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Perish Review

Developed by just two people, PERISH is a roguelike that sees you step into the gladiator sandals of Amyetri, a damned soul in the unforgiving land of Purgatory, seeking escape to Elysium.  Your journey will see you unleash – and also face – a brutal onslaught of bullets and blades against monstrous hordes and gods along the way.  There are frequent chances to upgrade your abilities, weapons and armour to make the journey easier, but there’s a catch: every upgrade binds you closer to hell.  With that in mind, you can only ask yourself one question as you attempt to escape Purgatory: will you ascend or PERISH? Read our Perish review to find out what we think.

Face the horde

Anyone who has played a fast-paced FPS will be immediately familiar with the style of game that PERISH presents.  You will encounter hordes of foes, handle several weapons and experience a violent death repeatedly!  These encounters will all take place in randomly generated zones where the enemies, item drops and environmental variations are all drawn at random.  As such, no two playthroughs should be the same, with each experience being unique.

The story unfolds subtly through environmental details and cryptic voice messages.  You encounter some friendly NPCs who guide and assist you in order to help you become a better warrior and more skilled as you progress through the game.

Combat at the centre

Combat is at the very heart of PERISH and it is implemented very well indeed.  In short, the combat mechanics in PERISH are fast-paced and utterly brutal.  Each level sees you frantically switch between shotgun blasts, axe swings, sword swipes and strategic dodges in order to survive the constant, relentless onslaught.

There are hordes of randomly-generated, diverse enemies to battle against as well as challenging bosses.  Swinging heavy axes, swiping swords and shooting guns all feel great.  It is possible to wield an arsenal of weapons, each bringing its own benefit to the fight.

There is a deep ability system which enables you to improve the way you do things.  For example, you can traverse levels in different ways via the use of grappling hooks or teleports.  You can also enhance your abilities in the form of how you cause damage to your foes.  An example of this is the ability to increase your AOE (area of effect).  This means that if smashing a weapon into the ground causes damage to enemies within 1 metre by default, then increasing this area means that it will reach further and cause damage further away from you.

Death is permanent

Permadeath is also always hanging over you as you get deeper into different levels and battles.  Like most roguelike titles, upon death you will lose all progress and start from where you started previously.  You will retain your collected knowledge and upgrades, but everything else will be lost.  This certainly adds to the level of urgency when working your way through dozens of enemies.

Progression is vital in PERISH as you will not be able to get very far without improving several of your character’s statistics along the way.  You earn gold (referred to as Danake) from enemies that you defeat, which can then be banked upon returning to Pantheon.  From here, you can use said Danake at the altar located in Pantheon to purchase upgrades to all manner of things such as weapons and rings.

Levels are designed in a way that encourages movement – specifically agile movement.  This forces you to simultaneously implement and master both the skills that you have learnt along the way as well as the flow of combat.  As you proceed, enemies spawn more frequently and the type of enemy you encounter will often be stronger than the ones in the last level.  As such, you are on an ever-growing path of improvement as you battle your way through every level.

Bank your money

Upgrading things such as weapons, abilities, jewellery or something else in PERISH sometimes comes with sinister costs attached.  These sinister costs can present themselves in the form of corruption and sacrifice, loss of innocence or morality choices.

The early game sees you only being able to bank Danake that you accrue by returning to Pantheon.  This means that you can continue within a certain level or area for as long as you choose, but not returning to Pantheon to bank your Danake means that you run the risk of losing it all upon death.  You can later acquire an ability which allows you to automatically bank Danake as and when you acquire it, thus removing the need to keep returning to Pantheon.

Risk vs reward

As such, I often found myself returning to Pantheon after every single battle at one point because I didn’t want to risk losing what I had accrued.  The reward for playing on longer and further simply isn’t there, and it made more sense to return to Pantheon to bank my Danake every time than to continue.  It would have been nice to see a more rewarding experience offered for those who choose to play for longer and subsequently run the risk of losing everything before being able to bank it.  The risk-reward system could do with a rewrite as there is no incentive to keep playing and risking everything for seemingly no benefit whatsoever.  Perhaps something like an option to either return at a certain point or to continue for double Danake would have been the right way to go here in order to drive incentive.  Or perhaps unlock additional special weapons that can’t be purchased at the altar.

At the end of successful battles, you are presented with three ability cards to choose from.  These add a further dimension of strategy and depth to your character, enhancing the experience further.  Several cards become available, meaning that you can increase the size of your deck as you play, ultimately building a vast repertoire of additional abilities and perks.  These can be equipped in threes, meaning that the more cards you acquire, the more diverse your card loadout can be.

You can experiment with different abilities to see which ones best suit your particular playstyle, or you can even try something new in order to provide you with a different perspective to the particular challenge(s) that you face.

Good by yourself, great when together

PERISH is a great single-player experience, but truly shines when experienced with friends.  Up to three friends can join you and share your journey.  Having people working with you allows you to take a more strategic approach, which is something you can’t realistically do when playing solo.  It helps to balance the difficulty, making level attempts feel more achievable when things start to get hectic as you know that backup is always nearby!

Each player’s combination of traits and weapons – aka: their loadout – means that every person involved will bring a unique set of abilities and talents to the fight.

You’ll keep coming back

PERISH has plenty of replay value.  Not only is the multiplayer experience an incredibly fun one, but there are also multiple endings to be discovered.  Along with that, there are numerous abilities, weapons, rings and other goodies that you can unlock and experience along the way.  This means that you can approach specific levels in different ways to see which you find to be the best (even if they are randomly generated!).

The combination of roguelike elements, randomised levels, multiplayer and multiple endings all work together to ensure that you keep coming back for more!

Attention to detail

What is immediately apparent, even from the main menu screen, is how intricately detailed and utterly stunning PERISH looks.  The art direction is on another level to almost everything else out there and is something that I’m confident that the late, great H.R. Giger himself would be impressed with.  Somehow managing to successfully blend dark fantasy and retro FPS elements, PERISH has managed to create a highly distinct and unique style that looks amazing and sets it apart from the crowd in the best possible way.

The perfect type of audio for a fast-paced rogue-like FPS like PERISH would be high-energy heavy metal and that’s exactly what PERISH delivers!  There is something incredibly satisfying, possibly on a near-primal level, about listening to heavy metal during this type of game.  The powerful blast of electric guitars thrumming, drums slamming and vocalists growling furiously whilst you hack and slice through enemies’ bodies feels like the perfect marriage of incredible sound and stunning visuals!

Conclusion

PERISH is, without doubt, a highly unique FPS that draws inspiration from modern-day classics like DOOM 2016 and DOOM: Eternal.  With a near-frenetic soundtrack to fight along to, a vast array of weapons and abilities and hordes of monstrous enemies to conquer, PERISH is an absolute blast to play!  There can be times when the gameplay becomes repetitive and there is often a lack of incentive for certain aspects of the game.  However, fans of intense shooters and roguelike challenges are in for a treat and will not be disappointed!

Pros:

  • Vast selection of varied weapons.
  • Stunning visuals.
  • Awesome soundtrack.
  • Great atmosphere.
  • Satisfying combat.
  • Fast-paced action.
  • Random generation of enemies, item drops and environmental variations.

Cons:

  • Random generation sometimes creates crazy-difficult, almost unfair scenarios!
  • Can’t pause.
  • No clear set of objectives.
  • A map would be really helpful.
  • Gameplay gradually becomes repetitive.

Grade: 8

PERISH is currently available through Amazon Luna & GeForce Now. This review was made by Mus from PapaBear Gaming. You can check out his channel right here. You can follow him on Twitter by going here. That was it for our PERISH review.