Returnal is a roguelike psychological third-person shooter horror game set in a futuristic science fiction setting. After crash-landing on this shape-shifting world, Selene must search through the barren landscape of an ancient civilization for her escape. Isolated and alone, she finds herself fighting tooth and nail for survival. Again and again, she's defeated - forced to restart her journey every time she dies. Returnal is exclusively available on the PlayStation 5. Take a look at our tips to get help in the game.
In Returnal you will restart your journey whenever you die, you will however lose everything that you have accumulated in the run before. The only exception to this is the time-travelling resource called ether which stays in your inventory when you respawn back at your ship. Ether is a rare resource which has many uses, so it is important that you use what you collected throughout each of the biome's wisely. The options which you have are:
This lets you create a respawn point. This can be particularly useful when you are having a good run.
An Obolite Repository
This enables you to gain more obolite and purchase items that prolong your run. This is especially useful if you want to continue a good run.
In Returnal you will have to deal with the continuous bombardment of projectiles and enemies, so it is essential in order to survive you try not to remain stationary. Returnal has been purposely designed to make you feel confined but here are crooks and crannies throughout the game which you can exploit to create space and distance from enemies. The best strategy for dealing with enemies is to force them to break up their formations by moving around and then pick them off individually one by one.
Before you encounter Phrike, the first boss of Returnal, you need to find the Atropian Blade in the Overgrown Ruins near the Crimson Gateway. It is important that you pick this blade as it allows you to perform powerful melee attacks and also break red barriers. It will not however break orange barriers. The Atropian Blade is a permanent item which stays with you for every run once you have found it.
Scattered throughout Returnal you will find stone gates that have item boxes or resources behind them. In order to open these gates you need to search for a hidden switch which will always be nearby. Once you have found the triangular switch with a yellow light in the center you need to point your gun at it. When you do this the switch will turn red, if you now shoot it the nearby gate will open.
When you begin Returnal you will notice orange lights and floating orbs in the distance of the Overgrown Ruins. At the start of the game there is no way you will be able to climb up to these areas. It won't be until you defeat the second boss in the second biome that you will get the grappling hook which allows you to reach those orange high points.
To get to the second biome, you need to access the Crimson Gate which is accomplished by defeating Phrike, the games first boss. This will enable you to get the Crimson Key, an item that will remain in your inventory regardless of how many times you die. Once you have the Crimson Key you then need to find a portal door that leads to the Crimson Gate, so you can enter into the second biome, the Crimson Wastes.
Providing you have the required amount of ether you can use a special terminal called the Reconstructor to revive Selene when she dies. All Selene has to do when she finds a Reconstructor is climb into this creepy single use device that has an alien/humanoid-shape cut into it and promptly access it.
When you use the Reconstructor Selene will respawn with full health. However, you will lose any malfunctions or parasites Selene had when she first used it. After using the Reconstructor, you will not return to the beginning of the game when you die. Instead, you will return to where you last used a Reconstructor. This makes it useful for getting back in the action when you die as you don't have to reset completely.
It is essential in Returnal that you not only stay on the move, but you keep applying pressure to any hostiles you encounter. This means playing aggressively, taking down anything that gets in your way as quickly as you can. Failing to do this will quickly result in you being overwhelmed by the sheer numbers of enemies and projectiles.
Aiming down the sights of your weapon to fire an accurate shot with projectiles raining all around you is dangerous as it forces you to slow down and be precise. It does however have an advantage you should not ignore, especially when you are tackling boss-like enemies which each tend to have a weak point that can only be pinpointed by aiming down the sights. Targeting these weak spots is the easiest way to stagger these creatures and deal critical damage to quickly defeat them.
In Returnal you start with a dash skill which makes you invincible to attacks when you perform it. Take advantage of this dash skill during the early game when you have been targeted by enemy projectiles by dashing directly into them instead of running away from them. Doing this will also close the gap between you and your attacker and give you the opportunity for a melee kill. Later in the game you will not be able to dash through some attacks safely, these will be denoted by their purple color.
As you explore the different biomes in Returnal you will occasionally come across yellow orbs on the ground near statues and graves. If you walk up to one, the floor beneath you will break away, and you will fall into a secret area. There is no way of knowing what you will find there. It may be a room full of parasite pods, a room full of treasure, or maybe if you are unlucky a tough enemy you need to defeat. It's basically a gamble you can choose to take.
One of the most powerful attacks in Returnal is the permanent melee attack you will be rewarded with once you get far enough into the first biome. This melee attack is lethal, aside from bosses it will take down any enemies you encounter that have half or less health with one slash so make sure you take advantage of it whenever possible. This melee attack will also become more powerful as you pump up your adrenaline level enabling you to dispose of groups of enemies at a time.