Perish is the offspring of DOOM and Hades – Review – WGB

Perish is basically the weird love child of DOOM Eternal and Hades, combining the intense action and heavy-metal riffs of the former with the roguelike structure and mythological storytelling of the latter. But just like real-world genetics, just because you combine the best DNA possible does not mean you’re going to end up with something better than the sum of its parts. Perish isn’t even close to being as awesome as either of its parents, but if you take it out of the shadow of those two Titans it’s a decent budget roguelike shooter in its own right.

Perish has actually been out on PC since late last year. I missed it though, which is why I’m here reviewing its console release on Xbox and PlayStation hardware.

Progression is handled through a barebones roguelike structure where you die, hopefully get a permanent upgrade and then try again with the aim of making it a stage or two further this time. Every time you successfully complete an objective you’ll pick from a selection of cards offering boosts of power, perhaps adding fire damage to your throwing knives or making your kick attack extra powerful. Some cards are useful and synergise well with other cards or certain weapons, so the most successful runs typically happen because you lucked into the right choices. Other cards are clearly useless. Sadly, there’s only a small pool of these cards to pick from.

Available On: PC, Xbox, PlayStation
Reviewed On: PS5
Price: £15.99/$19.99
Developed By: Item 42
Published By: HandyGames

Review code provided by the publisher

Every enemy killed and every objective completed adds Danke to your bank account which you can then use to buy rings, crowns, new weapons and more that will aid in your next attempt. As tempting as it may be to constantly strive toward reaching the next area, sometimes its smarter to cut a run short by voluntarily heading back home. Doing so means you get to bank all the Danke you’ve collected rather than a sliver of it upon your gruesome demise. Then again, pushing for the next area means you might finally unlock a new melee or ranged weapon to try out, like a shotgun or a self-replicating spear.

Eventually, you unlock the ability to buy a couple of special crows that allow you to skip areas of the game so that you don’t have to replay them over and over. The downside is that you won’t get all of the cards, so you’ll be a bit weaker.

Combat is a mixture of guns and melee weapons, ranging from shotguns to broadswords. The first-person view, the thumping heavy metal soundtrack (which is awesome) and the often demonic-looking enemy designs give off DOOM vibes, but the feeling of the gunplay and slashing doesn’t manage to live up to it. The melee weapons are okay and are fairly fun to swing around, albeit a little imprecise which is something we see a lot in first-person melee combat. They feel a bit useless compared to the guns, though, because having the option to deal with enemies both up close and far away feels far more useful, especially against the ranged enemies that show up later. The guns have a decent sense of power to them and it’s fun to unload into the hapless foes, at least for a while. After the first couple of hours though, that sense of fun vanishes. It’s mostly because the enemies aren’t hugely interesting to fight: they run straight at you or hang back, and are easily duped by jumping and strafing, so deaths mostly happen due to sheer numbers or because you get sloppy.

Speaking of dying due to numbers, there is a significant difficulty spike that occurs about halfway through the game in a section that takes place in a massive forge. Not only are the enemies here far more durable, but they also spawn in far greater numbers and the combination makes for a nightmare section to fight through. Most of my time with Perish was spent just trying to get through this single area, and getting genuinely pissed off because I couldn’t do it. No new upgrades or other methods of progression popped up either, so it was a case of banging my head against the wall until eventually, I muddled through.

This surge in difficulty might be due to the game’s co-op feature. While you can tackle Perish alone, there’s also the option to hook up with three other people. Given how many foes spawn in the forge, I wonder if it’s a case of not being properly balanced for a solo player like myself. Regardless, taking a few other people along for the ride does make Perish a better experience, although nothing in the game is specifically built around co-op – there are no interesting mechanics, and only a few upgrades seem to focus on teamplay.

I say this is a basic roguelike simply because it lacks a lot of the variation that you’d expect from the genre. The levels themselves and their layouts are static, for example: in each run you’ll go through the same locations, with only the objectives themselves changing. Even those are drawn from a very small selection of possibilities though. Boss battles always occur at the same time too, and are always exactly the same each time you face them.

In a game where you are expected to die a lot and start from the beginning, I found the lack of variety in the levels and enemies to be a problem. Within just a few runs, it had begun to feel repetitive, whereas in the best roguelikes, the mixture of changing levels, weapons, skills, enemies, objectives and more can keep things interesting for far longer. Nor does the game build its story around its structure like Hades or Returnal do, giving you even less to look forward to upon death. Those games would cleverly use your inevitable demise as a way to further the story but Perish just dumps you back at a bland hub that contains two NPCs and a table where you buy upgrades.

Speaking of which, the story is at least somewhat interesting. Snippets are given at the start of each new level, although they repeat as well, and you can pick up supplemental plot details by gathering up collectables. Due to the design of Perish, it can mean you’ll often go a long time without any new story information, but the rich blend of Chinese, Greek, Christian and Roman mythologies is really cool. As a spirit trapped in purgatory, you need to battle through every level to perform the necessary rites to get to Elysium. See? Pretty cool, right?

Unfortunately, the PS5 version I got in for testing suffers from crashes. Over the 20 hours or so I spent with Perish, the game crashed around a dozen times. Thankfully, you do get the option to carry on from the last checkpoint, so I never lost progress entirely.

I honestly feel bad about not liking Perish more. It was made by just two developers (Bret and Regan Ware) based here in the UK, and while they did get some outside help almost everything was handled by the duo. When a small team like that pours their hard work and passion into a project, I think it’s natural to want to like it. But in the context of a review, I can’t let that fact influence me.

Perish is an interesting blend of mythologies that give it a distinctive look and feel. Unfortunately, in most other areas, the game struggles to find its footing. The devs describe Perish as a “subtle blend” of both roguelike and linear story campaign, but I think the game would have worked far better had they focused on one aspect or the other. The roguelike elements don’t add much to the experience, and the story elements feel like they’ve suffered by having development time taken away from them. Perhaps as a more focused linear singleplayer shooter, Perish could have been something special, using its fun blend of mythology to create a DOOM-esque shooter. Likewise, if the developers had drilled down on using the roguelike structure to its fullest, Perish could have been a banger.

Overall, Perish is a passable roguelike shooter made on a small budget. But it’s one I can only recommend to the most dedicated, hardcore fans who want to experience any new entry in the genre, and only after an update or two to fix the constant crashing on PS5.

Rating: 2.5 out of 5.

Originally posted by

Microsoft UK IE

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