Smart gaming premise drowns in simple graphics and frustrating mechanics.
You wake up alone on your spaceship; the only survivor besides you is the ship’s computer. Shortly thereafter you will find your own corpse. You are a clone, which is now the only hope of the ship to be repaired and thus get back to earth. You’re not the only one who’s cloned, the whole ship is filled with crazy, cloned people who do everything to kill you. Welcome to The Persistence.
When I saw the trailer, I felt, “wow, this feels a bit like playing the movie Event Horizon, aboard a ship full of dangers “. So when the review copy appeared on the editorial staff, I was a little anxious. My zeal, however, got a bit of an abrupt end – but first I can record what I still digged with The Persistence.
The premise of the game is based on clones and thus we have a smart game mechanics that actually explains how to die and resurrect, over and over again. It’s not that you play when you die but time goes on. In the end, your character becomes as frustrated as you become when you die over and over again. Another fun detail is that the ship is at a black hole and thus in some kind of constant flux, which results in the ship changing design every time you die. So you never play the exact same track (a very creative way to renew the roguelike genre with randomly generated tracks). It is important to keep track of the map. Then there are the usual ones: to collect a lot of things to upgrade your equipment and ask the replicator to create new gadgets that will help you on your mission. Further into the game you can also clone other people and then have a choice who you want to play to solve the task. Each person has their own unique skills that come in handy. So far everything is fine, but…
First, we have this little problem with the graphics. When I reviewed the six-year-old Alien: Isolation (when it was released to Switch), I was surprised by how good the graphics were at such an old game. So when I started the brand new The Persistence so I didn’t have a thought that it could see older out. The graphics feel stripped down and simple, it is not at all the detail you are used to seeing. The textures are angular and simple. Then the enemy you have worse AI than in Borderlands and when you hit them with your shield it does exactly the same animation, every time. They back away and turn their backs so you can shoot them in the neck with your Stem Cell weapons.
Upgrades in all honor, but it is frustratingly difficult at first to just run around with the launch weapon, which is not even a weapon really but a stem cell collector that acts as a weapon. I finally manage to get hold of a gun with a whole six bullets in it. When I die I drop it and then there is no more. Then you get to unlock a new one, but see it won’t happen until you’ve found drawings for the gun.
Changing the ship each time is a good idea in itself, but then it might have been in your place to avoid finding a new gun or other equipment every time (initially, before you unlock everything). Before that, it gets insanely frustrating.
In summary, so be it The Persistence a game with a smart premise but with a very mediocre execution. Therefore, the grade is still accepted, but no more.
Footnote: The Persistence supports VR on PS4 and PC, which may boost the gaming experience even further.