Learn more about the game

Returnal Is the Ultimate Introduction to Roguelikes

Roguelikes are incredibly popular, and Returnal might be the best way to get into the genre. Its third-person twist with its pacing opens the door for newcomers to test the waters to see if this alien world is right for them. Even veterans might want to check it out if you can get your hands on a PS5.

Returnal Is the Ultimate Introduction to Roguelikes

Roguelikes and lites are quite popular, and I feel even more so every year. Games like Hades launch the discourse around the genre to the moon. Then here I am, not taking part in it as someone who has not really touched those games. Recently, I tried out Risk of Rain 2, which is a lot of fun but not enough to keep my attention. As a PS5 owner, I got Returnal due to its hype, and now I want to try more games in this realm as it has proven itself as the ultimate introduction to roguelikes.

I need to emphasize that Housemarque’s latest release is beyond getting me into a new genre. As of writing, it is my favorite game of the year. Even with Ratchet & Clank next month and if God of War: Ragnarok launches this year, it will still be a contender to take home the number one spot in my heart. 

Third-person shooter as an accessible point

What I gravitate toward are often shooters, first or third-person. The feel of Selene jumping around and shooting felt familiar to me, opening the door for me to jam with the developer’s twist on the genre. Most of the time, I felt I was playing a normal shooter and not a roguelike. 

Time to shoot some weird looking aliens

Time to shoot some weird looking aliens

When I look at a game like Noita, a retro-styled roguelite with cool physics was a really well-made game that did not click with me at all. It was not my preference when I look at the majority of games I play. That was one of the few times I tried to give it a try, but that was dipping my feet in the water and then leaving as it was too cold. Meanwhile, Returnal was the right temperature to be an introduction into roguelikes. Now, I am a little more open-minded about the traditional titles that are out there.

Making death not frustrating

Death is a vital element of these kinds of games. Expect to die, then restart a good bit of progress only to have to redo that suffering all over again. Housemarque delivers an experience that does not make me want to rage quit; instead, I want to persist until I can make progress. Most critics took issue without being able to save and cycles being too long. It never bothered me as I could run through areas pretty quickly to get from one biome to the next. If I went from the first environment to the third then died, I would make it where I was before in a reasonable amount of time if luck was on my side.

Pacing is everything, and with the focus on action, I can get lost shooting aliens, dodging neon lights of death, and snagging upgrades to make Selene into a killing machine. Time flies by, and if I am spending a couple of hours in a run, then I don’t care. Having a blast makes me forget how long I am alive, and when I come to my demise, I am sprint through the door into the first area to do it all over again.

Returnal - Gameplay Trailer | PS5

A technical marvel

When my expectations are low, then I need to be impressed. Hell, I have standards that are hard to meet across any medium, thus making me hard to please and annoying my friends and family when trying to get me to watch a movie or play a new game. I can’t count how many games I have refunded on Steam that my buddies convinced me to buy that I didn’t like after an hour of playing. The PS5 exclusive impressed me with its technical aspects that went above and beyond anything I have ever played or seen.

I already adore the DualSense, but it is mindblowing feeling certain sensations. I could not fathom some of the things that were happening that I could not process the technological happenings inside of the controller. Feeling individual droplets of rain when first booting up and going through the first biome was unbelievable. I knew that was a feature from posts on Twitter, but feeling it is another story. Then, somehow these wizards and witches at the Finnish studio that might as well be Hogwarts had a door creep open horror movie style, and I felt it in my hands as the PS5 controller mimicked what was happening on my TV. My jaw dropped to the floor, and I wanted to digest every morsel of this delicious experience.


Go play Returnal if you are not into roguelikes, as it is the best introduction to the genre. That said, PS5s are really hard to get; if you don’t own one, then be patient and if or when you do, then pick this up. For those of you who are lucky to have the current-gen console, buy it right now. I can’t recommend it enough as it changed my whole viewpoint on an entire genre with what it was able to deliver.

What roguelikes and lites should I check out now that I am into these games? Let me know in the comments.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>