2020 saw Hades pick up Game of the Year nominations and awards from high-profile gaming awards ceremonies. In 2021, gaming celebration shows such as The Game Awards had roguelikes Returnal and Deathloop competing against each other to see which game had the best take on the premise of the player living, dying, and repeating that process until they finally figured out a way to break the cycle.
It seemed at last night’s 2022 BAFTAs that the sci-fi shooter Returnal was the big winner, as the game picked up the Best Game award during the ceremony. A third-person shooter with some psychological horror elements, Returnal sees players take on the role of Selene Vassos, who disobeys the orders of the ASTRA Corporation in order to follow a strangely familiar signal known as “White Shadow.” The game was met with a favorable reception, with reviewers praising how Returnal’s gameplay was complementary of its story and world.
Alongside being nominated for Best Game, Returnal was up for awards for Audio Achievement, Music, Technical Achievement, Original Property, Performer in a Leading Role, Narrative, Artistic Achievement, and Game Design. Of these nominations, Returnal took home four BAFTAs. However, for many, the Best Game award will be seen as the most prestigious of these prizes, as it marks Returnal as BAFTA’s game to play of 2021. The game was also up against some of 2021’s most popular titles like It Takes Two and Deathloop, with the former taking home multiple awards as well.
Returnal was also up against some smaller titles in addition to the larger games of 2021. It lost the Narrative award to indie game Unpacking, a title that focuses on a player moving into an empty room and unpacking boxes, slowly learning more about the story and the character they’re playing as. Some thought that Unpacking was snubbed at the 2021 Game Awards, though those fans of the title will be glad to see it recognized at the BAFTAs this year.
Despite impressive reviews and awards pickups, it seems that Returnal developer Housemarque is far from done with the game. A recent update released at the end of March brought co-op to Returnal, perhaps making the horror elements a bit less scary when the game is played with friends. The “Ascension” update also brought about a new game mode which brings about endless challenges, as well as new story elements, weapons, and a sixth boss.
Returnal is available now on PS5.