Returnal Dev Says Tower of Sisyphus Still Hides Something Important

Returnal is a game full of secrets. The plot is a convoluted, complicated, and altogether untrustworthy narrative. That’s all the intent of developer Housemarque, of course. The mystery of Returnal‘s story is as much an attraction as its roguelite, third-person bullet hell gameplay. While the secrets of Returnal may never be fully uncovered, Housemarque does have at least one discovery it’s hoping will be found. Returnal players can look to the Tower of Sisyphus for answers.

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Speaking to VideoGamesChronicle, Returnal‘s senior narrative designer Eevi Korhonen shared some thoughts on something she hopes players will discover yet. Korhonen was asked if there were any specific secrets left to find in Returnal that she wanted to be found. In her response, she said that there was something she hoped players would discover, though she says it’s less of a secret so much a “nice philosophical reference.”

The message from Korhonen to Returnal‘s player base is appropriate for such a complicated game. A secret is something specific and tangible for players to find. A “nice philosophical reference” is formless, however, and something players may think about and never realize how important it is to Returnal‘s narrative. Korhonen, of course, will be watching to see if players figure it out, though whether she’ll tell players when they do or not remains to be seen.


The Tower of Sisyphus is a game mode added to Returnal post-launch. It elevates Returnal‘s difficulty by offering 20 levels of roguelite action, with each level offering stronger weapons and upgrades alongside an increase in intensity and challenge. It’s also a reference to the Greek myth of Sisyphus, who was punished by Zeus for cheating death twice and was forced to forever roll a boulder up a hill, only for it to then roll down the other side.

Selene, Return’s protagonist, has been described as Sisyphus before, even before Housemarque added the Tower of Sisyphus to the game. Exactly the conclusion that Korhonen is hoping players reach isn’t clear, though. Perhaps it’s Selene’s effort to recover from past trauma, or the fact that even in her best moments Selene is only given a brief respite from “climbing the tower.” Perhaps Korhonen has a more specific parallel with real-life she’d like to see players arrive at.


Returnal‘s secrets and the truths behind its message may never fully be uncovered, but that’s also the nature of Returnal. The repetitive structure of Returnal is inherent to its narrative, even if it may not feel like it while shooting aliens with increasingly powerful weapons.

Returnal is available now on PS5.

Source: VideoGamesChronicle

Source: Gamerant

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