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The Persistence Review (PS VR)

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The Persistence is definitely something new and fresh on the VR scene. It takes a classic FPS-styled game and fully realizes it into a VR game. There is no gimmick here such as automated trial movement or a mandatory teleportation system. You walk around as you would any other FPS game and it works. Persistence also challenges the norm by creating a roguelike experience for the first time in an FPS VR game and that is its shining glory. Sure, it feels like Dead Space in VR at times and at other times its map layout is simply unfair but for the most part, the game is a solid horror that I loved.

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You play as the only survivor trapped on a space station inhabited by zombie-like monsters. I would love to give you more than that but the true events of the Persistence is hidden under the game's deep lore system and to be honest, I was having way too much fun controlling my heart beat and creeping through the darkness trying to stay alive than to worry about how these creatures came to be. In a nutshell, every time you die by the hand of these extremely deadly things, you are created again in a new body thanks to some futuristic tech that can reprint your body. 

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Every time you head into the ship's darkness, your main goal is to try and gather as much "body tissue" as possible in order to augment new guns and abilities to make each trip easier on you. Body Tissue helps with skills such as stealth, health and other player perks which are permanent once unlocked. Stem Cells are also used to purchase weapons and grenades that you lose once you die. Once you unlocked them, however, they are there for you to buy whenever you come across another workshop. 

The mixture of FPS gameplay, the horror genre and the roguelike experience creates the perfect matchup of Dead Space meets Rogue Legacy and it works, very well. With a set goal to work towards, it may take you a few dozens tries to get there as the objective is always at the back of the map but along the way you gather items, buy new upgrades, fight a few zombies, die and try again with a whole new map, enemy placements and new and exciting ways to tackle your new life. 

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Each new attempt takes a few set rooms and randomly places them together and scatters the enemies around them. This means that you can never learn where to go other than opening the map and trying to figure it out. This makes dying a huge risk as you can lose everything you worked towards in an attempt to finally finish that level. There is a light at the end of the tunnel though as you can actually finish a level and move onto the next story objective that sees you take on a range of different, procedurally generated rooms with even harder enemies. 

This sense of direction kept me going through the game as I would have hated if it was just one perilous grind to nothing but Persistence does a great job at making you feel like you are growing every time you die and you learn a little more about the game and what to do and what not to do each time you fail. This is the main driving force behind death in a game as it should always teach you something and Persistence does a great job at this. 

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Combat is where the game gets tough as the enemies are deadly. We are talking about "two hits and your dead" deadly. You can take them on either being all sneaky like or use loud weapons which you could buy in the level. Sneaking up on enemies means you can take them down with stealth and drain their Stem Cells using a silent weapon. It feels great and while it sounds disgusting, it is the best way to get the currency so in a way it promotes being silent. 

Then you have the other guns which come with very limited ammo until you upgrade them but are a world of enjoyment to use. My favourite was the Gravity Gun that held an enemy in place and let me shake my head around to smash him against the wall and ceiling. It was hands down the most satisfying experience I have ever had with a VR headset on, ever. The revolver is a very powerful gun that can one-shot most enemies, and then there are other guns like the harpoon launcher that can pin multiple enemies into walls. 

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This is not DOOM though. You are given limited firepower and have to make do with what you have. You cannot simply walk into a room and shoot everyone up as you need to think about what is to come and take your current financial situation into account too. It also all depends on the enemy you are facing as some have deadlier abilities than others. The Bloodhound is a slow yet deadly zombie that tracks you down and you cannot hide away from it. You also cannot get close due to the electricity surrounding him. 

Most enemies will kill you either by hitting you to death or shooting you. Yes, some of them even have guns. It is all about being careful. The stress does set in though as these enemies make horrific sounds that will cause your very soul to tremble. At least you will know there is one around you though so there is always that. Often the game also throws you into the deep end with a relentless level layout that almost feels like end-game content but it is just the algorithm trolling you. 

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The VR aspect of The Persistence is also fantastic. I could play it for a good two hours at a time without feeling ill, big ups for that. The game is fully playable with the DualShock 4 and there is a wide range of comfort settings to help you stay motion sick free while you play the game. It is an addictive experience as you just want to keep trying in order to better your last attempt so be sure to optimize the screen and movement. Speaking of which, there is also a co-op mode that lets you play with someone else using a mobile app. The app lets you see the map and help the player find items or lead them to their death. 

The Persistence is without a doubt something unique that I never thought I would find myself completely engrossed by. It merges the great roguelike genre with a horror to make a VR game worth every cent. This would simply never work without VR so it is nice to see the combination happening to fully utilize the hardware's cool experience. It is a short game when you think about how quick you could finish the campaign but it will probably take you a few tries to master it all and survive the deadly challenges in each try. Have a PS VR headset? Love Horror games? This is the best one I have played in ages. 

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This review was conducted based on a review code sent to us by Sony.

Available On: PS VR| Reviewed On: PS4 Pro | Release Date: 24 July 2018 | RRPR469

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