If there was ever a time to dive into the immersive world of VR gaming, that time would certainly be now, as the current offering of VR games are more than satisfying. Gone are the days where we only experienced overhyped VR demos passing as full games – these days VR games are making strong arguments to be considered right alongside their non-VR counterparts, and The Persistence from developer Firesprite is one such game leading this charge.
As a hardcore Dead Space fan who has thoroughly enjoyed similar games like Alien Isolation, as well as other intensified atmospheric interactive experiences, The Persistence is easily one of the best in class, offering a unique take on the survival genre. Moreover, how it all comes together in VR makes all the difference, resulting in an addictive reality you will not soon forget.
While The Persistence is the name of the massive space vessel you find yourself aboard, the engagement is a persistent actuality, founded on a rather simplistic gameplay design. You are Zimri Eder, commissioned as the ship’s security officer and one of the last remaining survivors of the ship’s unsuccessful deep space mission. Now, you must find your way home. It’s that simple…Yet, not quite!
When it comes to the games story, it is fairly straightforward, however despite its candor, players are handsomely anchored by the games ever-changing level compositions, myriad of weapon types and ingenuity, varied enemy types, level challenges and fantastic VR immersion.
What makes this narrative unique is the perspective by which players must tackle this their objective. Sure, you play are Zimri Eder, however you have the ability to possess other bodies or cloned versions of both yourself and other crew members who have met their end. You are survived because your essence or spirit has been kept in tact by a surviving source, known as Serena. Unfortunately, The Persistence is nearing a black hole, which is gradually pulling the ship closer, concluding in duplicate clones being created with fluctuating mutations. As a result, these monstrosities become your greatest threat of death and returning home.
Not only is this black hole causing grotesque cloning issues, it also seems to have a bizarre effect on The Persistence itself, causing the ship’s composition to randomly change every time Zimri experiences death. Just a heads up, you will die often, yet you will love it, as the challenges which are quite manageable continue to mount the closer you get to your ultimate goal. With there being four intricately fleshed out stratums, each plain undergoes a significant alteration, offering a dynamically new approach to how players must tackle their ambitions. This unique approach to the gameplay adds a fascinating twist to the experience, while fusing survival horror elements with rouge-like attributes.
From the beginning Zimri is equipped with a device known as the Harvester, which she uses to rip stem cells from the necks of enemies, also known as the crazed clones walking about ready to attack on sight. Importantly, stem cells are used to enhance players by augmenting their bodies with increased melee strength, stealth and health, including the employment of dark matter abilities, such as the more than useful Super Sense, enabling player to survey their environment by seeing through objects to locate potential threat, as well as enhanced movement allowing players to quickly cover great distances.
As players progress through the narrative eventually you are introduced to specific fallen crew members, whom once you have acquired their stem cells allows players the option of resurrecting within the new cloned body of the fallen crew members. The acquisition of multiple bodies of deceased crew members gives Zimri more options of tackling the game with a variety of unique attributes from the varied shipmates.
As a dedicated VR interactive experience exclusively playable on PlayStation VR, The execution allows for smooth and seamless gameplay. Moving around the ship and gathering collectibles requires players to only look in the direction of the item to be had, just as long as they are close enough. This same concept is applied even when opening corridors or gaining entry through ventilation shafts.
Throughout each of the ships levels players will find a collection of FAB chips, which can be used at manufacturing stations as a source of game currency for manufacturing weapons and other tools of destruction and survival resources. Including handguns, assault rifles, harpoon gun, revolver, grenades, gravity gun, invisibility capsules, rage capsules and other impressive resources. In addition, all of these resources can also be upgraded. How you balance and manage your resources for each level is critical to staying alive as long as possible. Interestingly, the longer you stay alive the better you begin to learn your surroundings and the maps, making for better success with the right tools to aid in your progression.
Mentioned before, you will most certainly taste death, yet The Persistence has a thrilling way of forcing you to approach each new resurrection beginning with ever increasing methodical fervor. Taking advantage of your Super Sense ability gives way to fully planning out every approach of map traversal. With most enemy types having a travel pattern in how they survey their surroundings, players can oftentimes get a beat on the enemy for some satisfying stealth kills.
Many areas of The Persistence are dark allowing players to stay clear of detection and adding to this crouching behind objects will keep you busy. However, as you progress forward uncovering more mysteries simply hiding in the dark will not be enough to keep you alive. Eventually , and occasionally you will be forced to come out into the open and face multiple enemies head on. Again, if you have properly managed your inventory of what works you should be successful, discovering this however becomes the challenge.
The Persistence is an intense experience with an imposing mood, supported by ambient sounds of clanging metal with the occasional hollow absence of sound, then you will hear groaning sounds of mutated enemy types throughout each level, within dark shadowy settings, which challenge your courage. This affair while oftentimes intimidating and scary is feasible. Sure, you may not be as scared playing The Persistence in VR as say Resident Evil VII in VR, yet what Firesprite has on display here is easily the most memorable VR survival horror of the year.
With the whole of the game implemented with just the right amount of enjoyable play, balanced with an unnerving degree of emotional tension and straightforward narrative, The Persistence is one of the best games of the year and a sure standout VR title. You may not be singing it visual praises, however I am certain you will not care to much as the fun-factor here is consistently high for most of the ride.