With the last generation of consoles – Xbox One and PS4 – we had a whole bunch of HD remakes arrive right at the beginning of the consoles’ cycles. Developers would take their old games – mostly those from the PS3 or Xbox 360 timeline – and throw on a nice slap of sheen to the visuals, before putting them back on the market. The same is happening with the move to the next-gen of Xbox Series X|S and PS5 – it’s been less than a year since this generation of consoles launched and already we’ve been treated to a load of games boasting next-gen upgrades with Ray Traced visuals added and 4K support. The Persistence is one of those games jumping on the bandwagon, dropping onto Xbox Series X as The Persistence Enhanced.
The Persistence launched in 2020, taking its VR roots and amending things slightly to find a place on the normal console platforms. Since its release though a big hitter arrived with similar ideas on PS5; one that tackled the roguelike space genre brilliantly – Returnal. I’ll be honest, I’ve never really been much of a fan of the roguelike, not ever embracing the ‘die, die and die again’ nature. But I fell in love with Returnal. And I’ve started to have the same feelings for The Persistence Enhanced.
The Persistence is the name of the huge spaceship that you find yourself wandering around; floating in space. You find yourself next to a huge black hole that is ripping The Persistence apart, causing all sorts of trouble. You play someone who is already dead – Security Officer Zimri Elder – yet the rest of the crew are gone; dead or turned into something even more sinister. Due to the presence of the black hole, the cloning machine has brought back you, but also brought back mutated versions of all the crew members. To make matters worse it keeps rearranging the layout of the ship so every time you die and are recloned, the ship looks completely different. The story now involves you venturing through the vessel, trying in vain to get the ship back online.
Gameplay is all done in the first person as you walk and run around the ship at your leisure. To start, you have a sort of taser gun which also acts as a good melee weapon, and you’ll need it too, as you crouch to move stealthily around the ship and crawl through vent spaces to secretly reach other rooms. The main element of the game is to get to your objectives completed in a safe and ordered manner. What is stopping you though are all manner of crewmates turned into monsters. How do you deal with them?
Well, the best thing to do is avoid direct combat as much as you can, because to begin with it will inevitably lead to an early death. You can sneak up on a crew member if their back is turned, actioning a stealth attack, taking them out quietly. If an enemy spots you though, they will attack – it’s then up to you to take them down quickly or run… because a few hits from them will see your demise. You can defend yourself, but that’s always tricky as you need to get the timing right in order to survive.
As you wander around the spaceship you can pick up items, collecting stem cells and fabricator chips to use for upgrades and as a kind of currency. There are also health packs – much needed health packs – and tokens to use in the armory. It’s in the armory machines where you can unlock and purchase better weapons, extra skills like invisibility or more attacking power. Neatly, there are also different clone bodies that give you more of an advantage in the fight for survival. This all works great and is quite addictive as each time you die and come back to take in more of The Persistence, you’ll discover a bigger range of ways to defeat your foes.
With the move to the next-gen, The Persistence Enhanced looks a bit more glossy than before, even though it’s still working the same engine. There is Ray Tracing found in the lighting and some nice effects, but it still looks like a last-gen game in terms of the character animation and overall design. The audio is excellent though, with some great music. When you include the effects of a broken ship creaking, and noises emitting from every corner, The Persistence really does hype up the tension factor. Playing with headphones on ensures that every second is a tense one, and really does elevate the game to something absolutely brilliant.
For all the visual upgrades, The Persistence Enhanced is still found delivering the same roguelike experience, and that will be the defining point as to whether it attracts players, or puts them off. I wasn’t a fan of the genre initially, but through Returnal and now The Persistence Enhanced, there’s a new-found respect and fondness. It’s all helped by the visual enhancements and clarity so if you haven’t played The Persistence previously, now is as good a time as any, particularly if you are looking for something that is able to provide scenes of tension like that found in Alien: Isolation.
Return to The Persistence with The Persistence Enhanced on Xbox Series X|S – find it on the Xbox Store