Players have been requesting a pause option in Housemarque’s roguelike Returnal since its introduction, as well as a new photo mode.
Returnal’s, a PlayStation 5-exclusive game, has been updated by Housemarque, a newly acquired PlayStation studio. It now includes a long-awaited feature that allows players to halt runs and restart them later. Returnal is a roguelike, which means that when the player dies, they are returned to the beginning of the game. While games like Hades and Dead Cells have similar live-die-repeat gameplay loops, these games featured one feature that the PS5 game lacked: the ability to halt and resume a run at any time.
Returnal players’ inability to pause runs was a big topic at launch, while some didn’t mind the game’s lack of difficulty options as much as the lack of mid-run saves. Although Housemarque was aware of the suspension-related complaints, the developer hinted that it wasn’t sure if enough Returnal players wanted autosaves to address the issue right after release. Players quickly discovered out how to exploit the PS5’s rest mode feature to halt the game. On the other hand, Rest mode was viewed with skepticism because the console feature was notoriously problematic and could potentially brick the entire machine.
Returnal version 2.0 and its adjustments were published on developer Housemarque’s blog, with the most notable change being the addition of a run suspension function. Returnal players can now save their current run even if they move to another PS5 game or turn off their consoles thanks to run bans. However, in a PlayStation Blog article, director Harry Kreuger outlined certain limitations for the new functionality, including the inability to pause runs during first-person segments, cinematics, boss encounters, or “heavy combat.” These limits, according to Krueger, prevent such times in Returnal from being “fragmented,” as returning players to gameplay during certain periods would break the flow of the game.
Because resuming a run deletes the suspension point until a new one is made, Returnal’s run suspension is not treated as a standard save point. Returnal’s “roguelike spirit” will be preserved, according to Kreuger, but players will still be able to play in shorter bursts. It’s unclear whether players will share this sentiment.
Aside from first-person cutscenes, this update adds a photo mode to Returnal, which may be activated at any moment. Different filters can be layered onto images, the camera angle and aperture can be modified, and more, just like in other recent games’ photo modes. Returnal’s photo mode appears to operate well in the eerily stunning landscapes of Atropos, based on Housemarque’s samples.
While this update solves one of the most common criticisms of the PS5 game, it does not change the game’s complexity or the role of RNG in successful Returnal runs. It does, however, signal that Housemarque is paying attention to fan input and isn’t ready to abandon Returnal just yet, so perhaps further quality-of-life improvements are in the works.
Returnal is a PS5 exclusive.