The current generation is currently ending, while it has been great we’re already looking on the horizon for the upcoming hardware and their games. A game that caught my eye from the minute it was announced was Housemarque’s latest game, Returnal. From the sneak peek we’ve gotten at the game so far, I believe that it’ll be a special one.
It even recently reached the Marsipan Games desire index (Which will be updated soon)
But why should you be excited? Who is Housemarque? What is Returnal?
Housemarque is the oldest developer of my neighbor country, Finland. Founded in 1995, they’ve grown into a size of around 80 employees in 2020 with many games out on the market.
Most people might recognize them from their amazing arcade-style games, like Dead Nation, Resogun, Alienation, or Matterfall, for a good reason. What Housemarque has accomplished in the arcade genre is nothing short of spectacular.
The example I always resort to is when I got my PS4 at launch, 7 years ago, they singlehandedly saved it with their launch title Resogun – and I’ve been a fan ever since.
It’s also worth noting that Housemarque has a long standing relationship with Sony, and their platform PlayStation, ever since they released exclusive games like Super Stardust (2008) and Dead Nation (2010). Since they’ve done a lot of projects together to various degrees of success.
Sadly, in 2017, the studio CEO, Illari Kuttinen claimed that it was time to move on from arcade-style games. Sadly, while the games were great, too many of them didn’t reach commercial success.
This put the studio in a difficult position, in which they began developing the Battle Royale game Stormdivers. Met with bad reception, the studio’s future didn’t look too good at one point – but at the beginning of 2020, the developers announced that the project had been put on hold and that every member of the dev-team had been put on work for the biggest game in the studio’s history.
That game showed up at the Future of Gaming event in June, announced as a collaboration with Sony once again. Finally, Returnal showed itself to the world, and Housemarque got to show the quality of their dev-team once again.
From what we’ve seen of Returnal so far, we know that the game is a third-person science-fiction shooter, that has a heavy theme of psychological horror. The game also features roguelike elements. It might sound like a lot, but I’d say that it’s a very intriguing mix.
You play as a space pilot (That currently has no name), which is stranded on an alien planet and is stuck in a time loop. Its an interesting premise, that gets better because of the fact that each time you die, the pilot gets resurrected – and the planet seems to be affected each time you die too, which impacts not only the pilot but also the one playing the game.
While I think the premise and setting of the game are great, I once again want to articulate how well made Housemarque’s games are. Resogun is literally one of my favorite experiences on the PS4, to this day. And for those of you who feel the same as me, and feel sad about Returnal not being an arcade game – fear not.
Returnal’s combat seems to take inspiration from almost every Housemarque game I’ve played. From Dead Nation and Alienation’s bullet hell mechanics to the fluid feeling of playing Resogun to the amazing stage hazards and environments in Matterfall – Housemarque seems to have created a game that uses all of their previous experiences.
And how cool isn’t the title, Returnal? Basically, a game in which you’re eternally trying to return, I think the title is one of the coolest titles in recent memory.
While we’re waiting for the game to launch in 2021, I recommend everyone to play Housemarque’s previous titles. I played some Alienation yesterday, and the game is as excellent as I recall.
If you feel like the Playstation 5 launch is on the weak side, I can recommend Resogun as a launch title via backward compatibility. It saved my PS4 launch, and I’m sure it’ll save any launch because it’s an amazing game from beginning to end.