Sony’s studio says it wasn’t easy to realise the story of the PlayStation 5 exclusive Returnal.
VGC quoted from an interview that it will publish later. The interviewee was Eevi Korhonen, who worked on Returnal as a senior narrative designer at Housemarque. It has a complex story, and she likened the writing process to walking a tightrope, as players experience the plot in a non-linear, more complex form.
“It was a tightrope walk. My boss Greg Louden, the narrative director, and I tried to ensure that both sides were included. So I was more ‘let’s make it more mysterious, let’s let the player puzzle it out with the community while Greg was kind of like ‘Okay, but we have to make sure that they understand some of this story,” Korhonen said. The story is presented in shorter doses in the game, and the player may appear to be watching random video clips. Still, there are also longer audio clips and written material. These are not found in order, so Returnal does feel like it is full of mystery.
According to Korhonen, “It’s hard to see, even with all this priming, until it’s actually in the game, how is it pacing? How is it looking together with all the other elements? So up until the last moment, we’re still cutting, editing, and then tweaking the wording and making things a bit clearer. I’ve been stalking our subreddit, and there have been wonderful little discoveries… there is something I’m still hoping that they will discover about the Tower Sisyphus. It’s not as much of a secret but a nice philosophical reference to the name. But nobody has put that on Reddit yet, so I haven’t seen anyone make that connection. But hopefully, someone will maybe after this.” (Sisyphean labour…?)
Housemarque’s next IP is in the very early stages of development, and little is known about it. Korhonen is hoping that some cut content from Returnal might roll over into this game (presumably coming to PlayStation 5 and PC). Korhonen says, “Returnal was so ambitious. We dreamt super big but still had to leave so much on the cutting room floor. All of these ideas and narrative systems. I’m super excited to pick up those pieces and see how those fit our new IP story.”