, it’s a thrilling mix of arcade bullet-hell gaming with precision thrill power.
  52. Apr 29, 2021
    90
    From the moment it starts, Returnal is unrelentingly challenging in a way that begs the player to try just one more time.
  53. Apr 29, 2021
    90
    Returnal is a captivating PS5 exclusive which blends a third person shooter with several cornerstones of the roguelike/roguelite genre in an astounding result. Housemarque creates a challenging and rewarding gameplay delivering in every other aspect of the experience: graphics, sound and DualSense features above all. Then the plot...a complex and convoluted mystery that will definitely capture you.
  54. Apr 29, 2021
    88
    If there's a sticking point to Returnal, it's that it's a big PS5 exclusive that is most definitely not for everyone. It's next-gen beautiful all the way, but if you've never played a game like this before, even all that beauty and amazing design might not be worth the sense of dejection you might feel as the body count starts mounting. Returnal and other games like it will force newer players to ask questions about what kind of games they want to experience. It takes a little bit of weird thinking to relish the prospect of repeated punishment. I recommend it, just for the experience of it. If you're part of that wider audience who wants to give a next-gen roguelike a shot, then be prepared for an awakening. And another one. And … another one.
  55. Apr 29, 2021
    88
    Quotation forthcoming.
  56. Apr 29, 2021
    88
    Returnal is a difficult rogue-like shooter in a class of its own, whose many strengths outweigh the balancing weaknesses.
  57. Apr 29, 2021
    88
    Returnal may have made people think "this game is not for everybody", but after playing it, this quote definitely does not make much sense. Returnal is fresh, addictive and maybe can end up being a game that can break barriers for the roguelike genre.
  58. Apr 29, 2021
    88
    There are many rogue-likes out there. Returnal is one of the best - and the first on a AAA-level. Have fun and don’t quit – it is worth it!
  59. Apr 29, 2021
    87
    We can say a lot about Returnal, but in the end it is best to understand that behind the gunfights with next-gen graphics and the roguelike mechanics at half throttle lies a Housemarque game: a high-speed arcade that is a pleasure to play. They may not have reached it, but they have stayed very close to touching the sun.
  60. Apr 29, 2021
    87
    Returnal is complex, it is punitive, it is mysterious. It is a powerful act of courage, a “leap into the void” that could inaugurate a bright future for Housemarque or put his work at risk. Recklessness and ambition are not enough to break through, but in this case they are accompanied by a great creative vision, solid production values and a meticulous and calculated design. Returnal does not reach the perfection of Hades, but is destined to leave his mark on the Roguelike landscape, letting himself be played, watched, discovered again. And again, and again ...
  61. May 2, 2021
    85
    There is no pleasure without some pain. There is no pain without a certain pleasure. These words spoken by the monk Henepola Gunaratana (94 years old this year) perfectly match what Returnal stands for. The game is far from free flaws, but it offers a thunderous spectacle, especially during boss battles, with these ballets of particles that light up the screen and make you want to be contemplative.
  62. Apr 29, 2021
    85
    Returnal makes us feel confusion, excitement, fear and fascination, being one of the best adventures of the new generation. A combination of genres and styles not tested so far that, even with its flaws, works so well in terms of story and gameplay, showing that Housemarque is a studio for much more than arcade games.
  63. Apr 29, 2021
    85
    Roguelikes can be divisive, I know - but that shouldn't deter you from playing what is an excellent PS5 exclusive and most definitely, it's biggest game in 2021 so far.
  64. Apr 29, 2021
    85
    Housemarque combines many ideas and genre in a game that is, above anything else, fun. It might fall a bit short as a roguelike, but we’ve had a great time with it.
  65. Apr 29, 2021
    85
    Returnal is a shining technical achievement, possibly the best looking game on PlayStation 5. With addictive gunplay, a brutal learning curve, and a focus on exploration and temporary buffs, roguelike fans will be in heaven. Be warned though, the difficulty level is not for everyone. Though I learned to love Returnal with time, many players may walk away frustrated.
