Returnal - Return All

Returnal charts at no 2 in the UK & while it was outsold by Pokémon Snap by 3:1, it's still a damn good start for a new IP, that's a rogue lite & has the full £70 price point.

I'm still really enjoying my runs, I got to Phrike yet again & after proclaiming I'd be successful this time, I wasn't. Time for another go.

I’ve made it twice - first time had him down to shreds on phase three. The second time... not as great!

Welp, this game patch is gonna auto-update and wipe out a lot of runs in rest mode, isn’t it? Turn off auto updates, folks!

Returnal Review: A gorgeous, incredible game you should not buy

100% what you expect the article to be. "Lack of a save means you have to devote too much time."

Why Returnal Is Already My Game Of The Year

And a counter point article

WizardM0de wrote:

Welp, this game patch is gonna auto-update and wipe out a lot of runs in rest mode, isn’t it? Turn off auto updates, folks!

I'm hoping this patch has some bug fixes because I had my first game crash last night Thankfully, I was only about 20 minutes into a run.

I played much longer than I was planning last night. Once you start to get a feel for the flow of this game, it's easy to blink and realize three hours have gone by

Spikeout wrote:

Returnal charts at no 2 in the UK & while it was outsold by Pokémon Snap by 3:1, it's still a damn good start for a new IP, that's a rogue lite & has the full £70 price point...

For those of us on the other side of the pond, that's over $97 at the current conversion rates. I'm already being even more picky about what's a release-window buy and what's something I definitely want to play but will wait for a sale, and at current prices if I lived outside the US I suspect just about everything would be wait-for-a-sale.

This game is absolutely haunting me. I keep thinking about it when I'm not playing it. The length of the runs and the rhythm feel so unique and compelling (though a save would DEFINITELY help on that front.)

I think this game has some resistance points (the save stuff being the main one) but I also think that some of the resistance is tied up in Returnal pushing against so many different genre norms and conventions. In the few days since recording the CC I find that I'm liking it more and more.

Some early helpful tips I'll spoiler for folks who want to go in without knowing anything but that I wish I would have known from the jump:

Spoiler:

-The stone cages can be opened by shooting a switch hidden nearby (I ignored them for like twelve runs because I thought I needed an upgrade lol.)
-Strafing is your friend.
-Daily challenges give you ether, and ether carries over between runs. YOU WANT ETHER. There's a specific expenditure of it that is absurdly helpful.
-Embrace any parasite that gives you a chance to keep you expendables.
-You don't have to fight everything, you can sprint past most rooms if need be, in fact for run 2, doing this might be helpful. There's a super useful item near the end of the first level that makes everything easier.

Spoiler regarding "starting over" every run:

Spoiler:

Apparently once you get through three biomes, you click over to starting in the fourth for subsequent runs.

I just finished the 3rd Biome in one sitting... Holy crap that was a long run and got extreme stressful towards the end. The patches has fixed my crashing issues.

FYI, if you downloaded today's update, you might want to wait to play until they issue a new one this evening. The new patch is corrupting save files for some users. Per this tweet:

Housemarque wrote:

Patch 1.3.3 has been pulled and we are reverting back to 1.3.1 until it's fixed.

We are fixing the issue now and a new patch will be published in a few hours

All users affected by the 1.3.3 need to re-download the game.

Our sincerest apologies.

Housemarque wrote:

Q: How do we know we are affected?
A: You'll get the CE-100028-1 error popup.

..Just wait for the next patch coming soon if you're not sure.

Housemarque wrote:

So to be safe, don't start the game before the upcoming patch is available and downloaded.

That's a pretty devastating issue. Hopefully they get it fixed quickly and no one here is affected by it.

New patch is up.

Last night (playing on 1.3.1) I encountered the door bug for the first time - at the very first door! Couldn't even abandon the Helios.

2 back-to-back runs where I took the 1st boss down to less than 1/2 of his last health bar and die... I'm terrible at avoiding that sweep attack he does. Is jumping better than dodging for that?

