Returnal is a great game with an ambitious storyline, albeit quite odd in places. You will definitely remember these contradictions in the narrative.
Housemarque’s game is one of the first major exclusives to be released for the newest PlayStation console and has resonated with its unique and sophisticated design. Horror and fast-paced action are some of the highlights of this roguelike release. Intense battles and terrifying enemies are sure to make players shudder as they play through this unearthly title.
Despite the fact that in roguelike games the narrative fades into the background, there are still moments in Returnal that do not make much sense. While on Atropos, players are likely to have questions about many aspects of the game, from the protagonist’s questionable decisions to eerie level design.
Selena collects all the alien technology she finds
If someone were on an alien planet, what would they think of first? Food and shelter? Not at all if this person is Selena. This ASTRA researcher is determined to inspect and retrieve every weapon she comes across. She even straps an alien katana to her thigh once she finds it. And while it’s easy to see why Selena picks up a weapon, it’s a little weird that she ties the aliens’ gadgets to the suit that keeps her alive.
What led to the collapse of Atropos?
When Selena arrives at Atropos, life on the planet is gone. All that remains are machines and technology that are still functional. We know for sure that the inhabitants of this planet were much more advanced than humanity. They even encountered the same death loops as Selena. How did they break free? Why did they stop reincarnating? There are no answers to these questions.
Lack of a save system
Let’s digress from the plot for a moment. One of the things that doesn’t make sense in Returnal’s design is the lack of a save system. Returnal is a long game. Passing half a dozen biomes of the game is not an easy task, and the only checkpoint is at the end of Biome 3. Dying right before this moment or turning off the game will return everything to the beginning. Even if the bosses are defeated, players will still have to look for the gate to the next map, fighting off enemies.
Those who want to pause the game and come back later are out of luck. This is a huge problem for a new game that often crashes and requires updates that reset progress for those players who do not have automatic updates turned off. Housemarque needs to remedy the situation as soon as possible.
Selena willingly attaches parasites to herself
Grabbing an alien weapon to protect yourself isn’t surprising, but letting parasites cling to your suit is a little weird. During her journey, Selena catches parasites and attaches them to her suit. Each has a gift and a poison.
Even if some of them enhance her combat abilities, letting them pair up with the suit is a bad idea. The suit is necessary for Selena to survive on Atropos, and parasites can easily break its integrity.
Selena’s obsession with Atropos
When you are wrecked on an alien planet, your first thoughts are likely to be about finding a way to leave it. Selena is a kind of anomaly, she spends more time exploring Atropos and the strange ruins scattered across its surface. Over time, her curiosity develops into obsession.
She is more concerned about the civilization of Atropos than about her own survival. Some of her past reincarnations have left audio accounts of the people of this world with no regard for her own safety at all.
Selena cannot remember any of her past lives
Death is undoubtedly a traumatic experience that affects the psyche. It’s strange that Selena can’t remember when and where she died. The only explanation for this, besides the fact that she lost her mind, is that she died more times than she can count.
Given the endless cycle of rebirth, it is possible that she suppressed the trauma she had experienced. When the game starts, she finds her own corpse and is surprised by it, making the players think that she does not remember anything, which once again confirms this hypothesis.
Traveling through Atropos, Selena finds several columns with alien inscriptions. To decrypt them, she needs several cipher keys that she can find all over the planet. Why did an extraterrestrial civilization scattered across Atropos codes to unravel its language?
Did they foresee their imminent decline? This is the only logical explanation, but the text on each column hints that those who wrote these messages were not sane.
Cannons giant eyes
One of the few intelligent structures left from Atropos is the watchtowers. Built into these pillars are giant eyes that attack any outsider that comes into their field of vision. It’s frustrating that the only remaining life form is a hostile watchtower trying to kill Selena at every turn.
Were these towers created by the inhabitants of Atropos, or were they also a life form? Unfortunately, they don’t seem friendly enough to stop and chat with Selena, so it’s unlikely they’ll share these secrets.
Another indicator of the high level of development of the inhabitants of Atropos is their gate technology. They had portals that allowed them to instantly move around the planet. Selena uses these devices to travel across different biomes after defeating bosses. The fact that this technology looks relatively intact and functions flawlessly, despite the fact that its creators appear to be long dead, is puzzling.
What are Ooblites?
To purchase upgrades on Atropos, Selena must collect Ooblites and use them to create artifacts and resources. But what are these strange materials? All that is known about them is that the inhabitants of Atropos used them as fuel and that they can be found everywhere. Hopefully Selena will solve this mystery before she goes crazy on Atropos, but this is highly unlikely given the way things are going.