  66. Apr 29, 2021
    85
    Returnal is a great debut for Housmarque on the PS5. The $70 price tag may be off-putting for some, but it makes a great case for itself thanks to excellent gameplay, an intriguing narrative, and replayability. It would be nice if some of the areas felt more distinct from one another and there are a few tech issues left to iron out. Regardless, Returnal is a blast to play and worth going down the rabbit hole in search of its secrets.
  67. Apr 29, 2021
    84
    Returnal is one of the surprises of this 2021. Housemarque creates a strong shooter that demonstrates the capabilities of PS5.
  68. May 5, 2021
    83
    Returnal is a brutally tough but satisfying roguelike journey that is buoyed by its addictive combat and myriad of weapons, items and upgrades that ensure the journey doesn't get stale. Its narrative is gripping and unsettling, its visual aesthetic is arresting and despite a high level of difficulty, it's a damn joy to play.
  69. Apr 29, 2021
    81
    Returnal is unique, original and atmospheric, with gameplay that is tight like a tiger. It could’ve been a true system seller for the PS5, if not for the insanely unpredictable difficulty and the overload of gameplay systems that can make it playing it feel frustratingly unfair. Hopefully some updates can make Returnal less unbalanced and more fun, because there is a truly remarkable game here, that could be for everyone.
  70. May 10, 2021
    80
    Returnal is a game that sucked me in through its design, and achieves the eerie atmosphere promised from its promotional material. It then kept me hooked by having some of the best feeling combat and boss fights I have ever experienced, which is helped by its on-point audio implementation. It’s a shame then that poor pacing and lack of save structure tainted my experience with Housemarque’s unique third person roguelite experiment. Despite this disappointing downside, I still can’t help but recommend it to anybody who enjoys satisfying combat with a horror-tinged mystery to explore.
  71. May 7, 2021
    80
    Returnal is a tightly designed roguelike with some of the best gameplay the genre can provide, and it's the first game since Demon's Souls to provide a reason to own a PS5. If you’re looking for an experience that really takes advantage of the latest console hardware, Returnal offers it and a lot more.
  72. May 3, 2021
    80
    With its fast and fun action, Returnal can look like a cool sci-fi game where tons of enemies turn into colorful explosions at a fast pace. That is also how it feels for a while, until we die. And die and die again. Everything wants to kill us and when we die, we must start all over again – without most of the items, weapons, and enhancements we had collected. It is frustrating, yet we can not wait to restart immediately. We want to keep exploring the sinister world, we want keep fighting against all the horrible creatures – and most of all we want to understand what is happening to Selene. The unforgiving setup will probably divide people, but for anyone with an interest in sci-fi – this is a gem.
  73. May 2, 2021
    80
    Returnal is a fairly forgiving roguelike that quickly shows its true size and scale. It offers an excellent atmosphere and combat systems, with an intelligently woven plot. A solid recommendation for PlayStation 5 owners.
  74. Returnal the game that combines roguelike and metroidvania genres, using horror elements as spice. Combining so many different types in them, it has managed to keep the aspects that all of them are successful in, despite some of their shortcomings.
  75. Apr 29, 2021
    80
    Returnal combines the adrenaline of a bullet hell shooter, the depth of a roguelike and the allure of a blockbuster game. That special mix provides a gaming experience that is as unforgettable as it is unforgivable.
  76. Apr 29, 2021
    80
    Returnal is a bold sci-fi adventure, where the plot and the setting co-exist in a very natural way, while everything else being brought to life through unique DualSense features and great sound from the Pulse 3D headset.
  77. Apr 29, 2021
    80
    Returnal mixes the peculiarities of roguelike with continuous progress that rewards the efforts and dedication of the player, with an enigmatic story that will keep us prisoners of that house that we will visit (or not) in each new attempt. Perhaps it fails in trying to offer an experience like infinite roguelike.
