Returnal is a roguelike game developed by Housemarque and published by Sony Interactive Entertainment. The game was released as a timed exclusive for PlayStation 5 in April 2021. It was released for PC in February 2023.
The game was generally well-received with a Metacritic score of 86 which is labelled generally favorable. The user score is mixed or average, standing at 7.3. The game was directed by Harry Krueger. Harry Krueger is also known for his work on other titles like Nex Machina and Resogun. The game director has been a part of the Housemarque team for 14 years. Now, Krueger is departing from the studio after 14 long years,
Both Nex Machina and Resogun were shoot ’em-up video games that received generally favorable ratings from reviewers. The studio veteran was rightly given a deserved sendoff with a post on the studio’s website.
Returnal Developer Studio Housemarque’s Commemorative Post on Harry Kruger’s Departure
Returnal, apart from receiving favourable reviews was also awarded with several laurels including Best Game at the 18th British Academy Awards. At DICE Awards 2022, Returnal won Outstanding Achievement in Audio Design. Seling more than five hundred thousand copies, it was a commercial success for the studio as well.
The post was published on the studio’s website on November 20, 2023, and can be read in its entirety here. The Finnish studio, based out of Helsinki wrote the following in the post:
Today marks a significant moment for the Housemarque community, as Game Director Harry Krueger announced his decision to move forward after a dedicated 14-year tenure.
The post also mentioned how the studio’s latest game, directed by Harry Krueger was the studio’s latest and largest title. The effect it had on the studio was articulated by mentioning how the studio developed indie games before releasing the title. It was also the studio’s first full-priced title. Speaking about his experience during his tenure at the studio, Krueger stated that:
During my 14 years at Housemarque, I’ve been incredibly fortunate to work on one dream project after another, and had the privilege of working alongside some truly talented and wonderful people along the way.
He extended gratitude and voiced his sense of pride in the work that was put on display by the studio. Taking into account the journey the studio had undertaken, as per Krueger, the team really “shook the pillars of heaven together”. The post did not have any mention of the reason behind the director’s departure, Without commenting on the same Harry Krueger seemed to be all praises about the studio saying that:
Departing from Housemarque was a very difficult decision for me, but I’m leaving the company with nothing but deep gratitude for the past, and a glowing optimism for the future…
Speaking about the studio’s next venture, Krueger mentioned that “Housemarque’s brightest chapter has yet to be written”. It was confirmed in 2022 that the studio is indeed working on a new project, and it is a new IP from the studio.
This was confirmed by Housemarque’s managing director Ilari Kuittinen in an interview with VentureBeat. When asked about preserving studio identity and making live service games. Kuittinen said:
We’re one of the very last dinosaurs making arcade games. We had our stint working on multiplayer games… and we really didn’t do it as well
He continued and said:
But it’s early days with us starting a new game, a new IP, concepting it out. We’ll see what comes with that.
The upcoming game from the studio doesn’t have any information or announcements regarding it. A new IP could bode well for Housemarque, especially if tries to experiment with different genres.
There are still gamers who are fans of Returnal and would want Housemarque to consider the idea of a sequel. It will be interesting to see what Housemarque will accomplish with its new title as it was acquired by Sony shortly after Returnal‘s release.
The current sentiment in the games industry is that Insomniac is currently the only developer that is carrying Sony with phenomenal exclusives like Marvel’s Spider-Man 2. The game became the fastest-selling PlayStation Studios game selling more than five million copies in 11 days.
While there are other developers like Santa Monica which were behind God of War and God of War Ragnarok. There are also developers like Naughty Dog which garnered a lot of criticism due to The Last of Us Part 1‘s optimization as well as the announcement of The Last of Us Part 2 Remastered. Housemarque could very well be the net Sony-owned studio to make it big.
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