5 time-bending titles like Returnal that can be played on PC

Exploration (Image via Returnal)
Exploration (Image via Returnal)
Angshuman Dutta

Returnal being the only PlayStation 5 exclusive is sad news for PC gamers because it is a fantastic title this year. It fully utilizes the possibilities of its next-gen console and manages to deliver a rogue-like experience that has kept the players happy.

But other than hacking and slashing and the beautiful combat animation, Returnal puts players in a time loop. Players control Selene in Returnal, a space pilot, crashed on an alien planet, trying to figure out the truth about the time-loop.

The past few years have seen an increase of games, like Returnal, dealing with the idea of time manipulation.


Other games like Returnal that use time manipulation

5) Deathloop

In Deathloop, the players play as Colt Vahn. Similar to Selene in Returnal, Colt tries to figure out why the time-loop is happening. Then, the players in Deathloop are tasked with breaking the time-loop by killing all the other Visionaries in one loop whose lives power the reset.


The primary antagonist of the game is another Visionary called Julianna. Like Colt, she can also keep her memories from previous deathloops.

In Deathloop, players are to enjoy many weapons and powers at their disposal as they make their way to killing the opposition. The game also provides unique gameplay with a brightly popping color palette.

4) Outer Wilds

The most ambitious game on the list, Outer Wilds, is an indie take on exploration and curiosity. The game was developed by Mobius Digital and is set in a contained solar system orbited by five planets and other space bodies.


The player wakes up on Timber Hearth, the only planet in the system to house life. They are part of Outer Wilds Ventures and are going to blast off in their spaceship. Their primary goal is to discover what happened to the Nomais, a vastly superior civilization that used to live in the solar system.

22 minutes into the playthrough, the sun goes supernova and wipes out the whole system. Then the player again wakes up on Timber Hearth on their first day of leaving for space.…A strange satellite photo that can’t be explained. A new exhibit marks one last journey into the wilds. Will you pull at the thread and unravel it's secret, or is some knowledge better left in the dark? Echoes of the Eye is NOW available on all platforms!

Outer Wilds, like Returnal, has gorgeous graphics and immersive soundtracks for the players to enjoy as they try to figure out why they are stuck in the loop.

3) 12 Minutes

Like Returnal, 12 Minutes utilizes the mechanics of the time-loop exceptionally well in its story. For most of it, the game is set in a small apartment shared by a husband and wife. From a top-down perspective, players control the husband.


The game employs a point-and-click style of play. Information picked up in previous loops carries over as the husband tries to prevent his wife's death. The time-loop here is on the shorter side, only 12 minutes but immensely engaging, akin to Returnal. The game is also boosted by the performances of its voice actors - James McAvoy, Daisy Ridley, and William Dafoe.

2) Elsinore

Golden Glitch's Elsinore is based on William Shakespeare's Hamlet and follows the narrative of the play. The developers take several creative liberties in their retelling of the age-old story. As in Elsinore, the protagonist is Ophelia.

Pick up ELSINORE during the sale and you, too, can call out Claudius however you want. Or... sleep with him. Up to you,…

Players control Ophelia as she comes to terms with being stuck in the time loop. She has to uncover the various plots that are being hatched by several figures around the Elsinore castle. Unless she puts a stop to it, everyone, including her, dies. Choices the players make influence the ending they get for their protagonist.

Like Returnal, Elsinore boasts an immensely engaging narrative. The mechanics of the time loop allows the developers to fully flesh out the possibilities that were already there in Shakespeare's canon.

1) Titanfall 2' "Effect and Cause"

Titanfall 2 is the oldest title on the list, having come out back in 2016. The whole game also does not deal with time-related shenanigans. However, it is added for players to try out because of one of its levels.


In Titanfall 2, players follow Pilot Jack Cooper and the Titan chassis BT-7274 in their quest to the IMC from destroying the Militia planet Harmony. Aptly titled "Effect and Cause," it is the fifth level in the game and allows the player the unique mechanics of shifting back and forth in time.

Jack Cooper and BT have come across a ruined research facility. A special glove allows him to constantly shift between the dilapidated present-day state and the working past state as he makes his way past enemies and obstacles. This makes for one of the most enjoyable pieces of gameplay, especially for a first-person shooter game.

This article reflects the opinions of the writer.

Edited by Srijan Sen


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