Now Playing: The Persistence (PSVR)

Before I even get into this, let me apologize for the mostly underwhelming screenshots here. VR games already don’t tend to photograph very well as it is, but this one was even worse what with the game often being so dark and combat being so deadly that I couldn’t really risk trying to snap pics mid-conflict. If you’d like to see more I advise you to watch the trailer or check out the free demo.

Anyway, The Persistence is a sci-fi horror first person roguelike VR game. That description alone was enough to dampen my pants when I first heard it, but even better…the game’s actually really damn good too. In it, you awaken in a mysterious sciencey tube on a spaceship, The Persistence, only to be told that your original body has been killed, you now reside in a bio-printed clone, the ship is falling into a black hole, and you’re the only one left to stop it, but…the ship is also kind of sort of infested with weird bio-mutants that the ships other damaged bio-printers keep spitting out. The bad news is that these bio-mutants are going to just keep being printed out indefinitely no matter how many you slaughter, but the good news is…so are you!

And so begins a blood-soaked Groundhog Day in space where you have to try to make it through four deadly decks of The Persistence in order to effect various repairs and re-gain access to the bridge so that you can get yourself and the only other survivor out of there alive (though looking back on it, it seems like it would have been a lot simpler to just get in an escape pod and leave the ship full of monsters to die, but whatever).

To do so you’ll have to engage in a lot of sneaky stealth as much as possible, not just to reduce your risk, but because you can harvest extra stem cells from enemies if you stealth kill them, which you don’t get if you kill them normally. Stem cells are one of the three currencies in the game, and possibly the most important one, as they can be used to permanently upgrade the stats of your clone bodies. There are also fabrication chips, used for unlocking permanent armor and default equipment upgrades, as well as for purchasing weapons from weapon printing machines out in the decks, and erebus tokens, which are used to permanently upgrade said fabricated weapons.

You’ll always have your trusty short-range teleport and supersense abilities to help you be as sneaky as possible, but when things go wrong you’re going to want to dig into that arsenal of overt weapons and be very glad that it’s so diverse and effective. The Persistence has multiple types of guns, melee weapons, grenades, and an assortment of exotic weapons like a serum you can inject into an enemy to make it act as your defender, or a semi-familiar-looking gravity gun, or tele-frag units. There were a couple weapons I never even got around to trying out in the end, though I probably should have, because they’re all quite effective and impressive in their own ways.

The gravity gun, for example, can be extremely useful in taking out the pesky teleporting enemies and the extra deadly Bloodhounds, and what a great touch it was to let you pick enemies up with it and then move them around by looking around, so you can then move your head to bash them into walls and ceilings. The downside though, is that it’s extremely ineffective on a few other enemy types, namely the ones that explode or have guns.

Naturally, the ammo you can find and afford on all these wonderful weapons is extremely limited though, so don’t expect to be easily blasting your way through the game. Caution, patience, and conservation are still extremely important.

During your adventures you’ll also want to keep an eye out for unlockable shield stations, special crew bodies that you can find and harvest on each floor in order to print out different bodies with different perks, and because things weren’t difficult enough already, special challenge rooms that contain chests with large amounts of currency and/or rare gear blueprints. You’ll also kind of have to learn how to conquer these challenge rooms whether you want to or not after the first deck, as each one after that will contain a special memory chip that’ll give you access to instant teleportation to that deck instead of having to fight all the way through the previous one(s). They’re some tough battles (at least until you get used to them and learn which weapons are best for dealing with alerted crowds), but the rewards are well worth it.

One more thing I’d like to add, is that as painfully difficult as The Persistence can be, it’s also very fair in its roguelike nature. When you die you’ll lose whatever weapons you had bought or found out in the decks, but you get to keep ALL your currencies and found blueprints. Also, while decks will be almost entirely re-arranged and re-filled with enemies upon death, the special scripted areas at the end of each deck, all of which involve completing sequences of actions that result in waves of enemies popping out after each part of the sequence, will generously save your progress there permanently even if you die. This all goes a long way towards making you feel a bit less filled with rage when you die, because you’ll almost always at least have still gained SOME ground even if this one attempt failed.

So that should all give you a pretty good idea of what The Persistence is all about. This game is exceptional in terms of stealth, horror, action, roguelike gameplay, and functional PSVR controls. I’d say that the only area it’s really lacking in is story, but man, you’ll be so busy cowering behind a box in the dark hoping that twitching beast shambling towards you doesn’t look in your direction that I doubt you’ll have time to care. This is a shining example of the potential that VR gaming holds, being not only one of the greatest modern horror experiences in existence (second only to Resident Evil 7 if you ask me), but one of the most fun and well-produced VR games I’ve ever played in general. Highly, highly, highly recommended for all fans of horror and tough games.

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