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Analysis

Marvel’s Avengers- Heroic campaign with multiplayer grind

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Players reported that after the June update, Marvel's Avengers started displaying their IP addresses

There has been some confusion around Marvel’s Avengers for a long time: What kind of game should Crystal Dynamics’ superhero project be now? How will the co-op gameplay work? And does a loot system even make sense for the Avengers? The past beta weekends have already answered a few of these questions. The whole picture is now available in the full version, which owners of the deluxe edition have been able to play since September 1st.

Basically, Marvel’s Avengers consists of two quite different components: a classic single-player campaign that is completely story-based, and a multiplayer part that is reminiscent of Games as a Service title like Destiny or Anthem. In this review, we’ll discuss both elements separately – simply because they are so different.

Everything about the campaign: More story than expected

It was known that Marvel’s Avengers will also have a pure single-player part, but it is surprising how extensive and elaborate the story is actually staged. With almost 15 hours of playtime, we are offered a full campaign that could also have stood on its own. It’s much more than just a brief history introduction or a rough transition to online mode.

In the 16 big story missions, we are not only introduced to the six playable heroes one by one. We mainly learn more about the villain MODOK (abbreviation for “Mental Organism Designed Only to Kill”) and his tech-savvy fascists from AIM (Advanced Idea Mechanics), but also about the many conflicts that simmer within the Avengers group. More than just wrestling the supervillains, Marvel’s Avengers is about the reunion of Iron Man, Hulk, and Co.

Reunion because we’re entering the darkest point in Avengers history. A new scientific achievement is to be presented to the people of San Francisco during A-Day, a kind of holiday in the spirit of superheroes. Suddenly the city is under attack and the Avengers fail to prevent the worst.

The hero’s famous helicarrier crashes and kills many people, including Captain America himself. This destroys the ship’s main reactor, which is fired by a Terrigen crystal, and releases Terrigen nebula – a substance that turns certain people into mutants called “Inhumans”.

After this event, public opinion turns and the Avengers are blamed for what happened. The team falls apart, falls apart and ultimately goes into hiding. In the five years that followed, the aforementioned AIM organization came to the fore, which only continued to stir up hatred of the Avengers and also suppressed the Inhumans. This is where Kamala Khan steps in.

Lovable heroes

Even if the story of Marvel’s Avengers actually, well, revolves around all Avengers, with Kamala Khan we get a real protagonist and identification figure at our side. The teenager is not only a gigantic fan of Captain America and Co., as an affected Inhuman, she also gains superhero powers herself. Now it is up to her and her rubbery extremities to track down the members of the Avengers and to convince them to fight together again for the good cause.

Kamala leads through the story very well because as an outsider (and fangirl) she can easily provide the player’s perspective. She finds her own chemistry for every Avenger and it is easy to take her to the heart. But the rest of the troupe and even the antagonists are all interestingly staged and I was invested in the story right up to the end and wanted to know exactly how the characters will continue.

The developers at Crystal Dynamics take their time for the campaign and give us the opportunity to get to know each hero in a series of dedicated missions. Until the end, the focus remains on Kamala and her understanding of what it means to be an Inhuman and to have the feeling of belonging. Marvel’s Avengers campaign is surprisingly human and even if there are of course many big action spectacles spread over the season, there are also often calm and touching moments.

Good missions vs. bad missions

When it comes to campaign gameplay, Marvel’s Avengers doesn’t always strike the right note. The different story missions consist either of separate campaign missions, which do not even exist in the multiplayer part, and the warzone missions, which we already know from the beta. The qualitative difference between these parts of the campaign is noticeable and unfortunately not that small.

The pure story missions offer linear level sections that are built solely for the campaign and its dramaturgy. Most likely, Marvel’s Avengers is reminiscent of big action adventures like Uncharted 4 or the younger Tomb Raider parts. This is where the signature of the developer Crystal Dynamics can be seen most clearly. The gameplay shifts from exploration to platforming, from casual conversations to smaller fights, and from cutscenes to boss encounters.

