There was a time when Housemarque’s future looked uncertain. Having designed some of PlayStation’s most memorable games, disappointing Nex Machina sales prompted the studio to declare #ArcadeIsDead. You may recall, the Finnish team turned its attention to Battle Royale title Stormdivers, but it was quietly pitching Returnal to publishers behind-the-scenes.
Co-founder Ilari Kuittinen has explained in a blog post that the developer never gave up on its “deep commitment to fast-twitch action gameplay”, but needed to figure out a way to translate its trademark “arcade 2D gameplay expertise into a third-person action game”. It’s taken several years of iteration, but the end-result is its sci-fi PlayStation 5 exclusive, which we just awarded a 9/10.
And Sony, a company that’s been criticised in the media recently for its purported disinterest in publishing left-field projects, had a big hand in Returnal’s release: “In the age when game publishers are taking less and less creative risks, we are truly thankful to our publishing partner Sony, who has given us an opportunity to work on something very risky and has given fantastic support during the whole project,” Kuittinen beamed. “We are forever grateful for having this opportunity.”
We’re thankful Sony took the chance, too, as the roguelike is one of the best games available on PS5 right now, with our review concluding: “The game is a force to be reckoned with; the breathless combat, super slick gameplay, and the subtle but unsettling story combine for an experience of surprising scale.”
Come on Sony. Make the partnership official
Could this game worked with out it being a Rouge lite stile game ? Every thing about this game looks cool and give me a huge dead space vibe but the idea that it's an arcade shooter is the only thing that's putting me off . I'm just curious if they had just stuck to the story they wrote would the game have worked just as well .
Yeah Sony need to just buy housemarque at this point.
Despite internet gossip, Sony really does take a lot of risk in the games it publishes. In hindsight it's easy to claim that games like Ghost of Tsushima, Horizon, Astro-bot, Death Stranding, etc. were all safe, but before they were released they felt like a gamble. I think the way they minimize risk is focusing on quality. They also seem to practice inter-team collaboration, which helps fix weak areas.
@Otherbarry I wish it would have just been a 3rd person shooter instead of the rogue game. Reading that you need an hour to two hours of playtime to make progress since there is no save option is a major letdown for me as that kind of time isn’t really doable for me frequently.
Looks like money well spent already by Sony!
I actually enjoyed Nex Machina a lot even though I sucked balls at it lol
@nessisonett Returnally grateful.
@FatalBubbles I have the same issue waited till today to see the reviews and the Rogue like structure and the 2 hour cycle really is making me jump on board quite hard. But it’s ok sometimes a game is not meant for us
@Otherbarry I haven't played it, but the answer is likely no. If Returnal was just a linear, play it once story game as released it would be a game that only took a few hours to beat. Housemarque is not a huge AAA dev, they don't have the manpower to build a game that long. This is likely why it made sense to adapt their gameplay chops to a game with procedural generation and a rogue-lite structure.
I guess what I don't understand is why the 'arcade shooter' label turns everyone off? All that really means is you need to have good reflexes. I don't see why people who enjoy Doom or Vanquish or other fast-paced shooters wouldn't be interested.
I love that this game actually ended up being good. Will pick this up as soon as I can (budget provides).
@KippDynamite correct. Its easy to look at the success of Ghost and Horizon and forget how risky those games were. It would have been so easy for Sony to just look at Guerilla and Sucker Punch and tell them to get on with the next Killzone, and InFamous games. The fact that both suceeded means Sony are much more likely to take risks and gambles in the future. I bet the Last of Us felt like a gamble too when that was greenlit off the back of the Uncharted Franchise
@KippDynamite yeah for sure... It mean it is their ethos to be fair, always been known for that. Despite all the talk they probably want more authentic unique experiences, they have a lot of support internally too that’s why many developers prefer playstation to develop on due to their freedom.
Why did it take Returnal to suddenly convince people that Sony does in fact support Creative Freedom, Indies & AA Games? ESPECIALLY the utterly stupid narrative about Indies & AA Games, that one honestly never made sense to me. People criticized the PS4 for being the 'IndieStation' from 2013 - 2015, and suddenly at the end of gen; Indies & AA Games are the Be-All End-All, yet the PS5 Games Showcase was criticized for having a heavy-focus on Indies & AA Games, damned if you do, damned if you don't.
Did they not get the memo? Sony is only interested in blockbusters and guaranteed successes. Jason Schrier said so!
