Abandon this ship

Title: The Persistence
Platform: Nintendo Switch, PC, PS4 and Xbox One (reviewed)
Developer: Firesprite
Publisher: Firesprite
Release date: Out Now
tl;dr: Lame Space
Price: £25 / $30
Family Focus: Click here for more information.

The Persistence first saw release as a VR game for PSVR in 2018. Fast forward to 2020 and the developer, Firesprite, released an update for PS4 which lets players play the game VR-less and by the same token gives players on Nintendo Switch, PC, and Xbox One a chance to experience the horrors of The Persistence.

Set in 2521, The Persistence has players aboard a doomed, stranded space colony starship. The malfunctioning vessel is overrun with a mutated crew and horrific aberrations. As security officer Zimri Eder, players are tasked to repair the ship and prevent it from being torn to pieces.

The Persistence is a first-person shooter/puzzler set in outer space. You roam around the ship trying to repair it and while, ideally, avoiding combat. Enemies are generic running zombies in various shapes and sizes. You do have a few weapons to defend yourself, you can even make guns from found parts, but they can run out of ammo quickly. Finding a workbench lets you re-build the gun so you can have additional ammo.

As you progress, you can also upgrade your gear and equipment at certain stations, which allows you to either sustain more damage or allow you to teleport longer. This ends up being very much beneficial as certain sequences can be frustrating.

The first problem is movement. First you walk at this incredibly slow pace where enemies are bound to easily catch up. You can’t run either. I’m sorry but if hordes of zombies are gunning for me, I would run. Not walk like a turtle. All you can do is teleport short distances to getaway, which is actually a nice touch as it adds a Portal-like feature to the game. Junk blocking your path? Just teleport to the other side. Sure, it can’t help you to bypass puzzles obviously, but mixed with the plethora of teleporting devices, it’s a nice combo to outrun enemies.

Another problem here is the combat. It feels clunky and almost unresponsive. You have to take a swing before being able to hit your enemy; which is fine, but it makes things mind-numbingly boring and repetitive as you can easily time each attack. You can create weapons like in Dead Space, which is great as it gives you a bit more chance to survive, but again, it feels clunky. And seeing as the left trigger is reserved to shield yourself, you can’t aim properly which makes this feel really archaic. Combat shows that the game was made for VR and very little adjustments have been made to adapt to more modern, traditional shooters.

Combat aside, my main problem with The Persistence is that it punishes gamers if they opt to use assistance mode. This is a big no-no. Not everyone can play “hardcore” games easily let alone have fun with them. If you enable Assist mode, the game disables the Achievements/Trophies. Some people just want to experience the story without the hassle and you punish them like that? It feels as though the studio’s kind of limiting its audience, as trophy/achievement hunters who just want to have fun might not give your game a look in. Additionally, this can hinder people with disabilities who want to play it. To make matters worse, the game goes through paragraph after paragraph of bullshit justification just so you feel bad wanting Assist mode…

If you accept the fact that you won’t earn trophies/achievements, the game’s main redeeming quality is that you can make yourself invincible allowing you to survive mindless waves of zombies and finishing it with your sanity in tact. But Assist mode doesn’t allow players be invincible. Why not just add an Easy mode and let players enjoy it?

The game looks fine. Nothing really stands out; it looks bland and dark. Thankfully, there are green icons peppered across the game to help players to either find their way or find helpful items. The soundtrack is a bit tense, ambient-like, although I found the Zombies screams to be annoying and nothing scary.

The Persistence had so much potential, yet it falls flat on its face thanks to confusing navigation, boring combat, and roguelike mechanics. This was built for VR from the ground up and it shows; limiting and hindering non-VR players’ experience. What could’ve been something to fill the Dead Space void ends up a boring stroll through space.

The Good

  • Great premise

The Bad

  • Clunky combat
  • Feels like it belittles players who use assist mode
  • Confusing navigation

Family Focus

The Persistence is rated M for Mature and PEGI 18 due to the presence of blood, gore, intense violence and strong language.

This review is based on a review copy of the game provided by the publisher