Returnal is a new third-person roguelike shooter for the PlayStation 5 that's part Metroidvania and part psychological horror wrapped in bullet-hell fueled action. It's an intense, beautiful, and disturbing title, as well as a difficult one. Players play as Selene Vassos, who has found herself stranded on Atropos, a constantly shifting alien planet where death is a never-ending cycle.
Returnal is difficult, but with some of our help, you and Selene will be able to conquer the procedurally generated world of the game. Remember — death is not the end. Here's are a few tips and tricks for Returnal.
Returnal tips and tricks Always keep moving
This one is obvious, but it's the most important. Don't stop moving when you're in combat. A moving target is always harder to hit than a stationary one. The action in Returnal is fast-paced — if you're not familiar with arcade shoot-em-ups, you might find yourself overwhelmed by bullets sooner rather than later. Strafing left and right and jumping when appropriate will keep you one step ahead of your enemy, and sometimes that step is what will keep you alive.
Returnal tips and tricks Adjust the options
Returnal is a difficult game, but it's not inaccessible. There are a couple of options to take advantage of if you're having trouble keeping up with the action. There is a color blind mode, as well as the ability to adjust the brightness to whatever works best for you. There are two options that I'd like to highlight, and that's toggle sprint and aim assist.
By default, you must press down the left stick to run, but you can change that in the options to either have toggle or have it on permanently. I kept it on all the time, and it worked perfectly for me, so adjust according to your playstyle.
Aim assist is also set to medium by default. While it's a pretty forgiving aim assist as is, if you really need some help hitting your targets, you can crank it up to high. Now it's almost like you have a homing gun.
Returnal tips and tricks Find Silphium Resin early
Throughout Returnal, you'll come across a health resource called Silphium Resin. Now, this resin is important because it is vital to improving your health. If you collect three pieces of Silphium Resin, your integrity will go up slightly. The first and fourth biome are both great for collecting this resin, and if you can, you should collect as much as you can, as early as you can.
There is also spoiled and malignant resin that has the potential to damage you or cause critical malfunctions to your spacesuit. You can cleanse them with Ether or take a chance and grab the infected goods.
Returnal tips and tricks Upgrade your blade to take down yellow doors
Early in the game, you'll encounter red shields that block doors and protect enemies. To handle them, you'll have to slash them open with the melee weapon you find in the first biome. However, occasionally you'll find a yellow door. To handle these doors, you'll need to find an artifact called the Blade Balancer. After you've found it the first time, you'll often find it in the first or fourth biome at the Fabricator station.
Returnal tips and tricks Purple and red lasers are bad news
Returnal is a bullet hell, so if you've played any of Housemarque's previous games, you'll feel at home here. All of the bullets are colored, so you can easily identify the direction they're heading and the severity. There are two lasers that have tripped me up the most, and it's the red laser and the purple laser.
Both of these are worth nothing because they're especially deadly. The red laser passes through objects, but you can still dash through them. The purple laser, however, cannot be dashed through. If you see these lasers during your run, make sure you avoid them.
Returnal tips and tricks Grab the Child's Watch and the Astronaut
Returnal is relentless and difficult, and even with all the health in the game, one wrong move could spell disaster for your run. Thankfully, there are two personal items that are unlocked by completing the House segments of the game. The House can be found in the first and fourth biome.
The Astronaut figure will bring you back to life with full health after you die, while the Child's Watch will bring you back with half of your health. You can have both at one time, but you can not have more than one at once. The game also automatically uses the Child Watch first, which is a nice touch. There's also a Parasite that'll allow you to survive a killing blow, but you'll suffer two malfunctions right after.
Returnal tips and tricks Get up close and personal
The sword Selene finds is actually pretty handy. In addition to being able to cut down vines and break the shields of enemies, it's actually quite powerful and can take out smaller enemies and turrets in one hit. This is especially useful if you find yourself with a less than ideal weapon.
Returnal tips and tricks Dashing and grappling makes you invulnerable
Selene's dash can be used for more than just getting out of the way. Selene can dash through bullets and lasers when they get too close. She cannot dash through purple laser, so you'll jump over them and avoid them normally. In addition to dashing, using the grappling hook also makes you invulnerable. Use these tactics if you need to get away from enemies fast.
Returnal tips and tricks Look out for secret rooms
Returnal has a fair share of secret rooms tucked away in every biome. They're marked by the bundle of sparkling Obolite, and once you fall through, you'll be taken to a room with goodies...most of the time. Sometimes you'll get locked in a room with an extremely tough enemy. When that happens, you might be better off running.
Returnal tips and tricks Get used to dying
Returnal is a difficult game, and you'll die a lot. Don't expect to breeze through the game on your first, second, or twentieth playthrough. But each run, you get a little better. You improve your weapons skill, or you find a better way to handle an enemy. Maybe you'll add an item or artifact to your databank. Get used to dying fast as you'll be doing it often, and just think of each cycle as another step towards your goal.
Break the cycle
Returnal is a roguelike like no other. The challenging gameplay of Returnal is mesmerizing and will hook you immediately. It makes exceptional use of the DualSense Controller and looks and performs incredibly well, thanks to the power of the system. The game is breathtaking in more ways than one and one of the best games on the PS5.
Abandon all hope, ye who enter here
Guide Selene through the mysterious planet of Atropos and break the cycle she's trapped in.
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