Housemarque has revealed new story details regarding Returnal, its upcoming roguelike shooter for the PS5. Alongside a new story trailer, the developer took to the PlayStation blog to discuss the game’s narrative and world.
Storytelling is a big new feature to Housemarque games and we have a bold story to tell. Our goal with Returnal is to tell a mysterious, layered, and haunting story that – like our explosive action gameplay and roguelike twists – is something you discover, replay, and rethink on every play.
Death Is No Escape
The protagonist of the game is Selene, a deep space scout who has defied orders for the first time. She travels to the planet Atropos, following the ‘White Shadow’ broadcast signal, where she crash lands into the ruins of an alien civilisation. The developer states that everything on this planet is hostile, and will attack on sight.
After succumbing to Atropos’ various hazards and dying, Selene awakens back in her cockpit and so the cycle begins. However, every run will feature a different layout, providing a different challenge each time. Luckily, there will be certain items that pertain to permanent progress, and shortcuts to uncover.
Storytelling is also done through the deciphering of holographic statues called ‘Xeno-archives’, and the in-game translations of ‘Xenoglyphs’. These serve to “uncover the mysteries of this alien civilisation”. Also, littered throughout the world are Scout Audio Logs, which provide “handcrafted storytelling”.
Lastly, is the more intimate scenarios in the game. These involve a mysterious house that Selene finds strangely familiar, described as “atmospheric first-person story sequences where she confronts strange and familiar events inside that you need to piece together”.
So Returnal is not just a sci-fi action thriller and roguelike. We also have a bold, dark cinematic story to tell. It is a mystery to decipher and replay, like our gameplay mechanics come every cycle. For me it’s a story about self-discovery, progress and breaking the cycles we put ourselves in.
Housemarque have previously got into depth on the game’s combat systems, as well as its other various gameplay mechanics.
Returnal will release on April 30 for PS5.