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Play OverviewPlay Overview

Returnal (2021) is a sci-fi shooting game played in repeating rounds that slowly change the world and your character. You are a pilot stranded on a mysterious planet and must investigate and fight through the world to both survive and solve the repeating problem.

Memories of home slip away and the call to take arms grows stronger. With third-person shooting and investigating (both your memories and the alien world), the challenge becomes as much a psychological drama as shooter.

"Over and over, I've relived my first moments on this alien planet. The crash, the attack, my death." But each time it's slightly different, so although trapped there's a puzzle to solve about how to escape the cycle.

It make’s excellent use of the PS5’s DualSense controller and its adaptive trigger buttons to switch instinctively between firing modes. Go straight from aiming down sights to your gun’s alternative fire. Haptic feedback extends immersion of in-game actions big and small – while exploring fragments of Selene’s memories, or when firing visceral alien weapons. The new consoles immersive 3D audio also brings the alien world to life around the player, helping players navigate the intense positional combat.

Our examiner, Andy Robertson, first checked Returnal 3 years ago. It was re-examined by Jo Robertson and updated 9 months ago.
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Play StylePlay Style

This is an Action and Shooting game with Collecting, Narrative and Traversal elements. This is a single-player game. You can find a dead body from a previous loop in the world, these sometimes provide audio logs, but they also show you the deaths of other Returnal players via a projection of their final moments. You can then choose to loot the body or avenge their death by hunting down the creature that killed then for a reward of some valuable Ether.

You can play this game in the following styles:


Play Time: This game will take between 12 hours and 15 hours to complete. Although, because of the nature of the game’s looping runs, this will vary considerably. It's worth noting that a single run can take up to 3 hours and you can't pause or save mid run. Note: An update to the game enables you to suspend a run and return later.

Age RatingsAge Ratings

Content Rating

Rated PEGI 16 for strong violence. Violence towards the player’s character is generally non-realistic. For example, when hit by an alien's tentacles, she falls back and then stands up again. However, some violence is more realistic in nature. For example, when the player's character is struck by a series of glowing orbs fired by an alien character, these produce an 'electrocution' effect, with the character's body shaking and falling to the ground.

Rated for younger players in the US. ESRB TEEN for Blood, Mild Language and Violence. Players use futuristic pistols, machine guns, and rocket launchers against enemies. Combat is frenetic, with realistic gunfire, explosions, and cries of pain. Some alien creatures emit splashes of blood when shot and killed. In one sequence, blood stains appear on an altar that players interact with. The word “*!@?*” appears in the game.

Skill Level

13+ year-olds usually have the required skill to enjoy this game. Still, it's important for parents and guardians to consider the maturity required to process the game content. You need quick reactions, weapon management and snap decisions. Because you repeat the game there is scope to steadily improve. You also need to be prepared to lose all the progress on a current run.


Returnal usually costs £49.99 to £79.99.


PlayStation Store PS5 £69.99 Free

PS Plus Extra

Steam Store PC £49.99

Returnal Digital Deluxe Edition

PlayStation Store PS5 £79.99
PlayStation Store PS4 £79.99
There are the following additional costs associated with this game:
  • In-Game Purchases: Additional in-game purchases are offered for items that enhance the experience.
There are different versions available to buy:
  • Returnal Standard
  • Returnal Digital Deluxe Edition with extra weapons, consumables, artefacts and boosters. You also get the digital soundtrack. 
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DetailsGame Details

Release Date: 30/04/2021, updated in 2023

Out Now: PC and PS5

Content Rating: PEGI 16

Skill Rating: 13+ year-olds

Players: 1

Genres: Action, Shooting (Collecting, Narrative and Traversal)

Accessibility: 21 features

Components: 3D Third-Person

Developer: House Marque (@HouseMarque)

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Taming Gaming Book Written by parents for parents, the database complements the in-depth discussion about video game addiction, violence, spending and online safety in the Taming Gaming book. We are an editorially independent, free resource without adverts that is supported by partnerships.

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