Housemarque has a lot of praise for Sony following the studio’s acquisition. If you don’t know, Housemarque is now part of the PlayStation Studios family and is currently working on a new triple-A game for PS5. However, while the acquisition is great for Sony, it is also just as beneficial for Housemarque. In a new interview, Returnal’s narrative designer Eevi Korhonen explains some of the obstacles the studio faced when building its latest masterpiece and how Sony has given the development team even more freedom on its new game.
Korhonen says that Returnal marked Housemarque’s first attempt at a triple-A game. This meant that the studio had to invest in the game’s story more than ever before. What started out as a simple narrative, grew in scope as the development process kicked off and Returnal went from being a rough draft with very little direction, into a fully-fledged story game.
Korhonen says that Returnal’s formula worked well. So much so that most of the game’s cut features and systems are now being used for Housemarque’s next game. While details are scarce on the project at the moment, the studio says that Sony has provided them with even more freedom to go even wilder than before. This is mainly thanks to the financial backing has for its PlayStation Studios.
During the interview, Korhonen confirmed that Housemarque’s next game is a new IP with some of Returnal’s DNA flowing through it. Korhonen says that because Returnal was so big, they had to cut out a lot of features and ideas to fit the game into one package. She says that all the cut features are being used in the new project and the studio is excited to see how it fits into the new IP story.
“We didn’t quite have the handle on how big [Returnal] was going to be, building for a new platform on a new engine with a new team, all of those things require some learning. Now we have that team that has gone through the fire and learned how to build a game like Returnal. So now we get to start off stronger.
“I think we’ve learned the importance of pacing and how difficult that is in a rogue-like game. It’s very hard to control and say ‘okay, now we hit them with this perfect story beat’, that’s kind of the beauty of linear games, you get to control that absolutely perfectly.
Letting go of that and somehow building the sandbox or the playground for players in a way that means certain story blocks become available is challenging.”
Housemarque is currently working on a new IP set to release on PS5 sometime in the future. Returnal is now available for PS5 and is part of the all-new PlayStation Plus Extra and Deluxe tiers.