PERISH describes itself as a stylish one to four-player FPS game. This sentence almost perfectly describes PERISH; it is, to its core, a cooperative shooter with fun music and repeatable levels. It does have aspects of a rogue-lite, but they are minimal. PERISH, as the title state, is a co-op game and a co-op game alone. It is the kind of game in which one plays with friends having fun as the game goes along.
PERISH manages to be a game which oscillates between being great to grading in different circumstances. Unlike most co-op experiences where one can play with two, three or four friends, PERISH is built explicitly around having more, about there to four players in the game at once rather than less. This distinction can make the game really fun to really frustrating. And before going into the game, I would advise waiting, as the game is very buggy.
PERISH launched on Steam on 2nd February 2023 for $20.
Story – Barebones and Pointless
The game has a pretty bare-bones story. We seem to be playing an undead warrior guided by a weird priestess and blah blah blah. I honestly couldn’t care much for the game’s story, just that we seem stuck in an endless loop where we keep coming back to the start. The story is barebones and honestly primarily non-existent. Almost all we get is through the voice of the priestess. This story is often lost while playing in Co-op and having fun. One can ask the NPC what is going on, but I never found the writing worth that part.
There are some collectables which are scattered around the levels. But to me, personally, they do feel out of place in the fast-paced and quite hectic gameplay as one runs through it. The story is the backdrop to the service of the gameplay. This is done sloppily, but it is good enough.
Gameplay – Fun and Janky
PERISH is all about its gameplay, and it is straightforward. At first, we spawn with a broken knife with nothing to upgrade. This is where the game throws the player into the main loop—the loop of playing, collecting stuff, upgrading and repeating. The session is started by going through a portal in the main room. There are levels which are denoted by each level with different objectives every time one replays the level. This starts out with a small room, and it does expand a lot later into massive levels.
Enemies spawn randomly throughout the encounter, and this is entirely different every time; they can even spawn behind the player. An objective is stated, and once done, the level dictates the players go to a safe room between levels. This objective is random, which is where the rogue-lite element kicks in. Enemies killed in a combat drop a currency that can be used to upgrade their abilities and guns.
Once the objective is complete, the team needs to leave room to an indicated safe room between levels, from which one can choose to continue with the risk or return to the main room. Once the objective is done, everyone in the team is offered a boost which re significant addition to the gameplay. These buffs are active only for that round. This can be as small as greater in-air control and stuff, but on the high ends, they can be really, really powerful. There is one which doubles the bullet damage after every dash Or one card which makes the enemies attack other enemies. All this is the main gameplay loop of the game. Play the levels till you have unlocked weapons. Buying these weapons along with upgrades till one gets stronger and stronger.
This is the core of the experience, and it is pretty solid. Weapons feel good to use and are unlocked after every new level you beat, but I do not see why they still need to be bought at the altar after unlocking them. But overall, the upgrades and the weapons are unlocked well, and one can feel the sense of getting better as the game moves along.
Weapons, Enemies and Combat
PERISH has three main aspects to his combat, melee, ranged and extras such as grenades & other passive abilities. The melee combat is what the game starts with. This can be hit or miss, literally. The melee combat is simple: a stab/hot attack and a block. With the broken sword at the start, I would actually not advise on blocks. So with melee weapons, some have a ranged attack by throwing some projectiles, but that is the exception, not the rule.
Along with the lag issues I have encountered personally, I would say stay away from melee weapons at all times. They are mostly ineffective, and as you can carry only one gun at a time, do not waste it on the melee option, as most enemies do not seem to handle that well. Funnily enough, the best melee weapon I found was my foot which I kicked the enemies as they got staggered and fell down.
But it is apparent that more and more guns are the main focus of the game. They are clunky but fun to use, unlocking these weapons. Guns all have secondary fires, which are very powerful and nuts. For example, the auto rifle’s secondary is a fantastic laser gun. Guns are a great counter; they feel fun even though they feel janky with how they ADS. It feels a bit clunky, but that can also be the lag. Players also have passive buffs called rings, out of which six can be applied at once. They do many things, such as increasing health, having a lighting bolt along to attack, making you stronger etc. Of course, there are grenades and throwing knives which come along with different effects, sometimes even dropping a drop shield.
So speaking about enemies, They are primarily short-ranged zombies like enemies who come up to you to hit at you, or they stay far and throw projectiles. These are two main types of enemies that the game provides, not counting the bosses. These run you, and with melee combat, they are hard to evade as these enemies can spawn anywhere.
The combat is not designed around a certain number of enemies but rather an unending number of them teleporting repeatedly. Some may spawn right behind you out of nowhere. This is honestly painful to deal with lesser players in the team. But it mostly works. On the other hand, the bosses are fun and feel really good to play against for the most part. They have fun attack patterns to follow and are responsive. A lot of the fun is, though, ruined by the lag.
Co-op and Objectives
I meant it when I stated that this is a strict three or four-player experience. This is a game which is designed in the fact that four players are playing it at once. I played it through all the possible player sizes and found that the game is frustrating and very irritating when playing alone or even with two players. With one player, you need to be careful. The enemies are fewer, and the objectives are more manageable, but the game has the same monotonous objectives and being alone, the player is fragile with no teammate to look out for the back. With three or four people, this clicks into place and is pretty damn fun.
The objectives and their scaling are very weird. For example, if there is an objective to collect sticks in a level with four people, it goes to collect four sticks now. But with even three people, it still is to collect four sticks and place them there. For more people in a few levels, minibosses respawn twice for more players. Most objectives are honestly very tedious and boring. These objectives are usually going and pressing buttons, defending a zone, carrying an object or escort mission. Most of them are dull and irritating and interrupt the combat, honestly, when it comes to carrying items, as one cannot shoot their guns during that. The bugs exacerbate all these issues.
Bugs and Matchmaking
PERISH is incredibly janky and buggy. There are many game bugs, such as being unable to walk and move, and the screen keeps alt-tabbing outside. The enemies, as mentioned, can spawn anywhere and clip through walls. I have encountered at least one crash for every play session I had. The lag and delay when playing with others are also pretty bad. I played with a group in which we all were in a private room, which was manageable. In the public rooms, I could not even press the button to progress the game.
But there is an option to go to matchmaking, aka public rooms, in case you do not have friends to play the game with. This is honestly horrible. There is no skill-based or level-based matchmaking. You can be halfway through the game and be matched with someone in their tutorial. The game can also match you up with people who are way ahead of you in levelling. So sometimes I skip the encounters, but most times, I am with people still playing the tutorial. This is honestly horrible and
Graphics & Sound
The game mostly looks okay, with some areas being stunning to look at. There are vistas, and the way the colours are laid out is really good and works with the style of the game. The character models can be stiff, but the backgrounds and the graphics are used well to state and represent the style the game is going for, which in case of point some purgatory, and it works most of the time.
The sound space of the game can honestly be a bit busy with all the music and the guns, but it s passable. The music was actually fun when I was playing alone as it was more audible, but with the various power-ups the players get, it gets completely drowned out. It is a metal kind of music and can be good when needed. But due to how the rest of the sounds overlap with each other, I barely heard it through that sound. With all these problems, the music and soundscape came off as busy and unremarkable overall.
The Key for PERISH was provided by StridePR and played on Steam.