Horror is already becoming a crowded genre in the new frontier of virtual reality. It’s a theoretically easy sell. The immersion and sense of presence offered by a VR headset makes it easier than ever before to terrify, unsettle and unnerve players looking for some horror gameplay.
It can take a lot to stand out, though. Enter The Persistence, which aims to bring a few of its own twists on the standard, first-person horror game in VR.
The game takes place on Humanity’s first faster-than-light starship. The ship has travelled to a faraway black hole for scientific research. Of course, the research goes wrong and a portion of the crew has been mutated into disfigured killing machines.
You take on the role of a crewmember who was still in stasis. The systems regulating the ship has woken you up to get you past the monsters, repair the ship and get back to Earth. You’ll need to sneak your way around the ship and make the necessary repairs. When you’re inevitably killed, you’ll then take on the role of the next crewmember brought out of stasis.
Death brings many changes to The Persistence. The layout of the ship changes, meaning you can’t rely on knowledge of a previous life to guide you through the game. Each character that wakes up will have a completely different role – you could end up with a member of the command crew, an engineer or a chef. Different characters will have different strengths and weaknesses.
You won’t be completely powerless in your journey through The Persistence. Weapons are a rarity, with ammunition extremely limited, but they can help you make vast progress. Each weapon will kill a monster in one hit. There are also STEM cells you can find, which offer boosts that persist between deaths:
“You can use [STEM cells] when you wake up in Medbay to either wake up a more advanced member of the crew, a member of the command crew or better. Or there’s a really cool, big machine that injects you and powers up your abilities forever. So instead of the weapons you get per life, STEM cells will actually make you better and stronger consistently.”
Perhaps the most intriguing feature of The Persistence, however, is the companion app. While one player navigates the horrors of the ship, their friends have access to a map of the ship on their smartphone, allowing other people to assist the player in the game…or not:
“On [the app] you can see the layout of the ship, but then you get to interact with the world as well. You can open doors, you can place distractors to move enemies around the level, you could freeze enemies that are attacking your friend.
Or, if you want to play the other way, you could drag loads of enemies just to kill your scaredy cat friends.”
With friends like mine, this sounds like a game I’d probably be better off playing solo.
The Persistence is coming exclusively to Playstation VR and currently doesn’t have a release date.