Table of Contents Show
You will find all you need about the ending explained in this guide and how to unlock secret ending in Returnal! We know that there are people who have a hard time finishing the Returnal game. If you are one of those who find it difficult to finish the game, let’s take you to our Returnal guide.
Returnal Secret Ending
Welcome to our Returnal Secret Ending guide. You will find all you need about the ending explained in this guide and how to unlock secret ending!
Returnal Ending Explained
In Act 2 of the game, “Returnal,” players defeat a boss called Ophion and then explore a crater at the bottom of a large body of water. Here, they encounter a submerged car and a strange globe that transforms into a sea creature. The game takes a surreal turn when the protagonist, Selene, experiences a flashback of a mother and child driving in the same car that the players see. The mother, who resembles Selene, does not notice a strange figure dressed in a vintage astronaut suit standing in the road because the radio cuts out. The car crashes through a bridge and into the water, and the mother is unable to save the child from the wreckage. The implication is that Selene is experiencing a time loop, and she is being pulled back into it once again.
One of the popular theories about the ending of the game “Returnal” is that Selene’s journey through the game was just a dream. The theory suggests that Selene, who was deeply invested in her work, suffered a severe car accident, possibly due to fatigue, and created a fantasy world of her adventure in Returnal as a way to cope with the trauma. There are clues that support this theory, such as Selene’s obsession with her work and the appearance of an astronaut figure and a mysterious signal known as the “White Shadow” throughout the game. These details build a compelling case for the possibility that Selene’s journey in Returnal was a figment of her imagination.
Despite the popular theory that Selene’s journey in “Returnal” was a dream, there are some aspects of the story that don’t quite fit. For instance, the game includes multiple “false” endings where Selene returns to Earth only to be thrown back into the time loop. If everything was just Selene’s imagination, it’s unclear what could have triggered her to discover the truth. Additionally, the strange radio cuts, the true identity of the figure in the road, and the timeline of Selene’s supposed dream all pose further questions.
Perhaps it’s possible that the car accident threw Selene into a kind of purgatory where she’s forced to confront her final moments as a form of punishment. This could help explain the game’s difficulty and certain loose ends. However, the game’s other ending offers some new possibilities that could further shed light on the game’s overarching story.
How to Unlock Returnal’s Secret Ending
- Beat Act 2 once and access the base ending.
- Find the six Sunface Fragments spread across each Biome in the game. Their locations are somewhat randomized relative to when you’ll find them, but they do appear in specific rooms in each Biome you can eventually encounter. You also don’t need to collect them all in one run.
- Complete all “House Sequences” across Act 1 and Act 2. These must be completed in order, and you won’t be able to finish them if you don’t have all of the Sunface Fragments.
- The final House Sequence should take you to a room where you find a Car Key. Take that item.
- Complete Returnal’s second Act again, defeat Ophion, and use the Car Key on the sedan you find at the bottom of the crater. This will trigger the secret ending.
Returnal Secret Ending Explained
In Returnal’s secret ending, Selene confronts a mysterious figure who attacks her before revealing themselves to be named Theia, which is Selene’s mother’s name. After the encounter, Selene is transported to another world and finds herself standing on a bridge in her spacesuit as a car swerves to avoid her and crashes into the water. The scene then shifts to the perspective of one of the car’s survivors swimming to the surface, and we hear Selene cry out “Helios” just before the credits roll. The implication is that Selene has been transported back in time and is now reliving the car accident from her childhood, in which her mother was the driver and Selene was the child.
The secret ending of Returnal suggests that Selene was transported back in time and caused the car accident herself as the astronaut, not her mother. This ending also implies that the child version of Selene was not the driver of the car. This new interpretation of events changes our understanding of the other endings and the game itself. The theory is that Selene’s time paradox is both literal and metaphorical. In an earlier scene, Selene shot down her own ship, which means she has some control over her situation. This suggests that not everything we are seeing is a dream or metaphor.
In a metaphorical sense, Selene’s situation in the game is interpreted as being trapped in a time loop because she wanted to pursue her dreams of space exploration, which her mother couldn’t achieve due to her physical condition. The house sequences provide evidence that Selene became interested in space exploration at an early age, which was her mother’s passion, and they occasionally bonded over it. This obsession grew as Selene matured, and she might have disregarded other aspects of her life, including her own child. The flashbacks do not always make it clear whether the child we see is Selene, Selene’s child, or both, but the ambiguity adds to the argument that Selene and her child led comparable lives.
In my interpretation, the game’s secret ending is likely the definitive conclusion of the story. The fact that it’s presented in the third act suggests it’s the true ending. This conclusion seems to indicate that Selene is able to break the time loop that she’s caught in, after collecting the necessary pieces to do so. By understanding the significance of the events that led her to this point, Selene is able to break free from her hereditary time loop. It’s also possible that the person escaping the car in this ending is a young Selene, who can now choose a different path in life. However, Selene’s cry of “Helios” suggests to me that she’s returned to her spaceship and can finally go back home.
The names of the characters and the planet in Returnal have significant historical and mythological meanings. Helios is the Greek god of the sun, Selene is the Greek goddess of the moon, and Theia is the mother of both. Atropos, the name of the planet, is the oldest of the three fates in Greek mythology, responsible for ending mortal lives. Although Atropos appears to kill Selene repeatedly in the game, it’s possible that one of the Selene’s avoided that fate or Selene was able to reshape her circumstances paradoxically. The fact that Selene grabs the car keys in the end suggests that she is now in control of her life, and it’s possible that she has broken the time loop and the thematic loop that was holding her back.
At its core, he is open to the idea that the explanation for the events in the game is “purgatory”, but the outcome of the game is both a concrete time loop of the protagonist Selene and a more nuanced underlying what affects her life.