Review: The Persistence (PSVR)

Review: The Persistence (PSVR)

Platforms:

  • PlayStation 4

Platform/Hardware Used:

  • PSN Download
  • PS4 Pro
  • 4K HDR

Extras:

  • PlayStation VR Required
  • DualShock 4 Required (1)
  • Move None
  • PS VR Aim Controller None
Title: The Persistence
Format: PSN (2.54 GB)
Release Date: July 24, 2018
Publisher: Firesprite Ltd.
Developer: Firesprite Ltd.
Original MSRP: $29.99 (US), £24.99 (UK)
ESRB Rating: M
PEGI: 16
A copy of this game was provided by the publisher for review purposes.
PS Nation Review Policy

Gameplay:
Without a doubt, The Persistence achieves a perfect balance of horror, action and stealth in a VR game that reminds me of Alien Isolation. This is neither Doom VFR, or Resident Evil 7. It carves out a space in between those with that roguelike gameplay that everyone seems to love.

Your character is printed back to life in order to save the mega starship “The Persistence” from plunging into a black hole. Unfortunately, the task is complicated by the lurking mutated crew members, who want to, well, kill you.

You aren’t given much in the way of offensive options, but you can find weapons along the way. Additionally, you can use collected stem cells, the game’s currency, to unlock weapons like batons and knives. But before you get excited about the prospect of cutting your way through countless space mutants, they have finite use and if you die, you lose them completely.

I’m not a fan of roguelike games but I never quite felt like the progress I made in The Persistence was lost when I would die. For one, the stem cells and fab chips you collect remain on your person after you die. So after a little bit of grinding, I was able to upgrade my armor and stealth abilities, rendering me less detectable by the mutants. Progress felt more rewarding than my previous experiences with these types of games.

Combat in the game is primarily physical. While guns and melee weapons are available, I tended to use them only when I knew the situation was going to be extreme. It’s that ol’ “save the bullets until you need them, because you will.”

You also have a shield at your disposal that, when timed correctly, can deflect most enemy attacks. Naturally, the shield runs out of juice if you use it too many times, but it self-regenerates after a few seconds and you can upgrade its longevity.

Ultimately, your best defense is stealth. Fortunately, The Persistence (and VR) gives you some advantages. For one, VR allows you to lean around corners which is something Resident Evil 7 fans are familiar with.

Furthermore, you have a sensor at your disposal which is also limited in uses, but fully upgradable. It allows you to see through walls and determine an enemy’s heading for those rear stealth kills. Still, early on in the game I died, a lot. Since the ship map changes with every death, I always had a new experience with each “reprint”.

The Persistence is played with a DualShock 4. I was shocked to learn that there was no Move support, but after playing for a few hours, I understood why. This game is very movement focused. You do a lot of slow creeping and the Move controllers simply do not allow for variations in walking speed, not with ease anyway.

It’s very much the same reason why Resident Evil 7 and Robinson: The Journey only supported the DualShock. I’m not really complaining. The game works well and I never felt I was missing out on an experience due to a lack of motion controls.

One thing that resonated with me was all of the upgrade options. There’s seriously no shortage of upgrades. I initially felt overwhelmed by what to purchase and what to upgrade. And certain upgrades like armor are visually represented on your person, which is awesome.

The sheer number of choices for your character make this game more than just another quick VR experience. I felt like there was so much to explore and so many ways to improve my character.

Visuals:
The demo for The Persistence caused me some concern as it had weak textures and murky visuals. The final game has improved all of this and made for a pretty engrossing environment. The lighting, or lack thereof, was perfectly blended to enhance the fear factor, while creating a believable derelict ship stage.

Even though you cannot see your own character, what you can see looks great, including your weapons and armor as well as the effects behind your shield and sensors.

Audio:
Sound is your best friend in The Persistence. Without it, you are severely limited in getting the jump on enemies. Sound alerts you to their presence, and headphones or stereo speakers will help you determine from which direction they are approaching. Sound design here is executed well, and combined with VR, it enhances the feeling of presence.

Online/Multiplayer:
This Cross-Platform play of smart devices to consoles or PCs is not new but The Persistence does it so well. My wife was basically my partner through a few of my treks. Not only did my character level within the main game, but she was also leveling as a navigator on the tablet, unlocking abilities that could help me or hurt me.

Fortunately she was being nice. She could tag enemies, allowing me to see them through walls and she could freeze them when the odds were too overwhelming for me. Often I’d be walking through a corridor and the lights would shut off suddenly, only for me to hear “oops” from her sitting next to me.

Whoever said that VR isolated you from other players has never tried this style of multiplayer. Oh, and this smart device feature is available for up to four players, so your entire group of friends can torture you while you try to survive the game.

Conclusion:
I found myself engaged and very entertained by this experience. Not only were the RPG elements enough to keep a nerd like me playing for hours, but the narrative and stealth elements worked well in VR.

We are slowly approaching the next level of VR gaming and The Persistence is one of those original titles that truly shows what the medium is capable of achieving. I can’t say enough great things about it.

Score:
9.0

* All screenshots used in this review were taken directly from the game using the Share functionality on the PlayStation 4.

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