07/07/2021

๐Ÿš€ The Persistence : Enhanced | Review | PS5 | 5/10 | "Sucked into a Black Hole" ๐Ÿš€ @FirespriteGames #IndieGames #GameDev

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I found this review hard to write. Jumping into this game with no knowledge; I looked at the cover art - which appeared to represent a horror game  - and leapt at the chance to review it, but within thirty minutes of playing it, I realized it does something that I am really not keen on and I especially don’t enjoy it when horror games, in particular, do it.

Truthfully, If I was playing this game without intending to review it, I would have stopped after forty-five minutes and put it down as ‘just not my cup of tea’. Though I do enjoy occasionally trying out games that I would tend to avoid -  to see whether the game can win me over and possibly change my view - this game sadly didn’t and in fact, further cemented my thoughts.

So what is the mechanic in question? Well, it’s procedural generation – in this case, the procedurally generated rooms that change every time you die. Now, I’m not saying this is a bad mechanic; far from it, it just doesn’t create the type of tension that I enjoy.

I was always tense throughout the game but I find constant tension to feel a bit hollow. Knowing that I can never be caught off guard or be lulled into a false sense of security as well as never having a quiet moment to reflect/let the tension ease, just makes it less scary. I will use one of the most infamous video game jump scares to hopefully illustrate my point. 

In the first Resident Evil, you traverse an unassuming hallway several times and nothing happens, you must use it on multiple occasions to advance in the game. Then, whilst running through it yet again, multiple dogs smash through the windows. Now, this is a very memorable jump scare, because it’s the familiarity with the hallway that creates the surprise, you’re simply not expecting anything to happen.

In The Persistence, however, I never felt that for two reasons; it being procedurally generated means that anything could happen at any time and also, the moment you die - which happens a lot - means there are completely new hallways with completely new scares. Now, I understand why people would like this, but I like learning about my surroundings, knowing where is safe and finding ways to move around to avoid the enemies, knowing that if everything goes tits up - where I can run to calm everything down. When it changes each time, that is all stripped away. I may be in a minority and that’s fine, people can tell me I’m missing the point, as I’ve already said it's not that I think it's bad, it just doesn’t do anything for me.

There are things I really like about this game, the first of which is the story. You wake up on a ship called The Persistence to find all the crew are dead and the ship is heading towards a black hole. You have been cloned from the ships’ cloning machine and now must stop the ship’s deadly course. I think the clone idea is a cool way to explain dying and coming back and I also enjoyed the explanation that the enemies have come from the other cloning machine -which is malfunctioning - this is also a neat idea.

The customization in the game is also a highlight. You can customize your clone for upgrades such as health or melee damage and through the game, you will find machines that can make weapons for you, these are unlocked by picking up credits throughout your playthrough. the weapons are nicely varied, ranging from normal pistols to a weapon that allows you to teleport through enemies, cutting them down, there is a wide range on offer and they often play up the sci-fi elements.

Also, on the same scale of variety are the enemies, they range from the normal messed up clones to hulking brutes and enemies that can teleport etc. I enjoyed the combination of different enemy types and weapons when engaging in fights. Finally, a small touch that I really enjoyed was a moment in which I hid in a vent - feeling all smug that the enemy couldn’t follow me in and then the complete surprise when he crouched down, legged it in after me… and promptly dispatched me.

The graphics are not the games’ highlight, it really isn’t very pretty and when various enemies are on screen, the game slowed down and became janky. The corridors are also rather bland and most rooms looked identical.

The Persistence was originally released as a VR title and there are hangovers of those origins here, for instance having to look at items for a couple of seconds in order to pick them up. Being an enhanced edition, I would have thought they would have been changed and replaced with a more optimised system, it’s not a huge issue but it does take time to get used to.

In summary, The Persistence has a lot to like about it such as the story, weapons and enemies but I can’t get on board with some of the design choices.

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