  78. Apr 29, 2021
    80
    Though the ending doesn’t fully deliver on the hours of build-up, it’s still a worthwhile tale to explore. The combination of roguelike design with third-person bullet-hell gameplay mechanics is a true treat, keeping players on their toes and continuously challenging them to get better. Returnal can get repetitive, particularly in the second half due to the repetition of layouts and long bouts between the biomes. Still, the addictive, fast-paced nature of the gameplay helps keep players engaged. Holding it all together is a beautiful presentation filled with next-gen flair and spectacular audio design. Housemarque has done a wonderful job with Returnal and it’s well worth living, dying and repeating to get to the final credits.
  79. Apr 29, 2021
    80
    Returnal is a punishing game which revels in the brutality of its challenge – and given the randomness baked in to the roguelike conceit, it doesn’t always feel like a fair one. Extreme difficulty spikes abound and ultimately twitch-like reflexes will only get you so far; the success or otherwise of any given run can often depend on which weapon types, buff-bestowing artefacts or consumables appear early on. I managed to blitz through one of the game's six biomes, boss-fight and all, at the first attempt thanks to a fortuitous combination of auto-healing augmentations and a launcher blessed with homing ammunition. Conversely, soldiering on with a sub-optimal build can be a dispiriting struggle.
  80. Apr 29, 2021
    80
    Returnal is a winning combination of big-budget production value and creative, genre-spanning gameplay that’s usually reserved for cult indie hits. It tells a haunting sci-fi story that thematically justifies its cyclical, roguelite setup. Demanding action combined with a lack of viable build options turn too many runs into frustrating nonstarters, but a compelling mystery and fast-paced action always provide a strong reason to die and try again.
  81. Apr 29, 2021
    80
    The combat system itself ensures a memorable experience of constant challenges, of which the bosses are the focal point. The difficulty inherent in the genre is rarely a source of frustration, and the exhilarating sense of accomplishment is so present. Unfortunately, the procedural generation sometimes struggles to find a certain balance, which penalizes the time of a time loop for the players.
  82. Apr 29, 2021
    80
    Returnal is the most important game for Housemarque, with a stellar gameplay and a ever changing structure of levels. However, procedural algorithms create some problem with casual enemy spawn and luck managment.
  83. Apr 29, 2021
    80
    Returnal can be messy, tough, and perhaps a little too uncompromising for a $70 game. And yet, despite the moments of pad-clenching exasperation, it remains a moreish experience even after you’ve plummeted its depths.
  84. Apr 29, 2021
    80
    While Returnal’s marriage of rogue-like loops and serpentine story isn’t perfect, it’s a dark, engaging, and innovative experience which provides plenty of gameplay grunt to match its brain-teasing plot. There’s symbolism to ponder, Easter eggs to spot, and tons of memorable moments across the 20 or so hours it’ll take you to reach the end the first time, with yet more to unlock and mess with after you’ve mastered the core concepts on your initial clear.
  85. Apr 29, 2021
    80
    The moment-to-moment gameplay of Returnal is sublime, with a great selection of weapons that each have a wide variety of interesting possible traits, meaningful strategic decisions that can either keep a run afloat or doom it to sink, and punishingly challenging yet rewarding gunplay that is consistently exhilarating. Even with all of this focus on action, it never drops the ball on the story. Its big issue is that runs last way too long, and there’s no way to save progress outside of putting the PS5 in rest mode. That saps the desire to immediately return and try again after a failure, though not enough to grind it to a halt. Even so, Returnal is an incredible roguelike, and one of Housemarque’s best games to date.
  86. Apr 29, 2021
    80
    Returnal's constant action and clever semi-procedural structure make it an engaging adventure, not to mention a visually stunning one. The lack of any difficulty levels may unfortunately exclude less experienced gamers, but anyone who doesn't mind dying a bunch of times will thoroughly enjoy themselves.
  87. Apr 29, 2021
    80
    Returnal is a blast to play, with nice visuals, exceptional sound production and one of the best DualSense implementations to date. There is a significant degree of difficulty that might discourage a lot of players, but the gameplay is so addictive that it keeps you coming back for more.
  88. Apr 29, 2021
    80
    Despite certain shortcomings in variety and clarity, Returnal manages to deliver both an engaging story and fast-paced gameplay at almost every turn.
