The Persistence is a sci-fi survival horror game about the worst printer error ever

The Persistence is a VR horror game released for the PlayStation 4 in 2018. It was well-received despite that rather specific hardware requirement, earning a very respectable 78 aggregate score on Metacritic. Later this year we'll be able to see what it's all about for ourselves, as a non-VR version is headed to Steam.

The Persistence takes place in the year 2521 aboard a disabled deep space colony ship that's been overrun by freaky horrors. You, the lone survivor, must get the ship up and running again, and then make your way back to Earth. You can take an offensive or defensive approach to staying alive—"use the environment to scope out, stalk and gain the tactical advantage in either evading or attempting to take them down"—as you explore the ship, gather resources and weapons, and upgrade and customize your suit and gear.

Hauling an infested colony ship back to Earth may not seem like the best idea ever—space zombie outbreaks rarely end well—but it turns out that all this trouble is the result of a really bad printer error. The advanced technology of the 26th century has enabled "clone printers," you see, which are apparently like 3D printers but for people. That's good, because every time you die, your consciousness is uploaded into a newly printed body, and you're back in action. But it's also very bad, because literally everyone else on the ship is stuck in some kind of galactic print spooler screwup, and so instead of coming out as regular people, they're being printed as twisted monstrosities. And they're really not happy about it.

The ship itself is suffering from the same issue. It has a "self-configuring macrostructure which can alter its internal architecture," for reasons that aren't entirely clear—self-repair or something, maybe—but the damn printer is so screwed up that it's just constantly spitting out walls and doors and whatever. Every time you wake up in a new body, the ship's internal layout has changed.

It's basically an explanation for roguelike revivification, like a Vita-Chamber with relatable technology headaches. In case there's any doubt, The Persistence is a serious survival-horror game: Graeme Ankers, co-founder of developer Firesprite Games, said that it's "designed to keep players on edge from start to finish," with procedurally-generated levels ensuring "you will never find safety or security in the same place."

Firesprite didn't detail how the game has been changed for non-VR operation, but if you have an Oculus Rift, HTC Vive, or Windows Mixed Reality headset, you can go the VR route on PC if you like. Pricing also hasn't been announced, but The Persistence is available for wishlisting on Steam and expected to be out this summer.

Andy Chalk

Andy has been gaming on PCs from the very beginning, starting as a youngster with text adventures and primitive action games on a cassette-based TRS80. From there he graduated to the glory days of Sierra Online adventures and Microprose sims, ran a local BBS, learned how to build PCs, and developed a longstanding love of RPGs, immersive sims, and shooters. He began writing videogame news in 2007 for The Escapist and somehow managed to avoid getting fired until 2014, when he joined the storied ranks of PC Gamer. He covers all aspects of the industry, from new game announcements and patch notes to legal disputes, Twitch beefs, esports, and Henry Cavill. Lots of Henry Cavill.