2021’s Returnal, Sony’s PlayStation 5 exclusive developed as a roguelike third-person shooter with psychological horror elements, is getting an expansion later this month, called Ascension. It’s a pretty apt name considering that the game adds a terrifying new endless mode called the Tower of Sisyphus — a 20-floor tower that gets increasingly tough as gamers ascend, earning credits to its name. The game’s development team announced the game via PlayStation Blog and dropped a new gameplay video for you to check out:
According to Polygon, the upcoming expansion for Returnal is completely free of charge, like all the previous games update, which now includes online co-op multiplayer mode and a terrifying new tower for players to ascend. However, the co-op multiplayer mode will be strictly reserved for players with a PlayStation Plus subscription, which might be absorbing PS Now option. This is a fantastic option multiplayer gaming fans will appreciate, but unfortunately, it wasn’t the main point of this video. Instead, the larger segment of the gameplay video published by Housemarque is actually dedicated to explaining the Tower of Sisyphus.
In Greek mythology, Sisyphus was a king of Corinth who became infamous for his general trickery and twice cheated death. Zeus punished him for it by forcing him to roll an immense boulder up the hill in the depts of Hades, only for it to roll down every time it neared the top, repeating this action for eternity — hence the term “Sisyphean task.” Though it’s highly unlikely for a mythical figure to appear in a sci-fi game playing out on an alien planet, his tower in Returnal very much mirrors his punishment.
As per Housemarque’s explanation from the new Returnal video, the Tower of Sisyphus is a challenging 20-floor tower that gets increasingly difficult as the game’s protagonist battles its inhabitants and ascends to higher floors. Each floor has multiple rooms, all of which are machine-generated and randomized, offering a unique experience during each visit. The players’ objective is to survive and complete objectives. There’s also a point multiplier — something players would have to keep alive through game mechanics — which basically measures your efficiency.
Some rooms even feature enemies whose deaths spawn portals to bonus rooms, which contain their own surprises and rewards but aren’t as favorable towards the players. This process is entirely random, along with the affixes that either play in your favor, against you or somewhere in between. Housemarque designed the entire tower in Returnal to mirror a Sisyphean task — players are destined to push the boulder up as high as possible.
However, death is inevitable in Returnal, and those ascending the tower will eventually reach a point where the odds are stacked so unfavorably against them that progressing would require a tremendous amount of skill and dedication. Introducing online leaderboards that track the players’ Tower progress would be another nice addition to the game, sparking competition among the game’s community. But that might have to wait for another update. Returnal Ascension is scheduled to release on March 22 for PlayStation 5 consoles.