Firesprite’s PS VR horror roguelike The Persistence is not only my favorite VR game to date, it’s now one of my favorite games of the entire PS4 generation. This forward-thinking VR shooter mashes up elements from Bioshock, Deus Ex, and Bloodborne in ways that left me gasping.
The appeal of a roguelike lies in its heightened stakes, the rush of knowing that each decision you make matters so much more. The Persistence elegantly weaves those tropes into its premise, and the game is far stronger for it.
Each time you die, you “print” a new body to carry on with your progress. Harvesting stem cells and DNA allows you to upgrade your future bodies with invisibility, enhanced melee attacks, and other survival perks that will in handy aboard the crippled spaceship The Persistence.
The game offers a smorgasbord of control schemes, each tuned to a specific type of VR player. VR veteran? Please proceed directly to full, uncompromised dual-analog stick FPS controls. Prone to VR motion discomfort? Choose the option that reduces camera movement. Not sure which to choose? Try the middle-of-the-road option. They all work great.
The Persistence packs a million little UI and UX touches that take advantage of PS VR’s featureset. To pick up an item, you simply stare at it. A brief animation plays, and now it’s in your inventory. It’s a small detail, but it always feels satisfying, and it solves the annoyance of having to hammer the X button to collect loot.
Shooting is a pleasure too, because you just move your head to align the targeting reticule. Ditto with swapping weapons: just hold R1 and glance at the gun you want to equip. This allows you to carry a lot of weapons and quickly decide what’s the best fit for any encounter. You constantly feel empowered, but challenged.
The game’s VR design is just the beginning. Firesprite procedurally-designed levels are vastly more convincing than any other I’ve encountered. Each run feels like a completely different experience, with weapon fabrication stations, enemies, items, hazards, and rooms sprinkled about in a way that feels entirely handcrafted, not generated by some soulless AI. There are even optional, random “event” rooms… but the less said there, the better.
It’s even a great stealth game, with a short-range teleporter and brutal melee mechanics that bring enjoyable twists to well-worn genre standards.
Add in a massive arsenal of exotic weapons and bizarre experimental gadgets (check out that Ivy Serum) and you’ve got one of the best horror sandbox games ever released. And it’s on PlayStation VR. What are you waiting for?
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