Games: The Persistence a heady brew of blasting, stealth and survival horror

Firesprite's new VR space horror The Persistence – screamingly good
Neil McGreevy

The Persistence (PSVR)

By: Firesprite

ALIEN famously warned us that in space, no-one can hear you scream (then lashed our lugholes with two hours of screaming in Dolby surround sound). Playing Persistence, though, the neighbours certainly will.

Doffing its space helmet to flicks like Alien and, erm, Event Horizon, the PS4's latest virtual reality shocker plays out like a first-person Dead Space. A spaceship-set scare-machine that, through the PS4's VR wizardry, uses technology that Ridley Scott could only have dreamed of in 1979, players are stuffed into the space boots of security officer Zimri Eder, sole survivor of the Persistence, a hulking starship run amok with mutants most stinking. In between polluting their britches with fear, players must repair the ship and coax it back to Earth's bosom.

Developed by Liverpool's Firesprite, the scouse shock-jockeys have delivered the latest bona fide reason to don PlayStation's magical VR hat with some horror hoo-ha that uses randomly generated levels for a unique experience each time you take a dirt nap. When Zimri carks it he simply reprints a new clone of his own while the ship's deck literally gets reshuffled, with design, item placement and enemies never the same twice.

You'll journey through the ship's bowels as your own journey out of you, and while it can be a grind to get your character fighting fit – clones are augmented with new abilities by using collected stem cells – you'll soon be a one-man mutant-killing machine.

Fabrication stations let Zimri splash tokens and chips on new gear, with a fertile arsenal just waiting to be hatched, ranging from handguns to lances, harpoons and the Grav Hook, which lets players bludgeon enemies off the ship's walls.

Virtual reality brings oodles to the party, with a smooth DualShock interface for movement, an intuitive targeting system and plenty of comfort options to keep the chunder moored to the guts of sensitive souls. And while its visuals are generally top-drawer, VR's grainy shroud hangs over the action, as though playing through early stage cataracts.

The game's most novel feature lets up to three others use a smartphone app alongside the eejit in the headset. Your apped-up accomplices can interact with the map, tagging enemies, opening doors and squirrelling out threats, though bigger rewards come from playing the git and chucking virtual spanners in the works.

A heady brew of blasting, stealth and survival horror, The Persistence mixes outer-space sci-fi scares with the addictive loop of roguelikes, with pants-destroying horrors lurking around every corner.

And while most VR games don't love you long time, Persistence's 10-hour space jam ensures plenty of bang for your space buck.

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