  89. Apr 29, 2021
    80
    Dead Nation developer Housemarque doesn't fail with Returnal, but also can't thrill the gaming world with its ambitious Roguelike shooter. Aside from its promising start, the game increasingly disqualifies itself for a more general audience by walking a fine line between being mercilessly tough and frustrating. Nevertheless for hardcore gamers Returnal is still worth playing.
  90. Apr 29, 2021
    80
    Not the 80 euros system seller Sony wants it to be, but Returnal is still a great roguelite shooter, original and inventive.
  91. Apr 29, 2021
    80
    Returnal is a fascinating mix of genres, between science fiction, horror, and psychology, which gives a much more immersive and scary adventure than what we are used to in a Rogue-like. The realization is good, and the game takes full advantage of the PS5's performance to achieve this result. The gameplay is solid and the fights are intense, especially when you have to desperately survive in the middle of a deluge of projectiles in order to progress further and further. It's a shame, though, that it quickly becomes repetitive, even with its somewhat short lifespan (about 30 hours), with the added bonus of a game design that breaks the rhythm by encouraging us to go back and forth too much.
  92. Apr 29, 2021
    80
    People who love hard video games will find a lot to praise in Returnal, but the haunting beauty of Atropos is surrounded by a harsh environment that will overwhelm those who can't keep up.
  93. 80
    I do admire Returnal. From aesthetics and atmosphere, through to its structure, this is a game that is confident, and even brave in the “blockbuster” space that it will be playing in. You can see that the team at Housemarque had a creative vision and were prepared to lose players over it, in return for delivering a purity of that vision. And as a result, this is the first original PlayStation 5 title that I’ve found compelling, given that Demon’s Souls was a remake. When I look at why I find it compelling, it’s for the effectiveness of the horror and the slick vision for action games that it offers. Scratch beneath that surface and the game doesn’t say much to justify its existence, and it is going to be far too challenging for a lot of players, but within its fairly narrow scope, for the audience that it was made for, Returnal is going to be a vividly entertaining ride.
  94. Apr 29, 2021
    80
    Returnal excellently blends third-person shooter gameplay with bullet-hell style enemies and roguelike elements to craft a fun, challenging action game that you’ll have a blast learning to master. The only real shame is that the action is yoked to a story that mistakes being vague for being smart and interesting.
  95. May 11, 2021
    75
    Returnal is a game that comes at a time when PS5 owners are starved for a new title. It will do really well, but I wonder how many people will stick with it due to the roguelike nature. The launch issues are also causing problems with losing runs, which are overly long and really defeating when lost. Still it did something very few games of its type manage to do, it got me to really enjoy the genre. I loved playing Returnal and I would definitely love a linear-progression version of it, but am perfectly satisfied jumping back in just to play because it feels so good. I hope they make some quality of life changes over time and really bring this game home. As it stands this is a great roguelike experience that can deliver many hours of entertainment if you don’t mind recycling that fun over and over.
  96. May 4, 2021
    75
    Almost everything about Returnal is working towards making it the premier PS5 exclusive. Stellar graphics, a great story, and amazing gameplay make it a joy to play, but a lack of saving and the constant fear of crashes make it hard to recommend at the present moment. At the end of the day, Returnal is a fantastic game, but whether or not you want to risk wasting hours of your life on potential crashes is really up to you.
  97. I don’t see Returnal becoming another Uncharted-style mega-franchise for Sony. It’s just too punishing and quirky to nab a massive audience. That said, it’s a well-produced and polished play that doesn’t really feel like anything else out there at the moment. If you’re not afraid of a challenge, it may be worth adding to your PlayStation playlist.
  98. Apr 29, 2021
    75
    Returnal is a thrilling sci-fi action romp that suffers from a lack of scale at times.
