The Persistence cover Firesprite’s The Persistence was first released back in 2018 as a virtual reality title for PlayStation 4 VR. It was received well enough that Firesprite decided to port the game to PC and consoles, to be playable without VR hardware. Redesigning a game inherently designed for VR to work well with controllers and mouse and keyboard is no easy task, but Firesprite knocks it out of the park here. The Persistence is an absolutely terrifying horror space roguelike title, from its effective scares to solid gameplay and controls. It’s not a totally smooth transition and there are moments where the game can’t quite shake its VR roots, but as a whole,
The Persistence just works. The Persistence starts aboard a space colony ship and puts players in the shoes of security office Zimri Elder or, rather, her clone. Told from a first-person perspective, Elder must fight against mutants that have seemingly killed the rest of the crew. The goal of the game is to fix the ship and get back home to Earth, which is no easy feat. This is due in part to the game’s roguelike elements. Every single time Elder dies, they are “reborn” as a new clone and, thanks to some sci-fi plot device, the design of the ship changes and players must purchase or find any upgrades or weapons they had before dying. Related: Down The Rabbit Hole Review – A VR Reimagining of Alice in Wonderland Like most roguelike games, it’s not a concept that’s particularly endearing to more casual players, but it’s also not as challenging as other, more traditional games in the genre. Plus,
The Persistence is first and foremost a horror game and it uses that descriptor to great effect. The procedurally generated nature of The Persistence’s maps means there’s a new surprise around every corner and with it, a new jump-worthy scare. It’s all as tense as it sounds and, as effective as it would likely be in a VR setting, it’s just as unsettling to watch from the comfort of a couch with a controller in hand. The Persistence mutant The Persistence’s combat is simple but fun, with both projectile weapons and close-up combat available. The latter features a parry-like system that’s easy to learn but difficult to master while the former doesn’t exactly equip players with unlimited ammo and resources with which to buy them. Simply put, players must be smart and not rush into situations because this is very much not a game designed for that. Crouching and sneaking will be your best friend throughout the game’s 10 plus hour story mode and even then survival is not a guarantee. Graphically, The Persistence is beautiful to look at and it’s easy to imagine how it would look that much better in VR. Regardless, it translates well here, and it uses its dark, ominous lighting juxtaposed with the technologically advanced and sleek design of the ship to maximum effect. And with procedurally generated areas to add to that, there’s nearly always a sense of discovery and awe when it comes to exploration aboard The Persistence and its horrifying colony ship.
Sponsored Free on PC until May 21 By Epic Games Store For everything that The Persistence does well, however (and that is a lot), there are moments where it feels too obviously like a VR port. Its teleportation mechanic, which requires players to highlight an area and then select it, can be very finicky and unreliable. One can imagine that it would work more flawlessly in VR and it could have used more of a redesign to work smoothly with a controller. Additionally, the targeting reticle to open doors or access computers can sometimes go into an endless loop because all it requires is highlighting an object. Again, this is something that would be smooth and easy on VR, but just a little bit frustrating on console. These are minor design flaws, however, and most can be overlooked because the rest of The Persistence is simply astounding. It’s not just a successful port from VR to console and PC, it’s a terrifying and unique roguelike/first-person horror hybrid. And every experience will be a new one, which means there’s nearly endless scares to be found within. The Persistence is horror gaming done right, and that has little to do with whether it’s VR or not.
With a simple but engaging upgrade system; enough weapons and gadgets to make James Bond blush; and a great parrying mechanic that brings an unexpected rhythmic element to combat, this is one title that warrants a purchase even without any fancy VR setup. Repetition with enemy variety and level structure may mar the experience for some players, but it’s easy to overlook these faults when the core game has so much to offer.
After playing The Persistence on Xbox One I’m sort of disappointed I skipped it on PlayStation VR. The game is really well done and is built in a way that every small step helps; even if I die on a level, as long as I have collected something my time is not wasted. I’m fairly open that horror games are sort of a new passion of mine and I really liked the atmosphere in this game and a big part of that is how good the enemy AI is. There is a lot to like in this game as long as randomized gameplay (rogue light elements) are not a turn off. The Persistence is definitely one of the best rogue light experiences I have played in quite some time and I will likely go back and try the VR origins of this title.