Returnal’s central premise of being stranded on a mysterious and horrifying alien planet and stuck in a time loop sounds like the perfect framework for a compelling roguelike title, but like all games in the genre, the upcoming PS5 exclusive will have some challenges ahead of it. One of those, of course, will be progression, and the balance the game will strike between actual skill-based progress and things that will depend on chance, owing to the game’s randomized nature.
Game director Harry Krueger recently spoke about this with GamesRadar, and it’s clear that this is something developer Housemarque has given plenty of thought to. According to Krueger, from unlocking new areas to discovering new items to uncovering new bits and pieces of the narrative, Returnal will put a consistent emphasis on progression. He says that though some things will, of course, be left up to chance, the thing that will affect more than anything else is skill and mastery of the game’s systems.
“You’ll gain access to previously inaccessible areas, discover new items and secrets, piece together new parts for our story, and gain new advantages in combat,” Kreuger said. “Multiple weapons and items will also become unlocked as you discover them in the world. Ultimately, though, the biggest resource that will carry over between sessions is the player’s skill. Mastering our systems and techniques and learning the secrets of Atropos will give you an advantage in subsequent runs. The random nature of the game means that some things will always be dictated by luck, but there will always be room to improve and overcome the challenges of Returnal through player skill alone.”
Returnal releases exclusively for the PS5 on March 19.