Short, sweet and to the point: Return beings a fantastic new level in map design, custom content and puzzles within the Half Life 2 engine.
In my attempts to get away from looking at Portal mods, I located a recently released full-conversion mod named “return” for the Source Engine. Judging by the community reaction, screenshots and videos, I was very excited to get my hands on this mod and play it.
Return begins with you not remembering who you are and coming to in a large research complex solving a series of clever puzzles and killing baddies in the occasional fight sequences. During this, your journey is speckled with insane flashbacks, disembodied voices and various supernatural happenings that clash well with the Cyberpunk/Sci-Fi setting of the mod. There is an obvious lack of context until the very end, but in traditional Valve spirit, it’s not totally necessary to enjoy the game.
The mapping is fantastic, intuitive and fun; with everything tight as a drum, well optimized and linear enough to not get lost and backtrack into previously solved puzzles. The custom models, textures and skill put these maps is truly incredible and bathes the locations in so much backstory and tone, the plot devices are hardly needed. Unlike many puzzles made in the HL2 engine, Return does it excellently and meshes action and tricky puzzles into one satisfying combination.
While we are on the subject of puzzles: Hot dayum these are nice. From basic physics puzzles to finding objects/codes scattered around a room- these are incredible. I was stumped a few times easily before I caught on and felt good about myself for not being a complete idiot. Not being sure if you need to solve a complex puzzle or fight off a wave of enemies gives Return a nice tension and always kept me on my toes up to the very end.
The mod isn’t terribly long and while voice acting can be spotty in places, this is easily one of the best ones I have played in quite some time. The custom guns, enemies, effects and insane level of detail puts Return on a pedestal not many can compare to. I implore anyone who is reading this: Follow the links below and play this mod! A sequel may be coming soon, hopefully it won’t have the same treatment as Portal Memories.
Download the Mod here:
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