The campaign offers a lot of variety in these moments and often looks like a stand-alone game that is included with the rest of Marvel’s Avengers. But when it’s your turn to go to a Warzone mission, the direction changes suddenly. Here we get a foretaste of the multiplayer part, which for the most part only consists of fights. The story is barely advanced and it is just a matter of completing the primary objective while fending off the relatively uniform robot army of AIM.

Combat system with one-stop action

And unfortunately, it’s the battles in Marvel’s Avengers where the game runs out of air the fastest. The impression from the beta is also confirmed in the finished game. Although each of the six heroes has ten different talent trees, some of which also unlock new attacks, most of the battles escalate into monotonous melee combo happenings. The takedowns, which can impressively eliminate dazed opponents, are nice to look at, but are repeated far too often.

The fact that the fights in the game almost always feel the same is underlined by the six playable heroes themselves. For example, despite their different abilities, Black Widow doesn’t play much differently from Hulk. Light attack combos are followed by heavy attacks here and there when shields need to be broken, and even in long-range combat, there’s not that much of a difference between Thor’s hammer throw or Kamala’s rubber fist.

A spark of uniqueness comes into play solely through the movement of the heroes. While Iron Man and Thor fly through the air, Kamala and Black Widow can swing through the area. As soon as it comes to a fight, however, it only plays a subordinate role and in the hectic chaos of action, the crowd of opponents is mostly blindly thrashed.

While special abilities like Iron Man’s laser-from-the-chest beam are also individual, long cooldown times mean that the standard attacks make all the difference. In the campaign missions, however, the battles are only one element of many, and it is easier to accept a lack of variety. In the rest of the game, on the other hand, the question quickly arises as to how long-term the action-packed, albeit quite monotonous, battles can really motivate, especially in multiplayer.

Loot, level and more

In terms of character progression, the campaign already offers everything that makes up the core of the multiplayer missions. In addition to the classic levels, which the heroes reach by collecting experience points and thus unlocking skill points for the talent trees, there is the much more important power level. Similar to the Gear Score of The Division 2, we increase the general equipment value by finding and creating new loot items.

However, these mechanics are hardly really decisive for the campaign. The loot with the highest level is created, the rest is scrapped in favor of resources and when there are enough of them, the equipment is upgraded. Since we are constantly changing the heroes in the course of the story anyway and the missions increase in difficulty rather gently, these points can largely be ignored.

However, the problems behind it quickly become clear in the multiplayer part. You can find out more about this in our separate assessment, which goes into more detail on the Games as a Service mechanics and examines Marvel’s Avengers for long-term gaming fun.

You have to be four Avengers

The multiplayer part of Marvel’s Avengers works very differently than the classic story campaign. If you select the menu item “Avengers Initiative” at the beginning of the game, you will even jump to the end of the main story and get a brief outline of what is happening in the story. But the story is really only marginally now.

The only important thing here are the co-op operations that we can complete with up to three other players or three more of our own AI heroes. The process is always the same: we switch between five different regions of the world and our Avengers Helicarrier, which also serves as the hub world, via the operations table (which we also activate in the campaign). There are then several mission types to choose from in each of these regions.

Multiplayer kit for beginners

However, although there are a number of different types of online missions, mission structures are repetitive. Real differences between the missions can be found more in terms of scope and story components. Most often you will be in the so-called Warzones, which were already playable in the beta. Warzones are spacious areas that can be explored freely and offer both optional and mandatory mission objectives.

Sometimes we have to protect shield agents, sometimes we have to break into an AIM system, but always compete against the not exactly varied robot army. Above all, however, with regard to the optional targets, which are displayed as question marks in the area, it quickly becomes clear how much recycled content is in Marvel’s Avengers. Repetition is the order of the day here.

