So, I took a week holiday recently. Nothing too special, just took the kids to the seaside for a few days. Anyway, aside from my pre-written Raiders at 40 celebrations, I just unplugged from my blog and got some much-needed family time. Then I got back home, checked my emails and I had multiple games sent to me for review… Then I got a bit sick and really didn’t feel like doing much of anything. Basically, I’m well behind and there’s a lot of catching up to do this end. So the next few weeks will be a tad game review heavy as I get through all I have to. First up, I’m taking a look at The Persistence Enhanced from developer Fabrik Games, via publisher/developer Firesprite.
The first thing to cover, ‘enhanced’ why? Well, The Persistence was originally released back in 2018… In VR too, also not in VR. But it has recently had a bit of an upgrade. Tighter controls, performance improvements, better graphics and so on. It has been ‘enhanced’ for the latest gen of gaming, in a free upgrade if you already owned the game. But what’s it all about? Well, you play as a clone of a dead security officer who is on the doomed colony starship, The Persistence, where everyone on-board has died (everybody’s dead Dave). The ship has become severely damaged and inoperable due to it getting a bit too close to a black hole. On The Persistence, you’ll cross paths with all kinds of horrific aberrations, which you’ll need to deal with as you try to restore power to ship and get back to Earth. Well, that’s the basics of the plot anyway, but how does it play?
At first glance, The Persistence looks very much like a very typical FPS with a Sci-Fi setting and it plays very much like one too… At first. But first impressions can be deceiving. See, The Persistence isn’t just a FPS, it’s a rogue-lite game too. Now, I have a major soft spot for rogue-lite/like games and they really are on trend at the moment. Playing as a clone means that each time that you die (and you will… A lot), you respawn as a new clone. Also in typical rogue-fashion, the game will be procedurally generated. Each new restart after each death gives you an all-new ship layout to explore.
When you die, you do lose any weapons and gadgets you may have picked up previously. But this is a rogue-lite, so something has to carry over and that something is permanent upgrades. These upgrades allow you to improve your gear, but you first need to find the schematics for them. Then you have to use credits to unlock and upgrade those schematics. Then there’s the use of stem cells that you’ll also find, which can be used to alter your DNA and give you more personal upgrades, health, melee damage and the like. Really, upgrading it’s a bit more involved than just collecting upgrades and you really do have to work to no only get them, but also have them installed. So there is a great deal of looting going on too, from finding credits and stem cells just lying around, to then being in containers that need to be opened, to them being found on the bodies of your fallen enemies. Yup, this is a very loot searching heavy game.
You know how with pretty much all rogue-lite/like games that when the map does change, it’s not actually explained how or why? It just does because you are playing a rogue game. Well, The Persistence actually does have an in-game explanation worked into the story, and it’s a good one too that makes logical sense. I don’t want to spoil that here, but I will just say that (like playing as a clone being reprinted), actually having a reason why everything is randomised adds a layer to the game that most all other rogue-lites are missing. It really is quite refreshing.
To be honest, The Persistence isn’t a huge game at all. The ship only has four floors, each floor has a specific task for you have to complete. But of course, this is a rogue-lite, so those four floors will be packed with plenty of death opportunities, which does pad out the game a hell of a lot. So no, you won’t be flying through this in one sitting over a handful of hours. As is the nature of the rogue-lite sub-genre, death is a little baby step toward victory. Each new upgrade is a leg up that you will need to use if you want to see the end of the game. At times, The Persistence does feel very ‘grindy’ as you build up your upgrades to go further and further into the game. I mean, I died a good twenty-odd times before I began to make some serious progress. But hey, that is the very nature of the beast that is a rogue game. If you enjoy the sub-genre, then you know exactly what you’re getting into here.
Combat here is really quite varied. The game does start out with a slow and very steady pace. Opening up with you sneaking around the ship, using stealth to either avoid or to dispatch your enemies. But things do get more hectic later on and especially depending on which objective on which of the four floors you are trying to complete. You’ll go from sneaky-stealth action, to all-out blitzkrieg, dealing with brutes and hordes of enemies. Thankfully, there’s a multitude of weapons to use to help you out too. Guns, melee weapons, grenades, special enchantments and more, all of which can be upgraded as you progress.
Some remainders of when the game was a VR game are still here. Weapon and items selections, the upgrade stations and so on still feel very VR and can be a tad cumbersome to navigate with a pad playing it in non-VR. But really, that is pretty much the only niggle I have with The Persistence. I never played the original, non-enhanced version from a couple of years ago, so I have no idea how much better these enchantments are. But, I felt the game’s graphics were great, wonderfully dark and moody, they oozed atmosphere. The corridors and rooms of the ship are full of life, flickering lights, cracking electricity… And some bloody effective scares too.
For me, The Persistence Enhanced really is a beautifully crafted and well balanced rogue-lite game. It’s tough and you will die a hell of a lot for your first few hours of play. But when you begin to get to grips with what The Persistence offers, when you begin to get some upgrades and so on, progression becomes much more rewarding. A very intruding blend of a rogue-lite, FPS, survival-horror, Sci-fi game. And even if you do manage to clear all four floors, get the ship up and running to complete the game, there are some nice unlockables to extend your gameplay further too.
I do love a good rogue-lite title and The Persistence Enhanced most definitely is one. Dark, scary, intense and chock full of upgrades and weapons to play around with, a game that I am certain I will be returning to again and again for a good while yet. With a price tag of £24.99, there really is a lot of game here for your coin, highly recommended if you enjoy a tough but fair rogue-lite.