Returnal (PC) Review

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returnal pc review 23021302 10
Editors Choice

With its arrival on PC, Returnal pushes the envelope in delivering a fast and frenetic roguelike experience onto a brand-new platform due in no small part to a mostly excellent port, one which takes full advantage of more capable hardware. Unfortunately, at least during my time with the game, Returnal on PC suffers from an inconsistent start-up, where the game will fail to load and instead display a black screen, which restarting seems to alleviate.

Additionally, from my testing, some of the house sequences in the game, which happen in between biomes or levels, are broken. An example occurs after defeating Phrike and returning to the first biome on a new run. Typically, as the player, Selene can now enter the house for some exposition sequences. Instead of letting the player exit the house and continue on with their run, the game tends to go into a glitched state in which the controls become unresponsive, forcing a restart to continue, which unfortunately also means losing your progress.

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Thankfully, these sequences are optional and can be skipped entirely, thus allowing the game to be played until this issue is addressed. Outside of the two aforementioned bugs, Housemarque has done an excellent job porting Returnal to the PC.

This includes native DualSense support (at least, on Steam) as well as a host of upscaling options, graphical setting tweaks, and of course, well-implemented keyboard and mouse support. This feature, when paired with arguably Returnal’s best feature on PC, the ability to push past 60FPS, Housemarque’s latest iteration truly comes to life on the computer.

“With its arrival on PC, Returnal pushes the envelope…”

For those with capable GPUs, Returnal on PC also features raytracing, which, although subtle, adds a new depth of detail to Atropos, particularly in slick or wet surfaces like puddles or pools, which now accurately reflect the scene around it. I found the performance cost to be minor, at least on my rig using a 7900XTX at 1440p with FSR enabled, and I could comfortably play the game at around 90fps.

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It remains to be seen how well Returnal will scale on less powerful hardware, particularly in regards to slower SSDs, but even with my WD_Black SN770 1TB drive, which despite falling under spec for use on the PlayStation 5, seems to handle the game just fine. I noticed minor stutters when loading in new areas, which may be more of an asset streaming issue related to the cache than the SSD itself.

If you’ve never played Returnal or prefer gaming on the PC, Selene’s Greek-tragedy-inspired sci-fi romp continues the trend of excellent PC ports and is a must-play for fans of the roguelike genre.

Final Thoughts

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