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  1. Apr 29, 2021
    Returnal is frenetic and challenging. It takes all the roguelike basics and applies the kind of fast-paced shooter that Housemarque has always loved to make. [Recommended]
  2. Apr 29, 2021
    I really like Returnal, but if you check the Ars Slack logs, you'll find that I complained quite a bit along the way. I needed a full 10 hours for its combat and universe to click in a crucial, "I want to beat this game" way, and I'm still left wondering how many good ideas and systems were left out of this game just to get its sky-high aspirations out the door. Maybe some of my positive bias comes from dreams of a sequel, which might build upon Housemarque's first stab at the genre. But I won't blame anyone for having less patience with Returnal's uneven ambition (or its $70 price point, which, from what I've seen, does not favorably compare to last year's $60 Last of Us Part 2 or Ghost of Tsushima, also published by Sony). But this is the stuff that keeps Sony fanboys drooling: ambitious new IP that succeeds more than it fails while turning the familiar into something fresh. Returnal clearly heralds a new era for Housemarque, in terms of turning the focused arcade-blasting likes of Super Stardust HD into quest-worthy 3D action. Keep it coming, Sony and Housemarque. [Ars Technica Approved]
  3. Apr 29, 2021
    The result is a game that has everything I wanted to love, but when the stakes are this high, unfair design is unforgivable. No doubt some PS5 owners will love the gauntlet that Returnal offers – the satisfaction of progress, when it all clicks together, can be excellent. But it’s not a game that respects your time. So I’ll just go back and play Hades instead – a game made retroactively even better now that its greatest strengths have been laid bare by Returnal's shortcomings.
  4. May 6, 2021
    Returnal misinterprets the incremental progress integral to the success of the roguelite. These games are supposed to carry a level of frustration and feel difficult early on in order to challenge players. But Roguelites are supposed to carry a glimmer of hope: Next time will be easier. Next time I'll be stronger. All too often, Returnal denies players that hope and that makes it difficult to keep going when it feels like all is lost. The game is about being stuck in a time loop, but it's not supposed to feel like I'm actually stuck in a time loop.
  5. Apr 29, 2021
    Returnal gets halfway to doing it. It is full of real, bona fide video game magic, but with each death it becomes less special, more mundane, and this is why it feels so difficult to pick up the controller again, why Returnal feels like it doesn't want to be played. But the magic it does have is transcendent. And so I do still want to play it - whether Returnal likes it or not. [Eurogamer Recommended]
  6. Apr 29, 2021
    The game is freakin’ gorgeous. You get the standard next-gen fidelity benchmarks—4K resolution and a framerate of 60 frames per second—but the beauty of Returnal is more than mere numbers. It’s how moonlight peeks through the forest canopy, or how blue-tendril fauna arcs toward Selene in moments of respite. It’s the way snow shuffles in the wind. It’s the way fog parts as you stroll through buried tombs. Returnal moves at a brisk pace, but I’ve spent long moments just standing still, drinking in the sights.
  7. I didn’t get very far in Returnal, and it’s not for lack of trying. The game is tough for me — and I play “Dark Souls” to relax. [Impressions]
  8. Apr 29, 2021
    Returnal expertly weaves shoot 'em up and Metroidvania mechanics into its base, roguelike gameplay. Though its tight controls, visual fidelity, and intriguing story may entice you to play, the game's almost insurmountable difficulty will certainly alienate a portion of its intended audience.
  9. Apr 29, 2021
    Even after more than 60 runs of Returnal, the enchanting presentation and sense of discovery still remain. I now feel vigorous compared to the creatures that have tried to defend their territory against an unwanted visitor. The last boss only took me one try to beat it, yet I could barely make any progress in finding the right answers. I feel like I’m running in circles. But I’m not giving up.
  10. Apr 30, 2021
    Returnal is not a system seller. (Damn thing’s $500, so what could live up to that?) But it is bold, cool, and fearless, full of shocking moments and highly addictive systems. (I haven’t even dipped into the game’s obsessive focus on risk and reward, constantly daring you to take a debilitating weakness in exchange for a much-needed dose of power.) If you already own one of Sony’s big white bookends, though, I’ll be blunt: You probably owe it to yourself to check out the first really great PlayStation 5 game.
  11. Apr 30, 2021
    The more pressing problem: the second zone isn't that interesting. But the shooting is good. Really good. I just don't know how long that'll last. [10-Hour Impressions]