Returnal has recently updated to version 2.0, introducing Photo Mode and a new saving system called “cycle suspension.” The new feature allowed players to pause their game and turn off the console, but without eliminating the permanent death mechanic during loops. The save is automatically canceled after loading the game. The players, however, have already devised a way to make the saves final, and therefore to create real checkpoints during the loops.
Create a suspend point and upload the save to the PlayStation cloud servers to make the saves permanent. In case of death during the loop, download the save from the cloud to resume exactly from the last suspension point created, as the new Housemarque feature deletes the save file exclusively from the PS5, not from the cloud servers.
This is a bit of a long process, and surely many users will prefer to face the challenge as intended by the developers, but if you are stuck at a certain point in the game, you will be happy to know that there is now a way to keep trying without having to start over.
Returnal is available exclusively on PS5 and has recently been updated to version 2.0.