Today, the official release of the action bagel Returnal took place – a new big PlayStation 5 exclusive. The average score on Metacritic was 86/100. Most of all, the game is praised for its shooter mechanics, addictive gameplay and extensive use of new DualSense features. However, opinions about the plot and sometimes too random races were divided.

About the game

Returnal is a third—person action game that combines elements of roguelite and horror. The project was developed by Finland’s oldest studio Housemarque, which is known for quite hardcore, but niche games Resogun, Dead Nation, Nex Machina and the Stardust series. Returnal was, in fact, the first AAA project for the team.

The plot of the game tells about Selina, the pilot of a spaceship. She crashes on the hostile planet Atropos, where she falls into a time loop and her inner fears come to life. 

Opinions of critics

Eight portals, including Game Rant, GameSpew and IndieWire, gave the highest scores to the game at once. The latest edition called Returnal “an epic bagel worth dying for” and noted that the game combines the grandiosity of Dark Souls with the addictiveness of Hades.

It’s an incredibly difficult idea to invest tens of millions in a hardcore, mostly single—player game that was created to humiliate random players who dared to take it lightly. Even if it gets them more and more carried away each time and makes them obsessed with death runs. It’s like if Marvel spent the budget of Infinity War on something as hostile to the viewer as The Turin Horse [2011 Hungarian philosophical drama – approx.].


GameSpot rated Returnal 9/10. Among the advantages, the publication called a mysterious and frightening story, as well as the use of DualSense features and shooter mechanics. At the same time, the author of the review noted that success in many races depends on randomness and what kind of weapons will come across in the process. This project was written down as a minus.

A wide selection of weapons and equipment is both a blessing and a curse. On the one hand, you don’t have to repeat the same strategy over and over again. On the other hand, your success largely depends on finding the right items. To some extent, this is true for most bagels, but here it is especially noticeable: when I collected the right equipment, there was no stopping me. When I couldn’t do it, I could hardly pass even individual sections.


IGN put Returnal 8/10, calling it one of the best Housemarque games. The author of the review reached the final credits in 18 hours, and in total he spent 42 hours in the game. He spent extra time discovering the secret ending and additional content, like collecting audio diaries with Lore. In addition to the gameplay and plot, the technical part of the project was praised.

Most of all, Returnal gives a feeling of being inopportune thanks to the capabilities of the DualSense controller. With the exception of Astro’s Playroom, this is the best use of haptic feedback and adaptive triggers on the PS5. Of course, it’s great to feel raindrops through the controller, but even cooler is the element of sensory feedback, which signals the recharge of an alternative firing mode.


The Gamer portal rated Returnal 3.5/5, praising the high-speed gameplay, pleasant shooting mechanics and an intriguing plot. At the same time, the high complexity of the game was recorded both in the pros and cons.

Returnal is one of the most enjoyable third—person shooters I’ve ever played. It’s a mixture of Hades and Vanquish. She makes you put up with her fast pace, and because of this, Doom Eternal seems like a shooter for kids. She’s gorgeous, fierce and promising. I just wish that success was not so tied to luck, which only makes it more disappointing when you constantly return to the locations you have already passed.

The Gamer

The lowest Returnal score was set by Jeff Grubb from GamesBeat. He rated the project 3/5, citing the monotony of the races and the lack of sufficient variety of mechanics. Grubb also noted the overload of the picture with visual effects and some flaws in the animation.

I wanted to quit the game when I was struggling with its complexity. I like projects that challenge me, but bagels have to draw a fine line between habit and routine. The first is a warm feeling that makes you feel at home in the game, and the routine is boredom that poisons such projects.


Russian publications generally accepted Returnal well, although they found a number of shortcomings in the game. Igromania gave Returnal 4/5, most of all praising the mechanics of battles and visual design. At the same time, the narrative, some monotony of gameplay and rare departures that destroy progress were criticized.

For me, Returnal turned out to be a disappointment. The intriguing plot was ruined by the stupid manner of narration, and the strong gameplay foundation was an unsuccessful meta. We can only dream what would happen if, instead of endless repetitions of the same thing, we were presented with an equally beautiful and mechanically honed “metroidvania”.

“Gambling addiction”

DTF praises the game for its solid story, visual style, sound and combat system, but criticizes it for not having enough content compared to other bagels and questions the $70 price tag.

Despite the technological picture, the ascetic visual design of Returnal can scare away, not to mention the gameplay, which requires, as they say, “Git Gud”. This is a game “for your own”, for those who enjoyed Resogun, Hades, Furi or even Touhou. But those games were much cheaper.

DTF rated Returnal 9/10, praising the replayability, the main character, the plot and the use of DualSense features.

If you are mentally ready to face a higher level of complexity than in typical PlayStation blockbusters, a new project from Housemarque is definitely worth giving a chance. After all, among other things, so far this is one of the main opportunities to get some kind of inappropriate experience: even without truly breakthrough graphics, but with a complete lack of downloads, 60 FPS gameplay and new sensations from the gamepad.

Medusa also wrote her review on Returnal, calling it “the most bizarre and merciless PS5 exclusive.”

Returnal works just like the classic games for the NES and Sega consoles from the 1990s, which were artificially complicated so that the passage took longer. At the same time, there is such a paradox: the better you understand Returnal and its world order, the more you admire it.