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The Persistence

Posted by GG Goblin On May - 28 - 2020

The VR roguelike space horror no longer requires VR.

Anyone who is lucky enough to own a VR headset will know that games designed for them tend to be quite different from regular video games. The immersive nature of VR allows for a different experience, and developers of VR games will make the most of that immersion. Firesprite Games originally launched The Persistence for PlayStation VR a couple of years ago, and have now made the potentially difficult decision to release the game for non-VR platforms. A roguelike space horror game, The Persistence was well received among VR players, but can it really compete with the huge number of other roguelikes on a non-VR platform? Well, the simple answer is a hesitant yes.


The Persistence is a deep space colony ship that has experienced a few problems, not the least of which is numerous system malfunctions and the majority of the crew either turning into mutants or being killed by mutants. It’s not in good shape. However, there is hope in the form of the player, who takes on the role of a cloned survivor who must make it through the ship to the various different systems and repair them. Being a clone means that death is merely a stepping stone as a new clone can be popped out easy enough, but each resurrection will result in the ships layout being mixed up for one reason or another.

This constant changing of the ship’s layout gives the game a chance to provide ample jump scares and creepy moments as the player will have no idea what lies around each corridor corner. Ample use of moody lighting adds to the creepy atmosphere, but this is perhaps where the game suffers the most from the transition to non-VR. Played with a headset, The Persistence proved to be incredibly immersive and positively scary thanks to the constant shadows and fear of the unknown. Playing on the television in a well lit room, the game does lose a lot of its creepiness. There is still plenty of tension as the player slowly moves around, with the slow movement also presumably coming from the original design on VR. However, it just fails to be as scary as it would be played on a headset.

Not that the scariness of the game really matters, as it still manages to be incredibly compelling to play on the big screen. The slow movement in the game takes a little getting used to, as it feels being able to run would be essential in this situation. However, there is more emphasis on being stealthy and crouching down to move around unseen, so the slow movement kind of makes sense. Moving through the random layout of the ship, the player will come across a fair few different mutants that would threaten to end the run early, and they will do quite often. The player is able to fight back though, with projectile weapons, melee and some interesting gadgets.


Using that stealth, the player will be able to sneak up on mutants and take them down if they are lucky. The melee is quite satisfying and the player has access to a parry mechanic that works well. Otherwise, there are guns with limited ammo that can be used in a pinch, or the clever use of some of the gadgets in the game can be fun, such as tethering mutants and flinging them around. Of course, it depends on the type of mutant that the player faces as to how they take it down. There is not a huge variety in the game and the player will have seen them all quite early on, but they can still surprise the player even if they know exactly how to take them out. The player will have to keep on their toes.

With a small teleport ability, something else that has come over from the VR roots, and a shield, the player will have plenty of choice as to how they approach any situation, along with how they build their character. Upgrades can be applied, currency can be found to purchase gear from machines on the ship, and the player is able to unlock buffs and perks that will allow the subsequent runs to be a little easier and for the player to progress that little bit further. The game overall is not as difficult as many roguelike games, but that will make it more enjoyable for the less hardcore crowd. Still, players will die a lot, so get over it.

The Persistence is a great looking game on the big screen. The lighting builds on the tense atmosphere, although there is a lot lost to no longer being on VR. The environments and enemies lack variety and imagination, which is a shame. While there are a lot of hints to the games’ VR origins, The Persistence still manages to be a very solid roguelike space horror experience, and is quite worth playing.


There are not many games that could successfully make the transition from VR to non-VR, but The Persistence just about manages it. While obviously better enjoyed in VR, The Persistence is still an enjoyable enough experience to warrant playing without a headset. The challenge may be lower than roguelike veterans would expect, and repetition can become an issue within the game. Even so, spending some time on The Persistence is quite good fun.




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