Every now and then there are locked buildings that can only be opened using pressure plates or activation points. These must first be found before the reward behind the door starts. Ultimately, however, there are only three or four ways in which these points are hidden in the game world. So if you have played a handful of missions that take up about 25 minutes in the largest variant, everything will look familiar to you very quickly.

Wait a minute, haven’t I been here before?

The fact that the missions feel interchangeable is reinforced by the modular character of the level design. Each region has a specific climate zone and a number of mostly AIM-typical buildings. The latter are mixed up a bit per mission and equipped with other opponents, and the new mission is finished. Often there were even several (different) missions in a row during the test in which I had to explore exactly the same areas.

The villain sectors and the shield bunkers, which offer a boss fight or a kind of horde mode, provide a bit of variety. But here, too, the handful of bosses from the campaign are warmed up and combined with waves of opponents that also offer no surprises. In the “iconic mission series”, which tell little stories about a certain hero, nothing new happens in a playful way, but at least there are a few story snippets to get hold of.

Where the pacing was still right in the campaign and battles with story and exploration alternated, 90 percent of the multiplayer missions are fought in almost identical environments. If you want to keep your motivation here permanently, you have to concentrate on building and improving your heroes.

More moves, more fun

The character progression in Marvel’s Avengers is not tied to a main character, but is distributed among all six heroes (available for launch). Each Avenger has its own hero level, which fills up with the accumulation of experience points. There are – very classic – for defeating opponents and completing missions. Depending on who you prefer to play, you’ll have a level 50 Thor and a Level 6 Hulk on the team.

For every level up there are skill points that can be invested in twelve different talent trees. Here new melee and ranged combat combos can be unlocked or existing skills can be improved, for example over a longer duration of the effect of buffs. As a result, the heroes’ available move set grows over time, which actually makes the fights more interesting later in the game.

Much more important than the hero level is the power level, which describes the overall strength of the superhero. Similar to the power level from Destiny 2, the power level is made up of the individual power levels of the findable loot items that opponents drop or end up in our inventory as mission rewards. Unfortunately, the loot system is anything but interesting.

Loot without feeling

In my beta conclusion, I already described the loot system as unsatisfactory, unfortunately, nothing has changed in the finished game. The fact remains that the equipment remains almost invisible beyond its power level. Attributes such as power, bravery or ability are also improved, but their meaning is difficult to understand and in the end everything ends up in large statistics pools such as close combat rating, defense rating & Co.

The better the items, the stronger the hero. But that’s about it, because a difference cannot be seen or felt when we exchange objects that have been put on. This is not least due to the partly abstract character of the loot, which often remains unclear what it is supposed to represent. With Hulk there is just one “component” that shows his chest as a picture. So what should I expect from this gear?

In the game itself, however, there is quite a lot of loot to be found, always in the usual rarity levels. Collecting and investing still has a bit of charm, but the great satisfaction of finally having received a legendary weapon or epic armor is completely absent. This is also because the loot has no influence on the appearance of our Avenger superstars.

Superhero fashion show with waiting time

Anyone who wants to individualize Kamala, Iron Man and Co. is completely dependent on ready-made skins that are collected from the comic history of the Marvel heroes. The outfits can be unlocked in a variety of ways. Sometimes there is a skin for leveling up, sometimes we can have the “patterns” found analyzed in the hub area and thus make new, cosmetic items available. Most of the time, you can get the most out of the Battle Pass-style challenge cards. Each hero has his own of these and we can bag rewards depending on the level we have completed.

However, progress only works by completing daily and weekly challenges that require specific activities. Overall, it takes quite a long time to progress on the challenge map, which is a bit of a hassle. It is faster via the dealers in the game who also sell outfits. But despite the end of the campaign and intensive excursions into the multiplayer part, I still don’t have the money for a single, legendary skin.

