Before there was Returnal, there was The Persistence. Being tethered to PlayStation VR at launch, Firesprite’s roguelite sci-fi survival horror never quite got the attention it deserved, but it was a well-executed marriage of genres. Set aboard an abandoned deep-space colony ship overrun by a mutated crew, you find yourself revived by the system’s AI as a series of “printed” bodies, with your ultimate goal being to restore the craft’s systems and prevent it from being ripped apart by a deadly black hole.
The narrative serves largely as justification for the gameplay loop, which sees you dying frequently and gradually upgrading your arsenal and abilities. Stem Cells can be violently extracted from foes and spent on persistent unlocks, making you increasingly more capable in combat and stealth as you progress. The gameplay is actually extremely well designed: should you get detected then you can use a shield to counter enemy attacks, creating an opening for you to strike.
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