I really wanted to like The Persistence. I have, over the last couple of months, returned to it repeatedly to try to get into it. It has all of the potential to be a great horror game, but try as I might, I couldn’t play it for more than short stretches. I guess there is something in a name after all, but despite my persistence, I never found the fun.
The Persistence Enhanced Edition is a first person horror game with rogue-lite elements. You play as a security officer doomed to die and be reborn by an AI that sees you as its only hope in saving your doomed colony ship. After death, you’re reborn as a clone. You can upgrade your character with currency you find through the levels, and you can also unlock an array weaponry and other gadgets to make each run a little easier as you go. It’s rare that games are daring with weaponry anymore, but The Persistence has an unconventional set of weapons, including those that unleash drones on enemies or allow you pick up enemies like you’re wielding an overcharged Gravity Gun.
As a roguelike, the ship’s configuration changes each time after you die, forcing you to make your way through anew after every failure. I honestly don’t remember if the fact that the interior layout of the ship is different each time is addressed, but even if it’s just “video game” logic, I can live with that. The environments are dark, and lend to some tense, immersive stealth gameplay. But it’s just so slow and clunky, especially on the PlayStation 5, that I had a hell of a time finding its long stealth sections fun. Part of the problem is the combat.
While The Persistence does an admirable job with weapon variety, I find combat itself to be cumbersome. Part of the reason might have been the platform. I played this entirely on PlayStation 5, and it has an auto-aim option that is strangely too strong, and frequently caused me to hit objects instead of enemies. I switched away from auto-aim, and that solved my problem a little—but everything in The Persistence feels slow, from the melee attacks to the movement.
I guess you can use the word “deliberate” instead of slow, because The Persistence isn’t meant to be a run and gun action game. Most of the time will be spent using stealth through darkened starship corridors, avoiding enemies instead of actively seeking them. Death can come quickly, especially to the careless. Different enemy types will react differently to you, with some being unable to see and attack only on sound, and others that will hide and actively hunt you, only to strike when your back is turned and you’re most vulnerable.
Sometimes, at its best moments, The Persistence reminds me heavily of System Shock 2, but most of the time it’s a slog. The Persistence has an interesting array of weaponry and gadgets to employ against enemies, but interesting combat implements don’t necessarily mean interesting combat. If you want an atmospheric sci-fi horror rogue-lite, The Persistence does a good enough job—just don’t expect a classic.
A PlayStation 5 key was provided to us for this review.
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