A doomed spaceship with the crew all turned into mutants has one hope. You control the clone of a security officer. If you die, you come back as another clone. You have infinite lives, but that doesn’t mean you’re going to have an easy time repairing the ship. Each time you start a run in The Persistence, the ship’s rooms are randomized as well as where the mutants are. You only keep the materials you find but lose all weapons and gear. Upgrades stay, so once you’ve upgraded something, you can buy it again. Originally this was a VR game but has been ported over in such a way that you probably wouldn’t even notice.
Here’s what I liked:
Being Persistent — As the title suggests, you just have to keep trying. The more you upgrade, the easier things will become. You’ll unlock new schematics for better gear and be able to upgrade just about everything. Each suit you obtain can vary up the playing style to fit the approach you want to take. At first you might be sneaking around, scared to walk into any room. But eventually you’ll memorize how the enemy moves and be even more powerful than the attempt before. Eventually I wasn’t hiding from enemies. I knew the timing of their attacks and how to exploit teleporting behind them to perform an execution move. It felt good to be able to tackle the challenges thrown at me. There are four decks and each becomes increasingly difficult. There will be more enemies and they will be stronger than previous decks. Deck 4 will never be easy, but with the right upgrades and tools, you can amass enough weaponry to breeze through it.
Awesome Arsenal — There are a lot of ways to kill the mutants patrolling the doomed ship. Guns, melee weapons, grenades, and serums serve as your destructive tools. From the moment you start, you’ll realize you’re in a futuristic sci-fi world with gorgeous weapons. They really are cool and remind me of Bioshock and Singularity. I love having so many options that are clever and used in certain situations. For example, there’s a gravity gun that lets you grab enemies and throw them into each other. Or into an explosive barrel. Besides finding them, you can purchase them for a fairly cheap price at various stations. If you wanted, you can keep buying more after the station recharges. The last area I had to go through was extremely difficult. I crafted Rage Serum which makes you able to kill enemies by punching them while you cannot be hurt. I had it upgraded fully so it lasted a long time. I just kept buying them so I had plenty, and was able to defeat anything that stood in the way of me beating the game. It’s nice having this option even if it was kind of cheap. Did I mention you can teleport? That’s also fun, and you can reposition yourself to get the kill shot on an unsuspecting mutant.
Horrific Sounds — A great deal of work went into setting the tone of sound effects. Built as a VR game, the sense of uneasiness was made through making you feel like something was after you. There are times you’ll be walking around only to hear a loud thud, or what sounds like footsteps. One time it even came true. Not all enemies can go through doors, however, there is one with a staff and lightning coming from him that can go where he pleases. I had set my controller down thinking I was safe, multi-tasking with real life. I heard a sound that was getting closer. I quickly grabbed my controller and turned around. Lo and behold, the mutant was slowly approaching me. Luckily I survived the encounter. But it just goes to show you that these sounds aren’t just background noise. They can warn you of danger, or they can just make you full of suspense. I can’t imagine what that’s like in VR, but even on a standard television it’s absolutely frightening.
Here’s what I didn’t like:
Next Floor — Each time you visit a different deck, you have to go grab a treasure chest (basically what it it is) to get a keycard, so that you may start on that deck whenever you want. I do wish it was automatic once you got to the level for it to be unlocked. I found numerous times I would die before even getting to the chest. Because of the rooms being randomized, sometimes it was a real pain to get there. You have to hope that it’s close and is the easier of the challenges.
Not So Great Escape — I mentioned all of the weapons being really cool. There is one, in particular, that is very buggy. That is the escape technology. It says you teleport to a safe area. I assumed this was the medic bay that has health and weapons. I was wrong. Being overrun by enemies, I quickly switched to the device and used it as a hail mary attempt. I was transported into a vent. I then fell through the floor and watched the starship get smaller as I fell into space. Oops! There were also a few times when I tried to teleport only to end up falling into an electric field. I’m not sure why the game even allows you to teleport to these areas but it happened a few times.
I feel like there’s a lot I didn’t cover, which is awesome because it means there is a lot to explore. I didn’t touch on the Ivy serum at all, but it allows you to make any enemy your friend. They fight for you until they die. They have little hearts above their heads. It’s really cool! Being a fan of horror and not a huge fan of rouge-like, I can attest that there’s something special about The Persistence. It’s a weird combination of genres. Sci-fi horror, virtual reality, and rogue-like. However it’s blended extremely well, even without being able to experience it in VR. It’s something you really have to play enough to enjoy. You might not like the first hour or two, but eventually it will grow on you as your character grows in power. After that it’s always “just one more try”. Overall the whole experience might take you around 15 or so hours to complete. With futuristic technology, scary mutants, and sound effects that will raise the hair on your neck, one can’t ask for much more.
Score: Must Buy
The Persistence was published and developed by Firesprite Ltd. on Xbox One. It was released on May 21, 2020, for $29.99. A copy was provided for review purposes.