Perish Review

Perish by developer ITEM42 and publisher HandyGamesPC (Steam) review written by Pierre-Yves alongside Richard and Robert with copies provided by the publisher.

Estimated Reading Time: 11 minutes

Question: Do you like fast paced first person shooters? Perhaps some fast paced hacking & slashing all while rocking out to some epic music? Maybe all of the above with a couple of friends? Then ITEM42 and HandyGames’ Perish is for you.

Perish at its core is a first person shooter hack & slash co-op based roguelike that will see you and up to three others attempting the trials of Purgatory in order to make it to Elysium. Starting off with nothing more than a broken sword that will not get you very far, you’re going to have to both take on the hordes of fearsome foes that lay ahead as well as the challenges that they guard.

Up front, I really enjoyed Perish. That said, Perish really is the type of experience that unless you’re THAT GOOD, should be done with at least one friend, potentially more. Having started off to get my bearings with Richard, we soon found out some of the differences single player vs co-op could have and just how brutal this adventure could be. And, we found out just how much time commitment was required if you wanted to get anywhere.

As fast paced as Perish may seem once things get moving, it does have a slow start. With a broken sword, zero currency known as danake, AND no upgrades, even the first two stages are tough as you’re learning the ropes and your limitations based off of your gear. Increasing this difficulty but in a good way, each stage that you have to face can present a different challenge on each run that you do. So while at one point you’ll know what to expect when the stage challenge is issued, in the beginning? It’s a mad rush to figure out what to do and how you’re supposed to even survive!

Starting off with the first room as an example, you’ll either have to survive an ambush, light four torches or take out a champion. Each of these scenarios will also affect the layout of the stage which is also a neat touch. Applying this principle to the rest of the stages that come after, Perish keeps you on your toes as while some scenarios are tough, others are damn right sadistic especially if you’re under geared regardless of the size of your party.

As you fight your way through these stages and complete scenarios though, you’ll be rewarded with danake for both enemies defeated as well as the completed scenarios. As this piles up, there’ll definitely be an increasing stress that settles in as if you fall in battle? You’ll lose roughly about two thirds meaning that whatever your plans for that money were? They are now long gone. So it’s a good thing that at the end of each stage you can as a party choose to either keep moving forwards, or, return to your hub with whatever has been accumulated in total.

Honestly? As much as I love a good challenge there were often times where even four or five stages in we decided to head back. It was worth more to us to be able to take everything that had been earned so that we could buy new upgrades to potentially let us move further. There’s no point in playing “the hero” if you’re going to be broke in this particular case. This aspect is really where the roguelike elements sink their teeth as it can often lead you to believe that “you’ve got this” and just one more stage should be good. But oftentimes? It’s anything but as there are several gameplay elements that stand between you and that next safety net.

Starting off with only three health bars, it doesn’t take long for those to disappear as each hit will remove one of them. Three hits? Game over. Upgrades do exist in order to add in more, however, regardless of the amount of hits you take, completing a stage and its challenges will only allow you to recover a single one of these bars. Took three out of four damage? You’ll be left with only two going into the next room. In solo play, this could lead to a game over. In co-op, you’ll lose two thirds of your danake and resurrect in the next safety room as long as your partners make it through. Adding insult to injury though, if you die AGAIN, you lose another two thirds of your danake… it’s cumulative.

So with all of that said, it’s in the core gameplay that will determine whether you succeed in the stages and their challenges. Set in a first person view, you can have either a melee or a ranged weapon once they are unlocked. In melee, you can swing and you can block. Blocking an attack will temporarily drop your guard allowing any other attack coming in right after to hit you. In ranged, you can shoot at your enemies and as a secondary element you can “scope” in for a better aim. But, you can’t block so your reaction time and spatial awareness become everything.

Regardless of if you’ve chosen to be melee or ranged though, the rest of the controls function the same. “E” to interact, which is a staple of PC gaming, will be important so it’s unfortunate that by default on a controller they mapped it to the same button as “dodge” which at least on a keyboard is “Shift”. For dodging, there’s no running and your dodge is set on a cooldown timer so it’s not unlimited. After that, you do have a separate melee attack under “V” that allows you to Sparta kick your enemies either away from you or into the various spiky things which is pretty much an instant kill for normal enemies. Finally, “F” is to throw auto replenishing daggers so even if you’ve gone the melee route you still have a ranged option.

