Challenge is an interesting thing to court in game design. On the one hand, you’ll likely make friends with the kinds of people who will be aggressively committed to playing and enjoying your full experience. On the other hand, your game is mostly going to be played by masochistic sociopaths. Perish is not only a game that courts challenge, as so many rogue-lites do, but it also focuses on co-op to try and bring all of the insane people together in one convenient place and, ideally, pairs them off with each other.
What is Perish?
As we stated above, Perish is an FPS rogue-lite with a lot of influence from ancient Greece and Rome in terms of world design and theming. You control the lost spirit, Amyetri, and by you, I mean you and up to three friends all control copies of the same spirit. Your job is to make your way through trials to earn spiritual currency, called Nanake, and turn yourself into an all-powerful warrior who is capable of surviving the numerous trials that lie ahead of you by unlocking weapons, upgrading powers, and generally becoming unstoppable.
At its heart, Perish is a game intended for four players. It’s all over the game’s store page and featured in all of the trailers. It is inescapable that the game is based on the idea of having friends to play it with. Of course, that doesn’t mean that you can’t play it alone. There’s an offline single-player mode right on the home screen, so if you’re into an extra challenge and/or don’t have any friends, then you won't be left out in the cold, though you probably won't have quite as good of a time as you could have with other people.
Perish - Gameplay and Level Design
The gameplay is pretty simple to dissect. You have to make runs through randomly selected levels and complete the challenges within to unlock new weapons and accessors, as well as to progress through the storyline. Each run is filled with a handful of pre-selected levels that change depending on how far you get, but with each level seemingly drawing from a random pool of designs. This isn’t what I’d call procedural generation, with entire maps seemingly repeated exactly no matter how many times you find them.
Honestly, not using procedural generation is a nice touch. It was probably tempting to do so with the mechanic being so popular in indie circles these days. Personally, I find most procedural generation completely destroys good-level design, with it best being used as a tool to extend gameplay through additional modes rather than a mechanic to construct an entire game around. In this case, it does mean that after a while, you get used to the levels that you’re going to see. However, since they all feel like they were put together by human hands with intent rather than a computer with a basic set of generation instructions, it’s worth the trade-off.
Is Perish Trying to Be A Bit Like Dark Souls?
It feels a bit like Perish is trying to court the same audience as Dark Souls, and not just because of the challenge factor. You start the game with a broken sword, with a description that might as well be saying, “wouldn’t it be interesting for you to complete a broken sword run of this game and share it on the internet for your followers?!?!?.” There’s also the co-op nature of the game to a degree, but in most cases, Dark Souls multiplayer has more of a malicious spirit than the co-op featured here does.
Realistically, it’s just another 4-player shooter from a gameplay perspective. You can shoot or swing your weapon (depending on if it's ranged or melee), throw daggers, use consumables, and also seem to have the uncanny ability to dodge violently in any direction, regardless of your relationship to the ground. These are all mechanics you’ll be familiar with if you’ve played games like Vermintide or Left 4 Dead, and beyond some minor control variances, you’ll be in good hands playing this one if you already have some experience.
Perish - Issues
That said, there is a minor issue with the default controls of Perish that become annoying pretty quickly. There’s a kick move you’re supposed to be able to use to get some much-needed space from the enemies that swarm you, but it’s mapped to the V key on a keyboard and mouse by default. There’s nothing wrong with that, but this is a move that you’ll probably be using a fair amount, especially early on when it’s typically the fast way to take out an enemy by using ledges or spikes to do the heavy lifting for you.
That minor issue aside, realistically, Perish controls relatively well. It’s snappy enough and responsive, and it’s surprisingly easy to hit things with your throwing daggers. I guess the thing is that unless you’re into the aesthetic design or the game’s overall tone, then you’re not going to get that much out of this that you’ve not got before. It’s competently made and everything, but it doesn’t do much to differentiate itself from the numerous other 4-player co-op FPS titles that feature RPG elements.
Don't Dismiss Perish Out of Hand
Realistically, it might seem like Perish is a very standard sort of game, but although it has problems with repetition and doesn’t offer much new, the gameplay is solid and engaging, at least when you’re playing with multiple people. It changes the game from a dull, repetitive FPS grind-a-thon, into a fun social experience that is incredibly enjoyable. Cracking wise and being able to rely on more than one person is basically necessary to make some of the weapons a viable option. Whether or not it being fun with other people is enough to save the game in your eyes will depend on your situation.
On its own, with no other players, Perish doesn’t have much to draw you in. The art style is relatively unique, and there’s an interesting blend of themes and styles going on, so if you’re into this particular blend, that might be enough for you. There’s not a really strong narrative or sense of world-building, at least not one that is presented in an interesting way. You do pick up codex entries, and there are secrets to uncover, but on their own, they don’t provide much staying power. When all is said and done, this is a game that you’re going to have to enjoy playing with other people, or you’re not going to have a good time.
Perish Review | Final Verdict
Overall, Perish has a lot to offer the right kind of player. If you’re into co-op shooters, like the aesthetic and theme, or just enjoy a decent challenge, you’ll probably get a lot out of this game. If you’re looking for an experience that packs in lots of original content you can blitz through on your own, then this is certainly not for you. While it doesn’t really do much to make itself stand out, Perish is a fun time to have, and there’s plenty to do here if you can find a group willing to do it with you. Either that or you can replay very similar gameplay over and over again on your tod. Whatever floats your boat.
TechRaptor reviewed Perish on PC via Steam with a code provided by the developer.
- Responsive controls
- Plenty of secrets and codex entries to unlock
- A great co-op experience
- A bit repetitive, especially in single-player
- Doesn't have much to offer if you've already played a 4-player co-op FPS game before