Perish Review – Shooter Hell

Perish Review

It seems obvious, but while the scope, depth, and content of video games have radically changed over the past half-century, not every game needs to be complex. On occasion, at least, I’m totally down with mindless fun. Shooting, stabbing, and slicing monsters is sometimes all you need. If it’s with friends, even better. And if the game looks pretty good, well, icing on the cake. That brings us to Perish.

Mythological Yard Sale

Made by a small team developer, Perish is a first-person shooter roguelike for one to four players. It was first released in February 2023 for PC and has now arrived on consoles. For all intents and purposes, the console versions are identical.

Perish’s setting is a jumble of myths, monsters, and heroes from a grab bag of ancient cultures. Mostly Greek, there are pulls from Roman and Christian history as well. You play as an amyetri, a condemned spirit trying to escape Purgatory for an afterlife in Elysium. No offense to the devs, but Perish has one of those heavy metal stories that’s just fleshed out enough to give the action some sort of rationale. Put it this way: you’re a hero from a Christian-ish vision of the afterlife trying to get to Greek mythology heaven, fighting with pistols, swords, and shotguns. Totally makes sense.

But narrative isn’t exactly the point. Perish is about frenetic action, and that’s where it needs to stick the landing.

Gun’s A-Blazing

At its core, Perish is a first-person shooter/roguelike. You progress through a series of relatively short levels, each with progressively more difficult, randomized objectives. Along the way, you earn coin for killing enemies and pick up cards that unlock temporary special abilities or healing items. There are weapon templates hidden in chests. Once you unlock a weapon type, you can buy it back at the hub area. In between levels, there’s a safe zone where you can top off your health before heading into battle again.

Whichever of the game’s two campaigns you play, you’re expected to die along the way, which sends you back to the start. You keep whatever coin you earned for completing a level, but you lose whatever you earned in the current level. Starting with a broken sword, it takes a number of runs before you unlock the next, real weapon. The loop continues until the end of the campaign. There is no shortage of weapon types, though they certainly stray from the ancient myths vibe.

Unfortunately, and this is a big disappointment, none of the weapons feel very impactful or all that much fun to use. The melee weapons all share the same weird hitbox problem. Specifically, there’s no real sense of distance. You can hit an enemy from yards away using the broken stub of a sword. At least in the early levels of each run, it’s entirely possible to complete objectives with almost no combat at all, just running past enemies. Sure, you don’t earn anything. But at least you can move on. I’ll concede this is more of a problem playing solo.

Ancient Arts

Visually and artistically, Perish looks like a shinier version of classic old-school shooters, the Dooms and Serious Sams of the 90s and early 2000s. Purgatory is a pretty-looking mish-mash of ancient architecture and artistic motifs. Actual level design is simplistic, though. Big rooms, smaller rooms, and corridors. I’m guessing that in the midst of the “frantic action” you’re not supposed to notice or care. When the game does venture outside, a lot of the space is empty and meandering. The levels that feature some winding verticality are the most interesting, but the bar in Perish is pretty low.

Compared to most recent action games, enemies in Perish are as basic as they come and aside from the bosses or mini-bosses, the game re-uses the low-level enemies ad nauseum. Some of the bosses are imposing beasts pulled from world myths, but most of the trash mobs are mummies, lizard men, masked assassins, and skeletal warriors that have one setting: rush at the player, sword (or axe, or spear) flying. Frustratingly, enemies can spawn in behind the player, making it impossible to avoid being hit.

These kinds of games are nearly always accompanied by a metal soundtrack. Perish doesn’t flinch from tradition, underscoring the action with non-stop and utterly generic rock. The rest of the game’s sound design doesn’t impress, either. A lot of the gunshots sound like they were recorded in a toilet stall. The rest of the game’s combat sounds — when not occluded by the hard rawk score — rarely reflect the sound of the surfaces striking or being struck.


I guess I can imagine a group of friends spending a few moments — and even fewer brain cells — blasting through a few levels of Perish. I can’t conceive of a solo player doing anything but bouncing off the game’s repetitive and unsatisfying combat. Aside from some sharp visuals and a nonsensical blend of mythologies, Perish is just too rooted in outdated FPS tropes and bland design to spend much time with.

***PS5 code provided by the publisher for review***

The Good

  • Sharp visuals
  • Can be briefly fun in co-op

The Bad

  • Tired mechanics
  • Incoherent narrative
  • Frustrating design
  • Repetitive