Returnal: 10 Most Memorable Quotes
There are plenty of memorable moments in Housemarque’s Returnal. A mind-bending science fiction action game, it places its protagonist, Selene Vassos, in a seemingly endless time loop on the hostile alien planet of Atropos. This makes for some incredible lines.
Each time she dies and starts again, she uncovers her previous bodies and her previous attempts at escape, each with mysterious audio logs from moments she hasn’t experienced yet. That, coupled with other strange happenings, proves that the world she has entered chasing the “white shadow” knows her better than she knows herself. How could anyone face such a daunting world? What would they even say?
10/10 Abandoning Helios
Called to this planet by a mysterious “white shadow” broadcast, Selene ventures away from her crashed ship, Helios, in pursuit of the signal. Where else would she go? Can she go?
“Abandoning Helios” has several meanings, uncovered throughout the game. As is the case with other aspects of roguelikes, returning to the beginning usually gives you more information and upgrades for future runs. However, as one of the first things Selene says over her open broadcast to ASTRA, it’s an opening line that sets the tone for what’s to come.
9/10 A Deceased ASTRA Scout
Returnal gets pretty weird right out of the gate. One of the most visceral scenes has to be when she discovers another astronaut’s body nearby her crashed ship. For the first time, that is.
“I have found a deceased ASTRA Scout here. Checking identification on helmet.” These are the last lines Selene speaks before discovering the deceased ASTRA scout is…herself. Somehow. What’s more is that Selene’s sidearm, which she lost in the crash, is lying next to the body. There’s a lot to unpack when faced with your own mortality, but Atropos isn’t a planet that affords you time.
8/10 If You’re Hearing This, You’re Stuck Here Too
Littered throughout Atropos are audio logs, left by the ASTRA pilots before they met an untimely demise. However, the first time you pick one up and play back the recording, it isn’t another voice that calls out to Selene. It’s her own.
“If you’re hearing this, you are stuck here too.” Chilling words to hear from someone you have yet to be, and the final warning this body of Selene’s gives to you in this first audio log. Now is when the uncertainty begins to set in. Have you…been here before?
7/10 I Have Interacted With Other Versions Of Myself
Another audio log. “I have interacted with other versions of myself” hints at something terrifying for the first time: Selene isn’t always dead when she returns to Helios.
It’s unclear whether the audio log version of Selene says ‘interacted’ as in seen or touched, or if she means she had a conversation with a past version of herself. At least, in this audio log — those you find in the future make it very clear she’s had full conversations with alternate versions of herself. Sometimes even violent ones.
6/10 And The Astronaut Keeps Following Me
Returnal has several key themes throughout, including ones that delve into Selene’s past — even parts of it she had forgotten or suppressed herself. One of those memories comes in the form of a mysterious, looming figure in an Apollo-era space suit.
“There is no comfort here. No safe space. And the Astronaut keeps following me.” It's a warning given on an audio log outside an impossible 20th-century colonial-style house in the middle of Atropos. By this point, you’ve seen glimpses of the Astronaut in cutscenes, but it’s only going to get worse.
5/10 It Scanned Me, But For What Purpose?
Atropos is littered with ancient alien structures and technology. Every world needs something like it, especially one inspired by the Alien movies. These sentient extraterrestrials, whose bodies you’ve no doubt come across at this point, have left behind a lot of weird, and helpful, tech.
One piece of technology looks like a mixture between a 3D printer and an iron maiden. So, what does Selene do? Steps inside, of course. “It scanned me. But for what purpose?” is what she asks herself when stepping back out, after having been copied and ‘saved.’
With your only company being audio recordings of future versions of yourself, you may start to slowly lose your mind. Selene did — or does, at some point.
Found in another audio log, this is one of the first hints you receive of Selene’s descent into madness, screaming about the aliens and “ascension.” It’s a moment that causes the Selene of the present to really question what’s going to happen to her.
3/10 Hi, Sweetheart. I’m Not Coming Home
Remember the 20th-century colonial-style house? Eventually, you’re able to make your way inside and discover that it’s Selene’s home back on Earth. There are plenty of interesting things you can interact with, learning more and more about Selene’s home life.
The phone is one of these interactions. You return to this home many times during your playthrough, and one of those times, there'll be a message on the answering machine. “Hi, sweetheart,” Selene’s voice says, “I’m not coming home.” It's a spooky memory relevant to Selene’s current position on Atropos.
2/10 White Shadow, You Were How I Escape
Eventually, Selene reaches the source of the mysterious white shadow signal. It takes many lives and difficult fights, but she reaches it. Once she does, she’s greeted with a vision of her future, followed by ASTRA contacting her and letting her know her broadcast was received. A rescue is inbound.
“White shadow, you were how I escape,” Selene says as she leaves Atropos and returns to Earth. She lives out the rest of her life and dies naturally 63 years later… only to wake up on Atropos again.
1/10 I’ll Save This For Later
At one point, you’ll return to the 20th-century house on Atropos, and something will change. These personal moments inside the house, or other narrative moments, are told through a first-person perspective. However, at one point, the camera stays in the third person and instead zooms out to the perspective of a child playing Returnal on her own PS5 — no doubt enjoying Returnal's excellent haptic feedback.
“I’ll save this for later,” the little girl says after Selene rings the doorbell. Not wanting to get in trouble or be too loud, the girl takes a break, and you’re free to explore her room through her eyes.
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