Housemarque’s upcoming PS5 sci-fi third person shooter Returnal is looking like their biggest and most unique game yet. Stranded on an alien planet and caught in a never-ending time loop, players will be exploring haunted and mysterious locations in this roguelike shooter as they slowly uncover new pieces of the game’s narrative and its central mystery. And as all of its footage so far and its very premise may have given away, the game has a very strong horror vibe at its core.
In fact, speaking with GamesRadar, game director Harry Kreuger said that scaring the player (or at least unsettling the player) is a core tenet of the game. “Our goal has been to haunt the player. It was important for us to embrace the mystery, and leave many of the secrets of the planet to players to discover themselves,” Kreuger said. “I feel that some of the best stories we experience are the ones we piece together in our minds through implication. In Returnal, we’re conscious to share enough in our world to spark intrigue, but never too much – the more you know, the less you imagine. It’s important to leave enough room for the players’ minds to wander.”
Kreuger went on to say that cosmic horror has been a big inspiration for Housemarque during the development of Returnal, before discussing that in greater detail and talking about how it contrasts with the bright and flashy nature of the in-game action itself.
“Cosmic horror has been a strong inspiration for us, both for our world-building and many of our central philosophical themes as well,” he said. “Our enemies have been largely inspired by deep-sea creatures, and strong bioluminescent highlights will contrast their otherworldly tentacle masses. There are also Lynchian influences, where we aim to blend the surreal with the unsettling – grounded, but with a dream-like ambience. This dark, bleak world is accompanied by our bright and vibrant action to create a high-contrast ‘dark world, bright gameplay’ aesthetic.”
Returnal launches exclusively for the PS5 on March 19. Check out its newest gameplay trailer through here.