Stuck on alien planet. Dying constantly. Being revived to repeat the nightmare all over again…things could be worse, right? Right! Because not only is Housemarque’s game a riff on time loops, it also happens to be Groundhog Day smashed together with Event Horizon judging by the interstellar mental nastiness on display.
Which of course calls for that classic sci-fi trope: Tentacles. Lots and lots of tentacles.
As you’ll see in the latest trailer that is conveniently embedded in this article., Returnal features a number of nightmare fuel monsters that all sport a dizzying array of organic extensions that they’ll use to slap you around the joint. It’s a brilliant design, and one that you’ve never seen before because Housemarque had to create its own proprietary tentacle technology for each monster.
“We ended up creating our own special VFX-driven tentacle tech and used it very liberally,” creative director Harry Krueger explained in a new PS Blog post.
These fully dynamic elements bring that chaotic beauty to the enemies we were after, and also created some really satisfying feedback for players as well. For instance, the bioluminescent emissives on tentacles are strongly highlighted to telegraph oncoming attacks and provide satisfying hit reactions when enemies are shot (or when an enemy is killed, where they blow up in a glorious explosion of severed tentacles).
The strong emissive highlights also connect back to our Bullet Hell attacks, where our projectiles naturally inherit this vibrant “energy signature” from our enemies, to create a cohesive aesthetic that strongly reinforces our gameplay intent as well.
One of the monsters on the planet of Atropos is the Titanops, which has tentacles all sprouting from its arm that can be used for quick whipping attacks, or it can slam you around with a large bone-like protrusion on its other arm. Housemarque made a name for itself with games such as Resogun, Nex Machina, and Matterfall over the years, and after a forgettable venture into battle royale space, Returnal looks like the studio at its best but in a 3D space.
April 30 can’t get here soon enough.
Last Updated: April 15, 2021