Returnal is a very fun game that is caked in difficulty, so here’s a guide on how to beat Phrike — the first boss you encounter in the Overgrown Ruins area.
First things first, you should explore all of the overgrown ruins because there are a lot of helpful health, weapon, and suit augmentations that could really help you clutch out this fight. When this weird alien dude finally emerges from the fog, immediately start blasting away. The creature has three hefty health bars, so you want to have a consistent damage output and use your alternate fire at every chance you get. Beating it down quicker reduces the number of chances it gets to hit you back!
Phrike stage one has four moves: quick blue shots that track your initial position, a volley of purple orbs from the sky, during the purple attack Phrike also shoots red orbs directly at you. The final move is a laser beam that it shoots from its eye. You can see all of this (and more) in the video guide embedded below).
Most of the attacks here should be fairly easy to dodge if walk away slowly. Dodge inwards depending on the direction of the attack if necessary! The tricky part here is when he sort of chains his moves together, but if you stay calm and focus on moving out of the way of the orbs closest to you, it should be fine. It’s a lot of stuff on the screen at once, but remember you only need to worry about what’s moving directly at you. You should be able to take down this phase if you keep those things in mind.
Stage 2 Phrike is way more aggressive. It gains the ability to create a red energy pulse on the ground as well as a stronger laser beam. Unfortunately… it also gets a lightsaber. Not too different from the first phase, keep in mind you can dodge its lightsaber if you actually jump towards it. You can also dodge the ground energy pulse by jumping. That way you save your dash for another projectile. Always be thinking about whether it’s better to jump or dodge and you should get past this stage with ease.
Phrike’s third stage is the scariest of all, and grants it the ability to sword attack twice, as well as summon a new, more hectic amalgamation of all previous attacks. If you’ve gotten to this stage you should probably have an idea of Phrike’s attack patterns, though. They’re just slightly shifted or doubled during this section, so pay close attention to the charge-up animations. Even though they’re brief they’re a solid indicator of what this lil freak is gonna do.
If things get too hectic, remember a very basic Returnal tactic. You don’t need to aim down sights! While this basic video game mechanic is useful for precision fire, Phrike is pretty big and centered in the arena. Hip-firing gives you a much wider view of the battlefield and lets you focus on moving. You might not land every shot as perfectly as before, but your mobility will rise exponentially.
You got this. I believe in you!