Returnal star would "absolutely" come back for sequel after big BAFTA win
Now the proud owner of a BAFTA for her performance as Selene, Returnal's Jane Perry would be "absolutely delighted to continue".
At the BAFTA Games Awards 2022, Returnal was one of the big winners of the night, taking home the awards for Best Game, Music, Audio Achievement and Performer in a Leading Role.
With all this gong-laden success, as the development team from Sony's Finnish studio Housemarque descend on London to celebrate, it's only natural to wonder if a sequel or expansion could be on the cards for Returnal.
When Jane Perry, the actor who won the BAFTA for her game-leading performance as Selene Vassos in Returnal, walked into the BAFTA Games Awards press area carrying her hefty trophy, RadioTimes.com couldn't help but ask if she'd be interested in returning to the character.
Perry told us and other members of the press: "It is called Returnal, so yeah, I'll come back. Absolutely. Oh, yeah. I'm very interested in her and her progression, I love Selene as a character, and I'd be absolutely delighted to continue to play her. For sure."
As for why the character of Selene, a middle-aged single mother who is trapped in a time loop on an alien world, has resonated with players and awards jurors alike, Perry is quick to credit the developers from Housemarque.
"Well, I think that's very unique, you know, and kudos to Housemarque. I think they kind of took a risk, you know? Like, they could have had a younger gal, or they could have had a man, but no."
Perry recalls talking to the game's director, Harry Krueger, prior to taking on the role. She remembers: "He said, 'You know, when I was thinking about this character, I myself was a parent, and I felt this kind of tension'. I hope I'm not telling tales out of school, but I think we all feel this tension of being a parent and having a career, and what can come from that is really profound.
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"And I think they felt that having a middle-aged woman would best express that kind of tension. And I think it's wonderful to have, you know, we talk a lot about diversity across the board. And I don't think in games we see so many older women kicking butt the way Selene does."
Numerous developers from Housemarque soon pour into the room, proudly clutching their own BAFTAs, having just picked up the award for Best Game. What does it mean to the team to be the big winners of the night?
Narrative designer Eevi Korhonen tells us: "Well, in Finland we have this saying, 'torille', which means 'to the square'. So anytime Finland is winning big, when it comes to sports or anything, you say 'torille', which means that you go to the big market square to celebrate. People get a little crazy. They start taking their clothes off and swimming in the fountain. And this feels like torille."
We strongly advise the team not to swim in any fountains or water masses they might find in London, but the celebratory atmosphere is certainly infectious. It's especially nice to see a game with bold, experimental leanings picking up awards. Returnal's gameplay is hard, its story is fraught with ambiguity, and there isn't even an option to save the game.
"I think we just got the go ahead from Sony to do this dark, weird thing," Korhonen says of the game. "Certainly, at some point, I was convinced that somebody's gonna be like, 'That's not gonna fly. This is too weird.'
"Like, you know, we intentionally wanted the story to be ambiguous, that there will be no single canonical interpretation. And I felt like, are we just going too deep? Like, are we going too artsy, or, you know, too honest or unintelligible. But it's been great to see that the fans really resonated with it. And they're still coming up with theories and what it all means. And that's exactly what we wanted to do with it."
Housemarque CEO Ilari Kuittinen echoes those Sony-based sentiments later on, when he's asked for thoughts on Returnal's positioning as one of the flagship titles on Sony's soon-to-relaunch PlayStation Plus subscription service.
"I think Sony management does do some wise decisions at some points," Kuittinen says with a laugh, literally looking over his shoulder to some suited men behind him. "Like, you know, funding this game - they started to fund this game five years ago, so they took a leap of faith."
With plenty of questions left unanswered by Returnal and Selene's story arguably unfinished, again, we can't help but wonder if Returnal 2 could be on the docket for Housemarque. Having spent five years working on this game, do the team from Housemarque know yet what they'll be spending the next five years on?
"They have banned me to say it," Kuittinen says, to much laughter from the room. And Korhonen adds: "There's trained snipers on him right now." And with that, we leave the Returnal team to their torille, eager to see what they offer up next.
Of course, we'd love to see Returnal 2, but we'd also be happy receiving a fresh idea from this highly imaginative team instead. A VentureBeat report from the DICE Awards quotes Kuittinen as saying last month: "It’s early days with us starting a new game, a new IP, concepting it out. We’ll see what comes with that." Watch this space, then!