There are also microtransactions in Marvel’s Avengers. Via the marketplace, we can buy special outfits, emotes or name tags (a kind of decoration for the hero profile) with credits. Credits are Marvel’s Avengers’ premium currency that can only be purchased with real money. So it all remains cosmetic. In view of the tedious work of getting cool skins the normal way, the monetization intention is still very important.

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Analysis

Shin Megami Tensei III Nocturne HD Remaster, analysis

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Shin Megami Tensei III Nocturne HD Remaster, analysis

We analyze the high-definition version of a cult game that comes to PS4 and Nintendo Switch.

Despite being a great unknown for a long time, Atlus has already engraved her name in gold letters in the history of video games. Their biggest barrier was leaving Japan, due to the Japanese spirit of their games and how difficult it is to transmit certain themes to Western markets. In fact, one of the main milestones was the original launch of the game at hand, Shin Megami Tensei III: Nocturne, which was presented as a contact with the western market to see how it could respond to the great role-playing works. that were being developed on the Japanese island. Although without much fanfare, the reception was good enough that the company was encouraged to continue launching its works.

Since then, the company has not stopped growing thanks to the great successes it has accumulated, especially thanks to the fact that the developer herself matured enough to offer better and better works, which was fed back with the increasing depth of her titles in the market, starting with the entire Persona franchise and its ramifications and continuing with titles such as 13 Sentinels, Catherine, Dragon’s Crown, Odin Sphere, the Etrian Odyssey franchise, Tokyo Mirage Sessions, the Devil Survivor… It is within this more promising panorama that Atlus has taken the opportunity to recover some of his previous works, as happened with some revisions for 3DS, but the strongest bet is, without a doubt, to recover Shin Megami Tensei: Nocturne.

On its original 2005 release, the game concealed the numerical delivery in question as it was the first game in the franchise to reach the West, so an attempt was made to avoid confusion for the user; however, after the launch of the fourth installment and with the fifth chapter about to hit the market, the full title of Shin Megami Tensei III: Nocturne has been chosen. In fact, it was already at the time an improved version of the original Japanese game, which in the Japanese market would be launched with the title of Shin Megami Tensei III: Nocturne Maniax. Therefore, this remastered version uses the best possible version of the original game as a base and, incidentally, becomes an excellent opportunity for as many people as possible to enjoy it, since, although it was originally released only for PlayStation 2, this remastering will come to PlayStation 4, Nintendo Switch and PC.

A bespoke apocalypse

The entire Shin Megami Tensei franchise (and many of its ramifications) revolves around a basic concept that is repeated from one installment to another: the devastation of Tokyo due to an eternal conflict between good and evil, with the main protagonist of each chapter as a link that should help tip the balance to one side or the other. Such is the argument also of Nocturne, where we are caught in the middle of the said apocalypse with the extra of having become a half-demon. The story is set today (albeit on an undefined date) and revolves around the idea that the world must be destroyed before it can be reborn.

Our objective will be to understand why we have undergone this transformation and to understand the role we play in all this, since the end of the game that we will obtain (out of the 6 possible) will depend on our actions, in such a way that this rebirth or, In other words, the life or death of the city of Tokyo itself will be in our hands. It is a fairly deep trap that, within its somewhat psychotropic future setting, presents us with countless theological and moral debates within the tone of darkness and the general gravity of the production (although that does not mean that there are not certain touches of humor black).

The most interesting thing about the game’s plot is, precisely, the ability that we will have to influence the events of the game through a much more complex moral system than the traditional one, in such a way that not everything is black or white. That is to say, when we choose an answer when talking with the other characters (friends or enemies), this answer will not inexorably mark the relationship we will have with them, but rather that will be defined by the vital philosophy that we transmitted throughout of the whole game. This means that not everything depends on an answer (although some may weigh more than others), but we will have to create a defined character throughout the entire story to shape our personality through the millions of shades of gray that exist. (same as in the real world). In this way, our interaction with the world and the end of the story that we will see will be determined.

