Objectively speaking, the game belongs to the horror genre. You are stuck in a time loop of Hell and not even death can set you free. But the game mechanics themselves are the typical Housemarque game with explosive action, says Eevi Korhonen, a narrative designer at the Finnish game studio who previously made arcade games on a much smaller budget.
Bill Murray is a classic in space
The comeback feature is reminiscent of a bit of a timeline from the classic Bill Murray movie Monday all week, stuck in space and equal parts sci-fi horror, taken from the movie Alien.
If you add in the feel of the game from a challenging old school arcade game, you get the recipe behind the Returnal hybrid genre.
The game revolves around astronaut Selene, who is destroyed on a mysterious planet and soon realizes that she regains the same landing every time she dies.
Death and childbirth are both included in the same story. Celine realizes she is dying, reborn, and interacts with her. She’s really decided to step out of her situation and she’s very determined, and I think that makes guys sympathize with her and really feel like: “Well, I’ll help you with this,” says Evie Korhonen.
Playing Returnal takes nerves of steel. Every time you fail you just have to start over. Plus, all rooms, weapons, and enemies have changed their locations every time you try again.
This type of game-changing episode is called “roguelike” and it has gained increasing fame in the gaming world in recent years.
– You feel like you’re evolving not only in the game, but also in your head as you become more familiar on the planet, says Eevi Korhonen.