Return is one of the best games on PS5 to date, otherwise the better. Housemarque provided a unique experience for Sony, but that, in and of itself, is not unique. The Finnish studio has come to PlayStation several times over the past 14 years since Super Stardust HD first graced the PS3. Returnal is not only the latest example of the stellar partnership between the two entities, but also the reason why Sony should finally buy Housemarque.
A must-have from the launch era
Return the last example of their partnership, but obviously not the first. Sony released Matterfall, Alienation, and Dead Nation and maintained console exclusivity for Nex Machina, all of which are important when looking at the history of the pair’s great games. However, supporting Sony’s launches is arguably the most important element.
The aforementioned Super Stardust HD arrived on the PS3 in 2007 when the console had nothing but Resistance: Fall of Man. The first Uncharted hadn’t even been released yet. It was one of the best titles in the young system and one of the first showcases of Sony’s burgeoning relationship with indie games. Super Stardust HD was also the first game to support trophies, as if chasing scoring wasn’t addicting enough already.
Super Stardust Delta launched alongside the Vita and gave arcadey gameplay a more appropriate place on the portable system. Resogun was the first PS4 PlayStation Plus game, welcoming into the new console with one of its best arcade shooter games. Super Stardust Ultra VR released alongside PSVR and the base version of Ultra also received PS4 Pro support that year for the launch of the enhanced console.
Coming out at launch or in the launch window of a feature or platform so consistently is invaluable to a console maker because it gives users something to enjoy about their new hardware. And while Super Stardust Ultra VR was a bit of a nailed-down DLC piece, Housemarque has always been that reliable studio with something worthwhile to contribute in the early days of a system or feature.
Returnal is another, and perhaps the best, showcase of this dynamic. While it looks fantastic, it loads new cycles extremely quickly and the haptic feedback and adaptive triggers are up there with Astro’s playroom. 3D audio support was also not supported in this way. It’s both a fantastic game and an amazing way to present the specialties of the PS5. Sony will no doubt be releasing some new hardware or an interesting firmware update in the next few years and having Housemarque there as a first party would be even more fitting.
Housemarque has been open about the close relationship he has with Sony on Returnal. In an interview with IGN, Biz Dev and Marketing Director Mikael Haveri said the studio not only had a “huge partnership” with Sony on the tech side, but also talked about their history together.
“For a long time we wanted to upgrade so that we could show what we can do,” he said. “With Sony we have been able, for a few generations now, to gain the trust and understanding of what Housemarque’s vision is and I think this is the pinnacle of where we can show it. This is one of those situations where it’s been a long time to come, but clearly deviates from our previous catalog.
A unique team
Sony has recently been criticized for focusing too much on established intellectual property, as evidenced by Days Gone 2 which prematurely got the ax and the existence of the Last of Us remake. Although that seems a bit of a stretch as Sony Bend is working on a new IP and Sony’s stable of untested franchises and indies over the past decade, Housemarque would be a way to shake up that slightly misperception.
Returnal is not only a new series, but also a completely original game as it mixes different aspects of roguelites and third-person shooters with a budget that is not matched by others in the rogue genre. This is a big entry for this type of game in the AAA space and it will undoubtedly inspire more games afterwards.
Sony could use a developer like this to breathe new life into their mix of studios. Given its peculiar narrative structure, a direct sequel is probably not possible without some massive changes, meaning that Housemarque is making an entirely new game or a decent start from the first game. Housemarque always seems to have something going on. unique and different up its sleeve.
Follow the gates
Sony already has a solid group of first-party teams, but Microsoft is making decent ground with its recent wave of purchases. Buying Insomniac for $ 229 million was a smart move, but this purchase is still paltry for Microsoft’s shopping spree. This was even true before Microsoft bought Bethesda and Sony didn’t even buy one more team, which wouldn’t even buy an entire publisher, but it would help.
The acquisition of Insomniac may even foreshadow how Sony envisions Housemarque, as the two studios have a lot in common. Insomniac was independent but created games for PlayStation platforms for years until his biggest success, Spider-Man in 2018. Although Insomniac has developed an incredible series of games since the PS1 era and, according to an IGN feature on the team, has apparently tried to buy the developer before, the excellent multi-million dollar superhero game seemed like the title that greased. the wheels on the case.
Sales of Returnal are yet to come out, but it’s hard not to see him as Housemarque’s Spider-Man, given that the large critical reception from the two has apparently pierced in a way that other work by these developers didn’t. have not. It took almost a year after Spider-Man was released for the deal to be done, so maybe Sony will wait that same time to snatch Housemarque.
If Housemarque wants to remain independent, that’s good too. He’s the longest-serving Finnish developer for a reason and the independence deserves to be admired. However, joining Sony has some definite advantages for the console maker that are hard to overlook. Housemarque would also benefit from the extra security and it might allow her to do what she already does, but better. And if Returnal is just a glimpse of what Sony and Housemarque could do together as two separate entities, then it’s hard not to be excited about the possibilities when they come together under one roof.