The game system

Nocturne is divided between two very basic plans: the city map (which is very basic and not very detailed) and the dungeons that we will go through. Although the general map is a little exploited and gives the feeling that it could give more of itself, it is in the dungeons where the game shines. It was the first time that Atlus abandoned the first-person view in his role-playing games and the truth is that the change was great for his works. Despite being linear (with a labyrinthine shape to complicate things a bit), all of them will have their own spirit beyond the visual, with elements such as investments of the environment, areas in which to memorize patterns to move forward, and so on.

As for the fighting, it is fair to recognize that this game system was groundbreaking at the time for the franchise, although today there are already more refined formulas. In fact, outside of the franchise itself, already at the time, you could see how some role-playing games from other companies were betting on such fun dynamics as Shadow Hearts, whose combat system, despite being in turns, forced us to be aware at all times. At Nocture we have a fairly basic system with a series of basic options to choose from; however, beyond the initial simplicity, the truth is that it has a lot of depth in things like trying to take advantage of the weaknesses of the enemies to obtain additional actions and have an advantage in combat, something that will be essential in the higher difficulty modes.

This system would be refined in later Atlus games and would reach its zenith in Tokyo Mirage Sessions and Persona 5, so this version seems, of course, a bit more dated. But the fighting is not limited only to this. Another peculiarity is that our team is made up of demons that we are recruiting throughout our adventure. But, unlike games like PokémonIt is not about capturing them, but about negotiating with them. It is a whole negotiation minigame in which there will be someone who asks for a couple of objects, who does not ask for anything, and who wants to see what members we have in the team, the morality that we show in our decisions, or other factors of the most diverse. Therefore, sometimes it will be impossible for us to get the creature we want if our path is far from what is expected.

The creatures evolve by reaching different levels, although there will also be a fairly elaborate fusion system, which is another hallmark of the Atlus games. Another particular element of Nocturne is the magatamas, some special orbs with the essence of elements, demons, or various entities that are consumed to give the character certain bonuses and weaknesses, depending on the magatama used. These orbs can be obtained in shops, by defeating enemies or being hidden in certain locations. The type of magatama used will also determine the skills when leveling up and, therefore, you can play with them to define the evolution of your character, as well as alternate between them to take advantage of the advantages they provide us when facing certain enemies.

The interesting thing about the magatama system is, above all, that it constantly forces us to choose what we want to prioritize, since you cannot equip everything and, therefore, you cannot have a super-powerful character that can handle everything, so So we will have to sacrifice things. In general, it is a varied game system but that becomes repetitive over the hours, since its tactical depth shines the first time we face each type of enemy, but in successive combats, it is limited to repetition. of strategies that work.

Technical section and news

Beyond the fact that on an artistic level the game is a delight, it is undeniable that the graphics are still very close to what is the level of PlayStation 2. This does not mean that they have not done real virguerías at a technical level, from the visual cleaning so that everything looks sharper and more defined to the improvement of the camera, going through more fluid animations for the characters. However, it is not possible to completely hide the passage of the years, especially in the polygons of characters and settings, in the lighting, or in the design of some environments (large and with few details). The soundtrack, yes, is spectacular and sounds better than ever. The work of Shoji Meguro, Kenichi Tsuchiya, and Toshiko TaakiIt is very varied, managing to be epic in certain moments, terrifying in others, and even with songs more typical of j-pop or waiting room melodies.

As we mentioned before, it is the Nocture Maniax version, the most complete of the game that includes new scenes, additional dungeons, new power-ups, and ending not present in the basic game and the presence of Dante, which he repeats in this remastering. Further to that, this remastered version includes easier Godly gameplay; the game is quite complex, so having a wide range of difficulties for all types of players is very satisfying. Also included is the option to change Dante to Raidou (something typical of the Maniax Chronicle Edition version and which will be available here in the Maniax downloadable content), voices in Japanese or English, and subtitles in several languages.

