Returnal shows Housemarque hasn't forgotten its shmup roots


Bullet Hail

When Housemarque first announced that it simply felt it had no choice but to leave the shmup scene behind, the Finnish developer's fans were understandably a little disappointed, fearing that the developer would lose its unique style among a suffocating market of third-and-first person shooters. But with the studio's upcoming PS5 release Returnal, it seems that Housemarque is working hard to find a comfortable middle-ground.

As demonstrated in its new "Hostiles" trailer, Housemarque is attempting to blend its colorful, visually splendid aesthetic with a more conventionally popular third-person action approach, while also maintaining the twitchy, pulse-pounding bullet-hell action of the studio's former releases, such as Super Stardust HD, Resogun, and Nex Machina.

While I'd love to have seen Housemarque continue its twin-stick ways, the studio's survival simply required that it step away from its comfort zone and toward mainstream genre gaming at large. This is why it's heartening, at the very least, to see the studio work hard to maintain its unique visual signature, pushing to stand out with a recognizable style - in both visuals and gameplay - as it attempts to break into the cookie-cutter world of AAA gaming.

In recent ventures around the hellscape that is social media, I've seen complaints that Returnal is becoming over-saturated - and that perhaps Housemarque and publisher Sony Interactive are pushing the interstellar roguelike a little too hard. While the latter's recent "impressions" piece - essentially a review of its own fucking game should be rightly mocked, I can't help but empathize with Housemarque's desire to get noticed via its torrent of recent trailers and developer diaries.

I absolutely agree that you can over-market a title, (take note, Atlus), but I also feel that unproven brands have no choice but to over-promote, given that the AAA market is now so heavily weighted toward known IPs, popular franchises, remakes, and sequels. Out there in the proverbial high street, if your game's cover doesn't say "Call of Duty," "Resident Evil," or "Super Mario," then you're already fighting an uphill battle to score those important "mainstream" sales, the only ones major publishers will point to as a sign of success. For Housemarque, it's vital that Returnal pierces the zeitgeist in this dry period of next-gen releases - or we can all look forward to the possibility of it being assigned "remake duty."

Returnal launches April 30, exclusively on PS5

You are logged out. Login | Sign up


Chris Moyse
Chris MoyseSenior Editor   gamer profile

Chris has been playing video games since video games began... still terrible at them. Former Saturday Night Slam Master, rambles nostalgically like Abe Simpson. I ain't here to fight, so let's no... more + disclosures



Also on Destructoid: Returnal   (7)   From our database:

  • Returnal devs warn about run-disrupting PS5 auto-updates ahead of incoming patch - Jordan Devore
  • New Pokemon Snap beats out Returnal in this week's UK Charts - Chris Moyse
  • Review: Returnal - Chris Carter
  • Housemarque says it hears the calls for better saving in Returnal - Jordan Devore
  • Returnal shows Housemarque hasn't forgotten its shmup roots - Chris Moyse
  • Can Selene stop the clock in Housemarque's Returnal? - Chris Moyse
  • I'm hoping Returnal gives me a reason to truly love the PS5 - Chris Moyse
  • Housemarque's Returnal pushed back to April 30 - Chris Moyse
  • Returnal's deep, explosive arsenal will help Selene stop the clock - Chris Moyse
  • More related stories
    Filed under... #adventure #Horror #housemarque #next gen #PS5 #Release Date #roguelike #Sci-fi #Trailers #video #YouTube



    You're not expected to always agree, but do please keep cool and never make it personal. Report harassment, spam, and hate speech to our community team. Also, on the right side of a comment you can flag nasty comments anonymously (we ban users dishing bad karma). For everything else, contact us!