Returnal - We Chat with Developer Housemarque About the Ambitious Pl...
In Returnal you crash-land on a strange alien planet, look for answers, die, and repeat the process all over again. A roguelike with impressive art-direction and scope with the added bonus of developer Housemarque's love of intense and rewarding action.
With the game out April 30 for PlayStation 5, our very own bullet hell wordsmith Adam 'Griz' Mathew had the chance to sit down with Narrative Director Gregory Louden and Biz Dev/Marketing Director Mikael Haveri to talk about all things Returnal. From taking advantage of PlayStation 5 hardware and advanced features through to drawing on Greek myth.
AG: Returnal is awash in Greek mythology references. The planet is Atropos (goddess of fate and destiny). We're landing in a Helios craft. Selene works for Astra (the five gods of the wandering stars). And in a flashback moment it's shown that Selene herself has a copy of 'Zeus Abdicated' in a bookshelf. What's the allure of this particular chapter of history?
Gregory: I think the really exciting thing with Returnal is this is our first time doing Housemarque storytelling. We want to do storytelling that is ideally as deep as the gameplay can be and as layered. The goal of Returnal is to create a mysterious and haunting narrative, to create something compelling and memorable. And when I say haunting, I don't mean horror or jump scares -- I mean it sticks with you, raises questions.
Selene is a Greek-American, Astra deep space scout who basically comes to Atropos to find this signal, White Shadow. She is compelled to go here. She's seen her screen say 'Approach Forbidden' – the listing of a hostile alien planet – and she goes there anyway. Like a spell, she's compelled to find out the meaning of this place. We're also aiming to deliver a layered character, someone who's relatable that you can connect with. Someone who isn't purely good or purely bad.
Actually, one other thing I would say about Returnal is the only thing that's human is Selene, her pistol and her ship. The rest is alien -- all the weaponry is alien, all the creatures are alien. So we've got a lot of amazing creature design and enemy design for you to look forward to. And obviously the wild bosses, the bullet patterns and all that stuff as well.
Greek mythology is so rich in storytelling, players can discover more meaning -- if you're willing to chip away and scrape the surface of this story, you will get a lot from Returnal.