CONCLUSION

Shin Megami Tensei III: Nocturne continues to be a great game thanks to its great dark and deep history and its elaborate decision-making system that keeps an eye on our actions at all times. It is true that it is still a game with more than 15 years behind it and that many of its mechanics and approaches seem outdated, but it continues to work quite well and continues to be a satisfactory experience. Perhaps a remake would have suited him better than a simple remastering, but that does not mean that we are facing the best possible version to enjoy a classic of the role that at the time went more unnoticed than it deserved, except among the most enthusiastic of the genre. . Definitely a great aperitif before the arrival of the highly anticipated Shin Megami Tensei V.

The Best

  • Its argument and its various endings
  • The artistic style
  • The spectacular soundtrack
  • Strategic combat
  • Have various difficulty options

Worst

  • The years weigh on him
  • The fighting is very abundant and becomes repetitive over time.
  • The overview map could be used more

Very good 8.9/10

A game with a remarkable finish that we will enjoy and remember. A good buy, highly recommended for lovers of the genre. It is well cared for at all levels.

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Analysis

Returnal, tips for getting started

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Returnal, tips for getting started

Returnal is the latest roguelike shooter made exclusively on PS5 and made by Housemarque, available starting April 30th.

As this is a new next-gen title , we are sure that many of you will want to try to start the adventure in the best way, especially considering the procedural nature of the title.

For this reason we have thought of several useful tips to start your adventure, suitable for all those who are about to venture into biomes for the first time.

These tips are part of our Returnal guide , which we suggest you consult to find out all the details about the game.

Take your time

As we have already highlighted several times, Returnal is a procedural title: consequently, every time you regenerate the world will be different from how you remembered it.

Therefore, it is extremely important to calmly traverse the game’s different biomes, even if you have already faced certain areas in the past.

In this regard, it is very important not to take shortcuts and slowly explore the whole biome: this will allow you not only to easily level up, but also to earn a lot of money.

Discovering all areas of the biome will therefore provide you with a greater chance of survival within this difficult world.

Collect the oboliths
As in any self-respecting video game, special currencies are also available on Returnal that will perform the function of money .

These are the obolites , which it is absolutely essential to look for and collect whenever you have the opportunity.

You can get them by killing enemies and inside sarcophagi , which we remember are also procedurally generated ones.

The obolites are essential because we will be able to spend them in the Constructors, which are locations where it is possible to create consumables: at the beginning, we will have only one slot available but, as we advance in the game, we will be able to have 3 different spaces.

Accumulate as much Aether as possible

Don’t forget to explore the optional rooms as well – sometimes, if you’re lucky, you may find rare small spheres called aether.

There are no checkpoints available in this game, but having Aether at your disposal will allow you to use one anyway, but only once: by spending 6 units of Aether, you can start from a certain point only once, after being dead.

Keep an eye on your health

Our health bar will have available, in addition to the classic green bar that indicates how much life we ​​have, additional bars that indicate our level of resin, which occupies an additional slot compared to our health.

If the silphium is therefore able to regenerate our health, the resin will take care of putting these cleats back in order, which can help us or give us malus.

In fact, the resin could be malignant and cause failures , like almost all the elements of the game, so taking it always represents a risk.

Increase weapon proficiency

Focus on increasing the skill level of equipped weapons as much as possible – this will allow you to inflict much more damage.

Each weapon of Returnal will have a level cap of competence available , so the important thing is to try to get as close as possible to that number, taking into account that there are also parasites able to give us a hand.

Don’t get hit

It may seem like a foregone tip in a game where never dying is paramount, but really try not to get hit by your enemies.

As soon as you have inflicted a certain number of hits, you will in fact accumulate adrenaline , which will allow you to get random buffs that will only decay when you are injured.

Keep in mind that there are also consumables that can make you start from the maximum level of adrenaline and give you a consistent advantage in battle.

Fight as much as possible

In order to always have the best materials available and level up, there is only one particularly useful solution: keep fighting as much as possible.