Above all that, as a “let the gods be generous and merciful” coup de gras, there’s one more element that will hopefully make things super easy on you. Or at the very worst, leave you in the same situation without much reprieve. On the completion of every stage challenge, you are given the choice of one of three cards. These cards can contain upgrades such as making your throwing daggers cause fire damage and setting an enemy aflame. Blocking enemy attacks could cause them to take lightning damage. Normal attacks could poison. You can move around faster. Do more damage in the air. The list goes on.

The other types of cards that you can get are either to re-issue you another set of three cards, heal yourself completely, or remove being able to heal yourself after a stage is complete but gain health back on X amount of enemies defeated. You can also get the chance to bank your current danake safely away to not lose it, or, you could choose to give it all away and then double it if you make it through the next stage’s challenge. Where things get tricky is that these cards come up the second that the stage’s challenge has been completed and not once you’ve completed the stage itself. Slowing down time to a halt, once things speed back up, if you were going to get hit? You’re taking that hit that you may have not even known about. Poor Richard was the victim of that plenty of times, even causing him to fall in battle because of it.

Overall, this tends to work out great. There are adjustments between playing in single player versus co-op. Using that first stage as an example again, solo, you’ll face one champion, co-op, you’ll face a few. The enemy spawn rate is also adjusted from being in solo or in co-op. If there were to be a few complaints it would be the following. Whether playing solo or co-op, there’s often too many enemies to get the challenges completed without taking a hit. Hell, some of them in solo are downright impossible because of the mage type enemies that are not only ranged, also have predictive aim which means they’ll shoot towards where you’re going instead of where you are. Great once you know… but if you don’t? BAM, there’s several hit points that can disappear fairly quickly.

The other complaints come in both the form of PC performance and co-op interconnectivity. Starting off with my own PC issues, I should not have any, not with my machine. This said, I had screen tearing in which I couldn’t turn on the V-Sync as it was disabled. Changing from an ultrawide resolution down to a standard one didn’t help on either my monitor or by hooking my PC up to a TV. When you’re running a i9 @ 2.80 GHz with 32GB DDR4 Ram and a RTX 3080? None of this should be happening.

The other issue is playing with someone who’s internet may be unstable or less powerful than yours. I have a 1.5GB connection compared to Richard’s 100mb I believe. Maybe even less than that. Because of this though, Richard would often be getting lag spikes causing him to get hit or even disconnect from me mid match meaning that he would lose everything. After the experience Robert and I had in DarkTide with if you got disconnected you could reconnect to the existing session from the main menu, I think that could definitely help here. This would especially be the case if you were several stages in and have accumulated a fair amount of danake for your upgrades as to lose all of that rather sucks as stages can take some time to complete.


Perish was an interesting beast for me to play- it had a very retro-FPS feel to it and that hit all the right buttons for me at the time. What I wasn't prepared for, though, was just how painful Perish would be.


It's no secret here that I have terrible eyes but no matter what settings I chose, what contrast I'd set things to, Perish's harsh, golden "sharpness" caused some pretty significant eye strain. I'm not sure what it is exactly, but everything appears exceptionally sharp which in turn would lead to headaches after a short session (I could go about 2 hours before I felt like I had sand in my eyes).

What I was able to play was responsive, interesting, and had a control scheme that took me a minute to fully adapt to, though now that while playing other games, I think "if only I could set the keybindings up like Perish..." (in that there's a dash that happens rather than a typical sprint). If only I was able to play it for more than a short spell at a time- "


All that said though, ITEM42 and HandyGames’ Perish was a lot of fun. Yes it’s challenging and with that challenge it won’t be for everyone, but if you like fast paced first person shoots, hack & slashes or roguelikes? Perish is definitely something that you should look into and if you have others that you can bring along for the ride, the more the merrier!

Score: 8 / 10



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