Return. is a pleasant little surprise that turned up in my Steam Sale queue one morning while I was grinding for Holiday Trading Cards, because I’m a sucker. I finally got around to playing the thing and it’s fantastic, or as fantastic as a tiny little concept game is likely to be. At fifteen minutes or so in length, depending on how long it takes you to nail that boost-double-jump platforming trick (which repeats later), it’s a smaller-than-bite-size gem of pure aesthetic with an undeniable colour palette, stylishly fuzzed-out cursor (you’ll use exactly once), and a plot so paint-splatter abstract you’ll wonder if you’ve played through a story at all.
The screenshots you’re sure to take – because Return. is nothing if not gorgeous – will inevitably look like they were taken with a camera phone, from a distance, just like mine. The controls will force you to cramp your hand into a strange claw because Return. is much more interested in its own exquisite, vain beauty than it is your enjoyment or comfort. You’re going to do a great deal of swearing, because this game has about 14 jumps and 7 or so are very finicky. This is because Return. isn’t really here for you, it’s here for itself.
I love that about it.
I’m not sure how to write about a fifteen-minute, one-level game without ruining the tiny surprises it has in store, so perhaps I’ll leave it at that. Suffice to say that behind its frequently finicky, awkward controls and straightforward, timed-platforming design lies a delightfully weird little pick-me-up of a game with a one-track OST that floored me at first, and then grated a little after I died for the thirtieth time. If a game can be a sort of aesthetic pill with an immediate effect, well here you go.
Highly, hazily, dreamily recommended.
[ Oh dang, it’s the first Recency Bias! Hooray! With an attention span like mine you go through a lot of media very quickly, and some of that stuff merits more of a quick “oh Hey” recommendation, rather than the full Review treatment. That’s what Recency Bias is here for: to provide a landing pad for those little off-the-cuff thoughts and in-the-moment reactions that make playing/listening-to/seeing stuff so exciting. I’ll write about whatever I please here, whether it’s a song, an album, or a free video game that I grabbed off Steam because I was bored one day. The year 2019+ is a wellspring of bottomless spontaneous novelty, and you’re along for the ride. woooo ]