Also, I need to stop picking up the Blaster just because it has a bigger number than my carbine

Carlbear95 wrote:

2 back-to-back runs where I took the 1st boss down to less than 1/2 of his last health bar and die... I'm terrible at avoiding that sweep attack he does. Is jumping better than dodging for that?

Also, I need to stop picking up the Blaster just because it has a bigger number than my carbine

I jumped to avoid the laser sweep attack as it seemed to work better than dashing although it's probably just that I didn't get the timing down at all.

On that note I ended up beating Phrike the other day, estatic I was. It's tough enough in that last phase with everything just being faster. You've got the added ground purple orbs traveling along the ground, the dash into melee attack (which isn't too bad to read) & the one that got me quite a bit was Phrike dropping the two red beams, both of which expand out into a full circle covering the floor & making their way towards you. The dash melee attack straight after dropping them means when you dodge it's swipe you sometimes land on one of the expanding lasers or mistime your jump & get hit by the second one.

I ended up getting to a boss of sorts in the second biome, I'm not sure if it was the main boss but it was a decent bit in. The creature teleported & took up new positions behind or to the opposite side of you, its ranged attack is fairly fast & it eventually downed me.

I was so intent on trying to find the next major permanent upgrade item, the one that will make traversal hit new heights

Got to the actual boss at the end of Crimson Wastes, brilliantly designed battle. One of the best Housemarque have pulled off. Got to phase 3 & got overwhelmed by the the cream coloured ground orbs steadily coming your way, the blue sound wave looking attacks that are very frequent plus the rows of diagonal blue orbs that Ixiom releases. It's really hard to keep your bearings, dashing forward through these projectiles is a must. Back to the start I go.

The Crimson Wastes feels so different than Overgrown Ruins, not just in aesthetic but design. The enemies are a fair jump up in difficulty too, some are really intimidating.

First boss down! I spent a good 10 minutes running around the first area to make sure I was as optimized as possible for the battle. All that prep was unnecessary because I only got hit twice That felt pretty good.

I found a couple particularly useful artifacts that run, including one that cuts down the resin needed for an upgrade from 3 to 2. I'll be crossing my fingers for that one every time.

The second area is indeed a large departure from the first. I made it a bit beyond the miniboss Spikeout mentioned before quitting for the night.

My goodness Dyno, only hit twice by Phrike, that's some going. Good artifacts can really make a difference, the one I had in last night's run was something like 'for every 200 obolites gain 5% extra damage to your weapon' it was devastating as I had over 1000 obolites.

I think I'm gonna do an early morning run here. I activated the reconstructor in the overgrown ruins (the big alien shaped tomb that Selene steps into, if you have 6 ether) which I had no idea what it even meant. I played for a good bit more thinking something in the area would pop up or has changed but was left clueless after I progressed onto the crimson wastes.

It was frustrating not knowing what the hell the reconstructor had done so looked it up. I'm glad I did, for those who want to know it can come in really handy

Spoiler:

it's essentially a checkpoint that saves your progress once per biome so that when you die you go back to this room with all your collectibles & weapon intact, all the enemies apparently stay dead that you've killed too

The implementation of the haptics in the Dual Sense needs another mention again, they add an extra layer to an already superbly playable, atmospheric game. The feedback from weapon fire, jumping, scanning items, picking up stuff, dashing, swinging your blade & so much more is game changing. It's done so subtly for a lot of the environmental cues too that it's hard to imagine playing without the dual sense. It makes me so excited for Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart next month & other first party titles down the line.

I've attempted Phrike three times now I think, maybe four and have yet to take it down. I've gotten darn close, one run in particular was extremely close but not quite. I'm concerned I may not be able to take it down at all and that getting stalled out for too long will make me lose interest, which would be a shame because overall I am absolutely loving this game.

