Suit up again
For many, Returnal kind of came and went. Despite some of the hang-ups I had with the launch build, I stuck with it, and it was definitely worth my time. The PC edition not only benefits from a few PC-exclusive graphical tweaks, but the hindsight of fan-demanded features amid the PS5 version’s patches. In other words, this sci-fi rogue is still worth playing.
Returnal PC version options
Let’s touch on what the PC version offers first. While PS5 cross-play is notably missing, there’s support for Ultrawide at 21:9 and Super Ultrawide at 32:9 resolution settings, a DualSense control option, AMD FSR, and Nvidia DLSS. Graphically, it’s roughly inline with what Sony has offered in the past. Those hindsight additions I mentioned earlier? The big one is the “Suspend Cycle,” which thankfully lets players actually save the game (yeah, it was a whole thing). Then there’s the photo mode (which, again, was not in the launch version), as well as co-op support, and the Tower of Sisyphus challenge area.
It’s a lot, and Returnal PC heavily benefits from it (alongside of visual and mechanical fixes from prior patches). Despite clearing the original, it was almost like revisiting a new game. The intro is short and sweet, and gets you in the thick of things in 15 minutes or less. From there you’re going on run after run, trying out new strategies, choosing whether or not to play around with the game’s “malfunction” risk/reward system, and getting a little bit closer to the end.
The curse-like nature of malfunctions (where you get a benefit in exchange for a debuff) is brilliant, as you can cure said curse by completing a mini-objective. It’s a small conceit, but it’s extremely clever, especially as someone who typically avoids permanent curses in rougelike/roguelite games. It immediately fueled me into clearing the first zone right away, like I never really stopped playing the PS5 version.
One of the best parts of Returnal is how much choice you have in terms of interacting with so many facets of it. The story is presented in an interesting, cryptic way, but you can also mostly ignore it and just blast some aliens. Alternatively, you can pour over every detail, lore log, and environmental nuance if you want to engage with it on that front. It’s an incredibly atmospheric game, and maintains much of its uniqueness several years after launch.
I’m glad that Housemarque kept iterating with Returnal, addressed some concerns, and generally just lifted up the game after launch. If you’ve been putting off Returnal, congrats! Now is probably the time to give it a go, especially since the Steam version is launching day one at a $10 cheaper price point compared to the original PS5 debut.