Returnal, a Sony PS5 exclusive, officially released on April 30, 2021. It’s been called a “Triple-A roguelite third-person mode shooter,” making it one of the first of its kind. At the time of this writing, Metacritic has given the new shooter from Housemarque an average score of 86, which is a great score for a new IP. Many positive reviews of the Returnal applaud its visceral gameplay, interesting story presentation and beautiful particle effects.
But both IGN and Kotaku have cited major gripes with the game's architecture. Namely, a number of reviewers and gamers claim runs of the game are either too long and/or are ruined by the lack of an auto-save or checkpoint feature.
In Ari Notis’s official Kotaku review of Returnal
, the writer reports
“There is no official way to save and quit out of the game. A run in Returnal can last hours, especially if you’re combing through every room in every biome for as many resources as you can scrounge up. That you can’t save your game and pivot to something else smacks of a design decision from a prior, less accommodating era of gaming. If, for whatever reason, your PS5 turns off, you’re screwed, out potentially hours of carefully earned progress.”
Expanding on that, you can not open up and play a different game on your PS5 if you want to continue your run in Returnal. You can’t take a break and watch something on a media app like Netflix. You are locked into the game. Unexpected blackouts or circuit breaker issues that shut off your PS5 can kill hours that you’ve invested in the game with no way to get them back. So can software malfunctions like the game freezing/crashing.
At least two writers at IGN felt Returnal’s
runs were too long. Reviewer Mitchell Saltzman says
one of these long runs “saps the desire to immediately return and try again after a failure, though not enough to grind it to a halt.” Similarly, IGN’s Brian Altano tweeted
,“I am VERY excited for Returnal
but reading that the average run can last 90+ minutes and there is no way to save midway (aside from Rest Mode) makes me really wish that PS5 had Xbox's Quick Resume feature. I'll work around it, of course, since the game looks awesome! But still.”
So far, Housemarque has not announced any plans to patch in an auto-save feature to the game.
Author’s opinion: I’m not a fan of stress-inducing bullet hell games. They make me rage quit. So I wasn’t planning on trying Returnal
, even though I think it looks amazing. But the fact that you could lose 4 hours of hard-earned progress if the gamer ever crashes, which is something not your fault at all, makes this an easy pass for me. I’m going to wait for Biomutant
Image source: Amazon