The build-up to Returnal has been gaining a lot of momentum over the last few weeks. Gamers who are starved of dedicated PS5 games are jumping at the chance to finally play a new Sony exclusive that takes advantage of the Dualsense and pushes the hardware beyond the half baked patches that are being released for PS4 games. There has been absolutely no hiding that this game is a roguelike but I can’t help but feel all the positive reviews from critics are setting this game up for a major storm.
Game critics must be objective when writing reviews, at least to a point. If someone has to review a racing game and is not a huge fan of the genre, they cant give the game a 2/10 because they didn’t like it. When looking at a game more objectively, Returnal ticks so many progressive boxes for games that are coming out of PlayStation studios. It is completely breaking away from the mould of single-player adventure games, not that there is anything wrong with the exclusives Sony have been pushing out.
People Don’t Always Read the Details
It is a simple fact of the online world. People are going to look at videos, see review scores and immediately fall in love with this game without knowing what a roguelike is. Roguelike games are always challenging and Returnal is a difficult game because of this. People are most definitely going to buy this game expecting it to be God of War in space and be bitterly disappointed.
Anyone who buys a game without reading the details only has themselves to blame when the game does not live up to the expectations they have fabricated in their head. This is the first branch of people who are going to be upset that this game is not as good as the critics say before proceeding to claim that all of the websites that review games are being paid by Sony.
Returnal Is Harder Than You Might Expect
The second group are people who have played Demon’s Souls, Bloodborne and some of the other well known difficult games. These people are expecting a challenge but this game has guns, so your epic COD skills will allow you to sail through this game. A lot of gamers are going to overestimate their abilities to play a difficult game and may not be all that familiar with a roguelike.
Returnal will beat you down a lot and does not give you anything that will make your life a little easier. You have to pick yourself out of the dirt every time and try again with nothing about the game working in your favour. This is not going to be something that makes people happy. I say this because It is exactly how I felt when I was playing the game to write my Returnal review.
This game is just punishing at times and after a very long run, you get so much done, are kicking ass and then get wiped for something so silly that you just want to throw the controller through the screen.
The Price Tag Is a Bit Steep
If this was God of War, you might say allow a hike above the standard price but this is an unknown IP. The price tag is very high. Due to the complete lack of new games being released for the PS5 right now, people are going to be a little more likely to buy this game and hope for the best, despite knowing it’s going to be difficult.
A few hours in and there is going to be a bitter feeling overpaying so much money to play a game that is a lot of fun at times, but also incredibly stressful. Some people love this feeling and others do not.
There Is No Way To Save
This is the main critique that we are seeing across most reviews. The levels are long, the time it takes to get to a boss is quite long. There is no way to save progress and pick up where you left off later on. The PS5 suspend feature does help here but it has its flaws and many people are reporting progress being reset.
The time commitment and the frustration when that time is wasted is going to tick people off, just like it annoyed reviewers. This is another aspect that is most definitely going to turn people against this game.
Critics are Excited About The Genre Change
From reading a lot of content published by major websites, it is clear that a lot of journalists out there are happy that Sony and Housemarque have taken a risk with the genre. Sony is kicking ass with single-player story games and while this is great, Returnal shows they are willing to experiment. A lot of the praise is coming from the fact that this game is something fresh and new.
Fresh and new is great for gaming journalists who make a living playing lot of video games. For regular people who work full time and get a few hours a week to play games, Returnal might look attractive as being the “next big thing”. The average gamer may not share the same appreciation for the direction this game has gone when compared to the lineup of PlayStation exclusives. While I definitely agree that this is a fantastic direction for exclusives to be going, I cant see everyone being on board with this sentiment.