Three Years Later, There’s No PlayStation 5 Game Quite Like Returnal

A true exclusive by every stretch of the imagination.

Story Highlights

  • Returnal is Housemarque’s debut AAA title, made exclusively for the PlayStation 5 though now on PC too. 
  • The rogue-like shooter utilizes the various capacities of the PlayStation 5 to a perfect extent. 
  • Returnal is one of the few PlayStation games that feel like it was truly made for the PS5. 

I’ll be honest with you, back in 2020 when Returnal was announced for the first time, I didn’t exactly know what I was about to get myself into. Housemarque, despite being the oldest Finnish developer in the business, has always worked on relatively smaller-scale titles, so the skepticism of people regarding the developer being able to handle a AAA IP for the first time was on point.

Little did we know that not only Returnal would turn out exceptionally superb on its own, but would also end up being the best PlayStation 5 exclusive to date — at least in my eyes — utilizing both the console and the DualSense like no other first-party title. 

Let’s go more into depth as to why I think the PlayStation generation this time around is yet to receive a game that’s on par with the standard of Returnal, all things considered.  

Returnal Needs To Be Talked About More

Returnal's Bullet Hell Storm Paves The Way For Tantalizing Gameplay
Returnal’s Bullet Hell Storm Paves The Way For Tantalizing Gameplay | Source: PlayStation 

I might come across as a little bit biased here, considering how it’s been three years+ since the game came out, but I feel like Returnal doesn’t get talked about enough, not anymore at least. With the level of attention to detail present in this third-person shooter, coupled with the potency of the DualSense and how the controller shines in Returnal, this is the closest to the promised “next-gen experience” we have at the moment. 

Returnal is awesome
byu/willrsauls ingaming

Remarkable Atmosphere And Visuals

Returnal Boasts A Rich, Detailed Level Design & Environment
Returnal Boasts A Rich, Detailed Level Design & Overall Environment | Source: PlayStation

Taking full advantage of that admirable PlayStation 5 hardware, Returnal feels authentic and fitting. How? Let me lay it down for you precisely. First off, it’s the audio, which is flat-out phenomenal, that works in favor of uplifting the overall gameplay experience of the third-person shooter. After all, you don’t win a BAFTA award for nothing, do you?

Just make sure you’ve enabled the “3D Audio” setting on your PlayStation 5, and that should do the trick. I played through the title with PlayStation’s official Pulse 3D headset, but you don’t need to have that one in specific to immerse yourself into the aural delight that is Returnal. Talk about knowing when to dodge just by hearing the bullets coming. Incredible. 

Returnal is the first game that actually implemented 3D audio properly.
byu/SnooMemesjellies3267 inPS5

Staying True To The Moniker Of The PS5’s “Lightning-Fast SSD”

Another way this game has been optimized so well to run on the PlayStation 5 is little to none loading screens where you have to stare at a blank screen for 20 seconds or so. All that has been left way back in the past, and for good reason. Even if you’re switching from one major region to the next, all it’s gonna take is a sleek animation, and that’s it. You’re thrown right into the next area, ready to go all out. 

Returnal might be the greatest early game I’ve ever played on a system. For Housemarque to pull off this kind of quality in essentially every single area of development so quickly with new hardware and on their first attempt with a AAA project, it’s extraordinary. Everything is just amazing. Fantastic use of the controller. The way the triggers feel while blasting away. The way L2 works with the trigger lock mechanisms to utilize it for aim or secondary fire. Amazing,” says one u/OpticalPrime35.

Kudos To Housemarque For A Brilliant First Attempt At AAA Game Making

It bears mentioning here that Housemarque never dipped its toes into the AAA video game development space prior to working on Returnal in collaboration with SIE (Sony Interactive Entertainment). If you head over to the “Games” section of its official website, you’ll find titles Nex Machina, Matterfall, Alienation, Resogun, and Outland, with the latter’s release going as far back as 2011 for Windows PCs. 

Some of the Other Games That Housemarque Has Worked On
Some of the Other Games That Housemarque Has Worked On | Source: Housemarque

Now, none of these are the type of titles that fall in the high-end domain, so for a developer like Housemarque punching way above its weight and pulling it off like a champ isn’t something you see everyday happening. Credit where it’s due, Returnal is extremely well-built, save for a couple of hiccups here and then, which I’m sure no game — not even those 10/10 score grabbers — is exempt from.  

Are There Chances Of A New Returnal Anytime Soon? 

For those wondering after coursing through the roguelike, the answer is yes. You should always cling to hope if there’s nothing else to rely on but to cut the metaphors short and speak realistically, there are no plans for a Housemarque sequel at the moment, as Housemarque’s next game is a different IP. 

In a brief interview with VentureBeat, the CEO of Housemarque Ilari Kuittinen said the following about the studio’s current focus, 

We had our stint working on multiplayer games, because a few years back it seemed like you needed to have some kind of multiplayer experience. We tried that, and we really didn’t do it as well. But it’s early days with us starting a new game, a new IP, concepting it out. We’ll see what comes with that.” 

I sure as hell would love to see what’s coming next from Housemarque, as not even a sliver of doubt remains to question this dev’s capability, given the level of top-notch work it’s done with Returnal. Until the time comes to move on from the title at hand, however, I’ll continue the grind, trying new ways to beat Selene’s endless loop for good. 

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Huzaifa, an Online News Editor at, is a video game industry aficionado with a talent for unearthing the juiciest stories for his beloved readers. Currently pursuing a Bachelor of Science degree in Data Science, he dives deep into the abyss of news, meticulously dissecting every tiny detail to serve his audience. When he's not unravelling breaking news, he becomes a master storyteller, conjuring up captivating tales from the depths of his imagination. With a wealth of experience as a Video Game Journalist, he's penned his mighty words for numerous other video game outlets, leaving no video game unturned and no pixel unexplored! Experience: 4+ Years || Education: Bachelor of Science in Data Science || Previously Worked at VeryAli Gaming & TheNerdMag || Covered 100+ News Articles

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