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Returnal guide: Cthonos

How to use the obelisk at the crash site

The main character of Returnal stands in front of the Cthonos Image: Housemarque/Sony Interactive Entertainment via Polygon

At the start of each new cycle in Returnal stands a mysterious obelisk called the Cthonos. In this Returnal guide, we’ll explain what the Cthonos does, explore what happens when you deposit ether into it, and explain how to use the artifacts and consumables it creates.

What does the Cthonos do?

The Cthonos is an obelisk that rests before the first gate at the crash site you start every run from. You can interact with the device before heading off to begin a new cycle. By depositing ether into the Cthonos, you’ll unlock new artifacts or consumables.

  • Artifacts are items that give you temporary buffs for each run.
  • Consumables are single-use items that you can use for offense or defense.
The Cthonos in Returnal
The price changes after each use
Image: Housemarque/Sony Interactive Entertainment via Polygon

After paying the set fee of ether — which changes after each use — a new artifact or consumable will appear. Scanning the unlocked object will add it to the available pool of brand new gear you can encounter in future runs.

If you have an excess of ether saved up that you haven’t used in any previous runs, the Cthonos becomes a great asset. It’s available at the start of each new cycle, so you can make use of it to better impact your current and future runs.

Since ether is a rare resource, you may not want to use it during runs to cleanse malignant objects or at a obolite repository. Using the Cthonos at the start of each run is a good practice if you’re not sure how to spend ether. The Cthonos is also one of the most reliable ways to unlock new items, unlike datacubes (which require finding one), defeating a boss, and finding a datacube processor location.