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The Persistence review: Finally, PSVR gets the horror it deserves – if you can stick it out

Virtual reality seems built for horror: you literally cannot look away. And PSVR feels built for the horror game, allowing for depth and intensity of scares that would never be possible on a traditional screen.

The Persistence not only recognises that fact but has built an entire game around it. You are not only stuck inside of your headset, but also stuck inside of a ship filled with horrifying monsters, too – there's no escape in the real world or the virtual one.

The game's basic premise is that you are stuck on a spaceship, through which you have to travel. But there is an army of monstrous, zombie clones ready to stop you, forcing players to fight them off with a wide variety of weapons and new 3D printed bodies that await you when you die.

The sci-fi spin adds a new twist on the horror games available for the PSVR, as well as an interesting continuation of the kind of sci-fi survival stress so familiar to players of games like Mass Effect.

The actual mechanics of the game will be relatively familiar to anyone who's spent much time inside PSVR, and easy to pick up for anyone who hasn't. The controller does all the traditional stuff – attacking, hiding, and so on – and you can opt to move either by teleporting around to where you're looking or walking in the more traditional way.

Facebook is estimated to have more than 400 employees working on developing VR. Other companies known to have VR in development include Samsung, Sony, Microsoft, Amazon, Apple, and Google.

What sets The Persistence apart, and where it makes the case for being a VR game, is the way that it uses the overwhelming sense of fear throughout the game. The entire setup seems built to terrify you: small spaces, creepy enemies and no escape.

Sometimes, it can get a little much and the game deserves its title – it is almost like it is daring you to stick with it and persist. That's not just the unceasing, creepy, horrifying tone of the game – staying in that virtual world for too long can make you feel a little terrified and claustrophobic – but even the more traditional elements, which force you to keep battling through room after randomly-generated room in a format that can sometimes fluctuate between frustrating and boring.

It relies on a little bit of grinding, too, with plenty of different kinds of gear but plenty of work to actually get hold of them. Taken together, the game can sometimes feel a little like very terrifying hard work – but the fun of it thankfully makes up for all of that.

And at times, the visuals can unfortunately drop from gritty into grainy, with everything looking a little too dark and unclear. (This review was done with the bog-standard PS4, rather than the Pro, which does promise improved performance on the PSVR.)

Google Cardboard Was a Side Project. The Google Cardboard platform was developed by David Coz and Damien Henry. The two engineers developed the project as part of Google’s”innovation time off” program in which engineers are encouraged to spend 20 percent of their time working on projects that interest them. Thankfully, Google backed the project, and Google Cardboard is now one of the cornerstones of scalable virtual reality.

But that is more than made up for by the sheer intensity of the scares, as well as the ingenuity of the game's design and execution. Stick it out, and The Persistence could be one of the most intense games in your life.

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