Dark Light

Imagine you’re on the fence about a specific game. You ask a friend or even a stranger online if it’s any good. They reply with “it’s fun with friends”. This can mean a lot of things. It does not really answer your question, either. Even some of the most tedious and grueling tasks in the world can be made tolerable with a couple of buddies tagging along. But YMMV. Just because I found a mediocre game to be fun because I was goofing around with friends, doesn’t mean the same will apply to you. At the same time, there are also games that this phrase befits the best.

Perish, the 1-4 player FPS from ITEM42 that launched on 2nd February, is one such game. It’s by no means a mediocre game. In fact, there’s a lot to like about Perish. But at the same time, there are also lots of things wrong with it. Perish’s achievements stand out much like its flaws. It’s a game made by mostly two people, but you wouldn’t know that by the way the game presents itself. For one thing, the game looks pretty decent. The artwork is nice, there are lots of variety in the environments, there’s plenty of good music, weapons and enemies look well-designed and the boss fights are presented in an epic manner.

A for Effort

The narrative is mostly an afterthought when it comes to games like this. Yet, Perish really tries. The game is partly inspired by Greek and Roman mythos. You play as undead dudes stuck in Purgatory and have to fight your way to the fields of Elysium. There are also guns…so…yeah. There are plenty of lore thrown around in the form of codex entries, item descriptions, dialogues and more. You can really see the effort the team has put in to pull off a convincing setting. It’s not particularly engaging, but it’s there should you choose to engage in it. At the same time, you’re free to not pay attention to these at all and just focus on killing things.


The FPS side of the game, while basic is also pretty decent. Players can choose from a wide variety of melee and ranged weaponry ranging from basic swords and axes to a revolver, sniper, flamethrower and more. Each weapon comes with one active and one passive upgrade that must be unlocked by doing specific challenges. The melee combat is pretty underpowered when compared to the projectile weapons, but should be enough to get you through the game. (On a side note, what’s up with the slow movement speed? This is supposed to be a fast-paced shooter/slasher isn’t it?) You also get a set of throwing knives, a slot for power-up and the mighty ‘Dark Messiah’ kick. Introducing enemies to your mighty foot and watch them get impaled or fall down a cliff was fun 16 years ago and it’s still fun today.


Where’s the Payoff?

Perish is a Roguelite FPS that doesn’t fully do justice to either end of the spectrum. Perish will always start you in the base, where you’ll be able to swap weapons and items, as well as select challenges to pursue. Everything costs precious Danake. Danake is earned by killing enemies and completing objectives. But every time you die, you lose most of your Danake that is not in the bank. Pretty harsh for a game that’s supposed to incentivise you to return with better gear.

Every time you complete an objective, you get to select one of three tablets that modify your abilities, weapons and offer active/passive bonuses. These are basically the modifiers that either make or break a Roguelite. In Perish’s case, not all the tablets are equally interesting. There are stuff that you’d want and stuff that’s pretty useless. Abilities like having exploding daggers or the option to transfer the Danake on hand to bank triumph over tablets like leaving a poison trail behind you. Balancing is one of the major issues playing the game. There are builds that work and builds that doesn’t and a build that’s totally the recommended way to play.

Been There, Killed That

One other shortcoming of the game is the inability of the game to surprise the player. You always progress through the game in a predefined fashion. The only thing that changes are some of the objectives and the tablets you’re offered. Map layouts, enemy types, boss fights, all remain the same. The game would have more replayability if these stuff were randomized as well. Randomly generated maps would also have been a better choice. As it stands, you’re more likely to complete the game once (or twice if you want the true ending) and never picking it up again. Some randomizer options would go a long way.


Real Talk

Yet, despite all these complaints, the boys and I found ourselves playing the game non-stop until 3 in the morning. There’s something oddly satisfying in the gameplay loop that makes you return for more. Most of the game’s shortcomings can be easily fixed by patches and content updates. Speaking about patches, the fourth one just dropped as I was writing this review. The patch increases enemy spawns, made an enemy less spongy and introduced a slew of bugfixes. So yeah, I see Perish becoming a sleeper hit among the co-op crowd if this keeps up. Plus, the reasonable price-point is also a boon. But… I’m not sure if I can recommend the game at its current state wholeheartedly. There’s fun to be had with friends, but your mileage will vary significantly. A safe bet would be to keep an eye on this one.


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