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Returnal hands-on preview: A PS5 exclusive worth the hype

I’ve played only the first few hours of Returnal, but it’s already one of the most daring PS5 exclusives out there. This sci-fi action/adventure game may look like a traditional third-person shooter, but it’s not. Returnal is a roguelike, sharing more DNA with FTL: Faster Than Light or The Binding of Isaac than with Mass Effect or Gears of War. For years, fans of the difficult, unpredictable genre have wondered what a big-budget, 3D version of a roguelike might look like. Returnal provides an answer — and it looks good.

For those who haven’t followed PS5 news extensively, Returnal was one of the first big exclusives that Sony announced for the system last year. It stars a woman named Selene, whose ship crash-lands on a hostile alien planet. There, she must rebuild her inventory and equip herself with odd alien gadgetry to survive the deadly flora and fauna. But every time Selene dies, she returns to her spaceship empty-handed — and the environment has changed radically around her. It’s an eerie, action-packed story about life, death and space exploration.

Sony sent Tom’s Guide an early review copy of Returnal, and we’re slowly working our way through it. (Emphasis on “slowly” — this game does not pull any punches in terms of difficulty.) While our full review will be ready next week, for the moment, we can discuss the game’s early stages, including the general flow of gameplay and Returnal’s unique storytelling style.

(Image credit: Sony)

Life and death on a hostile planet

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