Facing strong enemies in particular will give you access to the best drops in the game, so try never to skip any firefights and in a few minutes you will become strong and fearsome.

Never stop

Try not to focus on a simple objective, but keep moving even during the fights.

If possible, try not to waste time aiming at your target, but shoot blindly so that you can always keep an eye on everything around you with the camera.

This reasoning also applies to enemy drops: don’t stop to inspect them if the play area is still dangerous, but wait until you’ve cleared the area well.

Finally, try to immediately identify possible escape routes , should the action become more dangerous than you may have anticipated.

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Analysis

Returnal Review: Resogun in Dark Souls

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Returnal Review: Resogun in Dark Souls

Finnish studio Housemarque has been going for too long to their big project, for years dealing with simple arcades and top-down action games. The long-awaited Returnal for PlayStation 5 , sponsored by Sony Interactive Entertainment , not only plays on the fashionable roguelite field, but also swings into a large sci-fi canvas with intricate plot and action-packed.

In the center of the story is a member of the “ASTRA” unit, the cosmonaut Selena, in distress on the unfamiliar planet Atropos. Here, in the depths of the constantly changing configuration of the labyrinth, there is a mysterious source of the signal, better known as the “White Shadow”. But besides the wrecked ship and the inability to send a request for help, Selena is faced with another oddity – in the vastness of a hostile world, dead copies of herself are lying everywhere. It turns out that she can not only leave Atropos but also die. Following the mechanics of death and rebirth familiar to fans of the genre, the developers propose to find out the fate of a lost civilization, go through five biomes and finally get out of this endless cycle. The plot is served through cutscenes and audio diaries – it is very interesting to follow the story,

On the one hand, Returnal follows the beaten path of the Dark Souls series , while on the other, it offers its own findings and solutions. Similar to games from FromSoftwareyou collect valuable resources from killed enemies, in this case, they are duped, which can be exchanged for important items in the fabricators scattered around the map. Also, at the levels in special places or after the death of strong opponents, you will find improvements and new weapons. True, the game immediately limits the looting excitement, offering in the first hours for use only one active type of weapon, one special single-action item and a laser sword. Moreover, things available for use can range from a first aid kit to quick teleportation and a protective barrier. At locations, you come across special rooms where you need to pick up a healing sylph or other valuable elements, dodging traps and lasers. Weapons in the game range from pistols to melee shotguns and are classified according to your skill level. If your skill level has become one, then the next chest will have a +1 weapon. If you used an artifact and reached the 5th skill class, then all new weapons will already be of the 5th class, although this effect does not apply to the already collected one.

As the story progresses and the exploration of new areas, you will unlock additional improvements and abilities, but if the heroine dies and a new cycle begins, they, along with all the collected fools, will disappear – with the exception of plot items such as a sword or house key, as well as ether units. In Returnal, Housemarque uses mechanics and ideas from its arcade projects. Of course, the found sword, teleportation tool, or pistol does not need to be collected after each new revival, but all amplifiers and bonus effects, such as damage multipliers, parasites that strengthen armor, or a weapon class, are reset to zero. In this case, the game can be saved only after resetting the cycle, and if you just pause it and a power surge occurs, then all your progress will be lost. Moreover,

Since the configuration of the map changes when you start the cycle again, you will have to start over each next exploration. Of course, you can use the teleporters open along the way and return to the recovery chamber if you are lucky enough to get it in this level configuration, but in most cases, you can only restore health with rare first aid kits with sylph, a randomly found regeneration parasite, or by buying a large first aid kit in the fabricator. Returning to the ship and sleeping in bed will change nothing but the passage of time.