I hope this is the best selling Housemarque game ever and I hope Sony finally buys them by the end of this year. With all of the good reviews I've seen for this game already, it seems like a No-Brainer and it would be great to have Housemarque permanently under the Playstation Studios brand.
Housemarque deserves the backing after all these years and the amazing and creative games that they have done, so come on Sony lol.
One of the most common through lines I’ve read from developers working with Sony has been how much creative freedom they’re given, how much support is provided and how great Sony is to work with overall. Sure, don’t bite the hand that feeds you, but it’s a common enough sentiment that I’m inclined to believe it. It stands to reason that the crop of games being published by PlayStation Studios, however similar they’re perceived to be, are simply the type of games these studios wish to develop...not exactly a corporate conspiracy.
Every AAA games is risky, especially new ip and rogue-lite like returnal. I'm glad sony is trusting housemarque with AAA arcade-like gameplay like returnal 😃
@Otherbarry “the idea that it’s an arcade shooter is putting me off”
Housemarque make arcade shooters. That’s their specialty and what they want to make, so it probably wouldn’t be as good otherwise.
Housemarque should make a fast paced zombie game similar to returnal.good job on sony .word up son
@RubyCarbuncle Its a masochist game but its bloody fantastic i do not agree with you that it sucks. Its a game that makes me feel bad im not better at it. 😅
@JustPlainLoco Its quite simple people always like to complain just like some people calling MS a underdog its so insane. Plus the ridiculous bull from this site that complete games are not worth €70. Returnal is €70 and you are done no seasonpass/gold edition/microtransaction in sight.
Bluepoint and Housemarque gave us demon souls and returnal respectively. Without them, only Miles and Ratchet (maybe Horizon if it makes it) would be the only 2 games we played this 1st ps5 year.
They are crucial sony. Especially when you're going to get less output in comparison starting in about 2-3 years.
@JustPlainLoco Honestly. They should leave second and third party to do the risky games. Their own first party studios should be making gangbusters.
@RudeAnimat0r see i wonder if thats true in regards to them just being a smaller team. Sure they may not have the same budget as some of the bigger studios but thats not a reason they couldn't evolve or want to try something different. Look at Gorilla games . They went from making FPS games to one of the best action rpgs to date . I do get they are a bigger studio with more money but still they stepped out side there comfort zone and it paid off.
don't get me wrong I'm not poo pooing the game or the studio for there style or choice of game. They make really good arcade games and I really like there other stuff I was just curious if they removed the typical hooks that they usely use in there games if they could have made a let's say a third person horror game.
Regarding the Arcade title turning people off i think that's more of a sociological thing. The name usely implies cheep smaller games ,hell even call of duty which is always full price is widely considered arcady and isn't look at as seriously when compared to other big showers . So if a game gets labeled arcady I feel it's a buzz word that hinders more then helps . Which shouldn't be the case .
Thats just my opinion though
@Rob_230 Some studios just don’t want to be acquired. Sure it provides a financial blanket but you give up your creative freedom in the process. So far this longstanding partnership has been fruitful for Sony and maybe one day they’ll come around like Insomniac.
Every news article makes me want to support this game more and more from day 1. I just know I am going to be so bad at it, on top of everything else.
I play for the story, characters and explorartion - but overcoming bruttal challenges and memorizing split second arcade timing is not my thing anymore. Even less when I have no clear way to save
@ztpayne7 i should clarify I don't dislike arcade shooters I just have to be in the mood for them . I'm just more curious because the production and everything about this game looks so ***** cool that i guess it's more surprising they chose to keep with there more traditional style of game instead of seeing if it would have worked as something else.
If I'm being totally honest I loved dead space 1 and when I first saw the trailer I was getting alot of the same vibes so when I saw that the game was going in a different direction I was a bit disappointed. All that aside I'm probably going to pick this up anyway I was just curious how the game could have felt if it was more story based
I wonder if a sequel gets made, what the name will be...
Returnalturnal I hope.
Just pre-ordered on the back of the 9/10 push (squaring) me over.
@Otherbarry Housemarque has 80 staffers, Guerilla has well over 250 and is a fully funded Sony first-party, so it's both manpower and budget. I think it's a poor comparison, even the first Killzone was still a huuuuge game. Returnal really is an evolution for the studio. It may keep their signature gameplay hook, but it's their first fully 3D game.
Maybe with a big 3D game behind them we'll see them experiment outside of their comfort zone more, but I for one would be bummed. No one else makes the games they make. It was sad enough after Max Machina bombed that they declared #arcadeisdead.