It'd be nice to have a difficulty level, maybe easier disables trophies or something? I do think the game would benefit from a stronger rogue-lite element of preserving more per run or being able to slowly build towards upgrades between runs or something. At least then more of my grinding would be rewarded. There have been interesting story elements presented even within my continual runs of this first biome but I'm not sure how much longer that hook will keep me going.

The moment to moment is so much fun though maybe I won't care? Getting to the boss is pretty easy now, it's just a matter of if either I'm powered up enough and/or skilled enough to take it down.

The game certainly had its god runs. And/or I'm starting to figure out good strategies for what to pick up immediately, what to hold off on until later, good artifact combos, etc.

It took 5 tries and about 13 total deaths to get past Phrike. Then I died twice in biome 2. And now, I'm standing at boss 3 and I feel just about indestructible.

Dreaded Gazebo wrote:

The moment to moment is so much fun though maybe I won't care? Getting to the boss is pretty easy now, it's just a matter of if either I'm powered up enough and/or skilled enough to take it down.

I think like any "hard" game, when you get frustrated just put it down for a day or two and come back to it. That was definitely my mindset in Sekiro. Sometimes I did well only to die late in a level, other times I would get crushed by the first "regular" enemy I ran into I had just beaten. Of course in that game it was the Final Boss or some of the other mid game bosses.. not the FIRST boss, but I agree the moment to moment is great. I've failed more times than I care to admit, but just yesterday I found a room layout in Biome 1 that I had never seen before which kinda surprised me.

I can consistently get Phrike to stage 3, but I just can't consistently avoid those darn sweep attacks.

What are people's takes on parasites and malignancy? Obviously some are worse than others, but early on are you rolling the dice on malignancy or avoid? On parasites for sure I'll avoid the "delay on dodge/melee extended" I don't care what the benefit is.

Carlbear95 wrote:

What are people's takes on parasites and malignancy? Obviously some are worse than others, but early on are you rolling the dice on malignancy or avoid? On parasites for sure I'll avoid the "delay on dodge/melee extended" I don't care what the benefit is.

Malignancy and malfunctions are really not very bad. In general, the reward you get far outweighs the temporary inconvenience of a malfunction. Most malfunctions are kill enemies, or do melee, or something you'll do anyway. I really hate the map malfunction though....

Parasites, it totally depends. Some are very powerful, particularly the ones that give you bonus weapon proficiency, or pump up repair efficiency, because they make the game a lot easier in the long run. Getting weapon proficiency high early really make a huge difference.

Orphu wrote:

The game certainly had its god runs. And/or I'm starting to figure out good strategies for what to pick up immediately, what to hold off on until later, good artifact combos, etc.

It took 5 tries and about 13 total deaths to get past Phrike. Then I died twice in biome 2. And now, I'm standing at boss 3 and I feel just about indestructible.

So yeah, I totally walked through boss three on my first encounter. I just had a crazy lucky build and ended up with some stacked damage syphon abilities. I basically could not die as long as I kept shooting.

Ixiom has been defeated at the second time of asking, you do really need to keep your concentration as there's a fair bit of bullet hell in certain attacks. Jump is definitely your friend here. I was elated in victory, in this aspect it really does mirror the Soulsbourne sense of gratification & relief. It's not quite as hard as those games but it's a tough cookie & you dread getting so far to start back over again.

I agree with dreaded gazebo about the game could do with a bit more rogue lite elements, it's definitely more rogue like in that the carry over from run to run is only your equipment (blade etc), weapon traits (slug, piercing etc) & the ether you collect. It would be nice to feel more powerful like Hades.

Oh yeah any blueprints you've unlocked of weapons, artifacts etc have a chance to show up in future runs which I recognized from Dead Cells.

I'm so damn chuffed to have gotten the

Spoiler:

grappling hook

which feels super satisfying. The first biome will be a joy to go through now.

The game is great yet still growing on me. The runs can be long but the gameplay is so slick & enjoyable.