Although the levels in Returnal are randomly formed from pre-rendered rooms along with random items and artifacts, some of the rooms do not change. This is an archive with alien information, a zone of transfer to another part of the map, some locations-bridges, as well as numerous rooms with fabricators and caches. While researching, you can open bonus doors with secrets and powerful weapons by collecting the required keys. But not all of the things you find are useful. For example, an alien regenerator, instead of restoring health, can eat half a strip of life, and an alien parasite will not only strengthen the spacesuit, but also make it more fragile. And this is not to mention the cursed objects that need to be cleaned – otherwise they are capable of imposing restrictions on you with varying probability.

Notable disadvantages include the fact that all this knowledge and understanding of the world around you comes during the game only thanks to personal experience and tests. Also, a model of random generation of levels should be written down as disadvantages, in which in one case you can get a lot of bonuses, and on another call – first-aid kits crowded in one room or sometimes teleporters located a couple of meters from each other, while the next one can be found only after a dozen rooms. The same applies to enemies – in the early stages and in narrow spaces, there are sometimes too many of them.

A lot in the world of Returnal depends on the most ordinary luck. If you managed to meet a parasite that partially regenerates health, strengthens your spacesuit, gets various bonuses and get hold of a spare first-aid kit, bonus life, and at the same time greatly improves your skills and weapon power, then you can easily overcome even several strong bosses in a row. But the game is also capable of throwing strong opponents at you and leaving them with a starting pistol or imposing negative effects on Selena, and then you will die for many hours in the first locations – simply because this is how the random die fell.

And yet, Returnal is a highly addictive game. More precisely, as such, it may seem to hardcore players. Even after a few losses, you want to quickly return to the atmospheric alien fields of Atropos and try to break through to the desired point again and again – this is a huge plus. However, it should be understood that not everyone will experience such feelings since the brainchild of Housemarque also deserves the title of a very difficult and exhausting adventure. We would not be surprised if it turns out that more than 2/3 of buyers will not be able to complete even the first biome. Each is distinguished by enemies, architecture, surroundings, bosses, and difficulty levels. The developers have rolled out a kind of Resogun in the Dark Souls format.

The combat system involves the use of the main fire mode and a special one, which requires reloading. When using the main weapon, it can overheat, and the adrenaline level increases damage. But once you take damage, the adrenaline will drop to zero. You can also jump, and a few hours after the start of the game, you can melee with a sword.

Opponents attack with bunches of energy, from which you can often dodge or hide behind cover. But with each new biome, the level of their aggression and sophistication of attacks grows. Mini-bosses know how to teleport and do serious melee damage. All this again reminds of the arcade action games Housemarque and the first NieR.

Naturally, the path to victory involves the active use of dodges and side artifacts, such as shields and armor. Almost all levels have cliffs and bottomless chasms, but, fortunately, in the event of a fall, you are revived on a solid surface with a slight loss of health. Full-fledged bosses have three health bars, and fights with them resemble bullet-hell-shooters. A hurricane flies to Selena from spheres and laser beams, from which you need to dodge in time and successfully or just run away.

Bright and rich graphics have always been one of the main features of Housemarque products. And Returnal is no exception here. Flashes of teleporters, explosions from falling grenades, and neon rays of alien attacks, together with the effects of DualSense, create an indescribable atmosphere. Part of the environment, like statues and pillars, collapses, disintegrating into small grains of fragments. The controller uniquely reacts to drops of falling rain, the roar of monsters, and even the usual fall of Selena from a great height. Returnal is also one of the few games that are best played with the Pulse 3D headphones. In any case, the difference in sound quality from the soundbar, ordinary headphones, and Sony’s solution is more than noticeable here.

Returnal is a daring sci-fi adventure where the plot and the dynamically created world complement each other well, and the dangerous alien universe is perfectly recreated using Sony technologies, including the DualSense controller and Pulse 3D headphones. Of course, the inability to restore your health at safe points, which are not there as such, numerous crashes on the menu, missing experience and equipment after death and sometimes dishonest situations can make you mad, but the plot is about an ancient civilization and an atmosphere filled with adrenaline and unusual opponents the alien environment is clearly worth it.

Rating: 8/10

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