Another shot fired at Jason Chrieier 😃
@KippDynamite I agree, you can almost predict with full certainty, that a Sony release is going to be published at a peerless standard of quality. They very rarely drop the ball in that regard. Making every release something to take note of.
#ArcadeIsDead came after Matterfall had a terrible launch. Glad to see Returnal getting good reviews, even though it's not my thing.
@Agramonte I’m 42 mate and just platted god of war on hard. Working through sekiro just now. I bet you are better than you think you are with practice.
OMG Sony go and buy these fellas. They need you and you need them. They have talent which is somethink you can just buy elsewhere. When you see one, do what you can to have it on your side.
@Orpheus79V This it work of the old guard, Layden is gone now, so no more risky stuff. Just 3rd person sad dad games.
When will we stop listening to the internet. I remember some insider on twitter saying Halo Infinite was definitely going to "win" E3 if it was shown. Ppl don't know squat and true journalism is dying.
@RudeAnimat0r I do get interims of team size its not an apple to apple comparison , The point I was more or less trying to convey is I don't think the size of the team or budget should be the deciding factor on choosing to evolve.
this team is pretty talented, that much is aperient I mean just for the little bit I've seen of the trailers is super enticing .
Now lets say your some one who isn't in the know and you just stumbled across this game from a commercial or what ever, visually and tonally its very easy to think this game isn't a rouge lite.
we of course know it is because we frequent these sites we listen to podcasts we know the studio. but if you were able to produce something that looks and feels like something else how much harder would it have been to change the game from rouge lite to survival horror (I'm just suggesting survival horror because that's how it looks to me)
for the record I'm not trolling you or trying to start an argument I'm just enjoying the conversation. and I do share the same thought that not every game needs to be the same its cool we can get a high end arcade shooter .
@Otherbarry didn't think you were!
For sure, I agree some players may be disappointed when they buy the game and find out 1. it's hard AF and 2. it's not a linear progression game, like a survival horror game. Hopefully Sony's marketing has been good enough to educate players about what they're buying - although admittedly Returnal is not a game that seems to be easily explained.
@RudeAnimat0r you are right about that ,this game is definitely difficult to market to the casual audience for lack of a better term. I wonder if they are just going to let positive reviews and the fact that there is a very small pool of ps5 games to choose from to do most of the heavy lifting regarding sales .
@KippDynamite The only thing that wasn't risky about DS was Kojima's name.
@KayOL77 Going to rent it first - if I can survive enough to make it enjoyable I can always keep it.
The no save thing seems a bit over the top for me
Sony needs to put a ring on the fingers of Sumo Digital, Bluepoint Games, Quantic Dream, and Housemarque. Jim Ryan, do you hear me?!
@Otherbarry Well to be fair at one point they were making a Battle Royale game which is out of their comfort zone.
@pharos_haven lol your not wrong .
@Revengercm - I would argue most of Sony's First-Party games are risky, Ghost of Tsushima was brand new ground for Sucker Punch and the amount of work that went into it was clearly more than any of their prior games, Sony Bend Studio hadn't made a console game since the PS1 days, so Days Gone was pretty risky especially with it being a Zombie which (For whatever reason) people were growing tired of the Zombie game genre, Santa Monica Studios took a HUGE gamble with reinventing Kratos for God of War (2018), Guerrilla Games also took a huge risk with Horizon Zero Dawn especially since all their previous games were nowhere near as succesful as HZD turned out to be. Though I see your point, I think Sony's First-Party Studios take plenty of risk.
@TheCollector316 - And Ember Lab (Kena: Bridge of Spirits) & maybe Other Ocean Interactive (Medievil Remake), buy Bluepoint & Housemarque should be TOP PRIORITY, and I guess Sumo Digital wouldn't be a bad choice, but Quantic Dreams ain't happening, not with Tencent investing in them.
I've put so much time into Nex Machina that I can practically play it start to finish on the highest difficulty without any deaths. And I am merely okay at most games. Also I only got it for 1/4 it's usual price
I agree with Bluepoint and Housemarque, but Sumo is not a good fit.
1) Sumo is an enormous studio. Bluepoint and Housemarque are less than 100 employees. Sumo is close to 800.
2) Sumo has made plenty games for Microsoft and other publishers. Acquiring Sumo would just be exclusionary without any clear benefits.
Sony needs to buy these guys, not because every studio needs to be bought, but they have made their best games with Sony and Sony's funding will help propel them to the next level. This game is amazing, it plays like a dream and is just so fantastic. Sony should have bought them years ago. All this is of course contingent on them wanting to be acquired obviously.
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