Perish review

by on February 1, 2023
Reviewed On
Release Date

February 2, 2023


Roguelikes have been around for some time now, but it’s only in the last decade or so where they seem to have captured the hearts of the masses, thanks in part to titles like Hades, Dead Cells, and The Binding of Isaac. With so much choice, it takes something special to make a new one stand out from the crowd, and while Perish might not do a lot different, the replayability loop and fascinating setting makes it well worth diving into, even if that means the inevitable deaths come knocking more frequently than I’d care to admit.

Playing as Amyetri, you must make your way through waves of enemies within the realm of Purgatory in the hopes of reaching the fabled halls of Elysium. It’s a straightforward premise that wastes no time in throwing you in at the deep end, slowly building your arsenal and gradually getting stronger until you’re ready to slay the tougher enemies and bosses. It’s a world filled with macabre and mystery, taking inspiration from a whole host of mythologies, and I loved the setting a lot. What really makes Perish fun, however, is the way it provides plenty of small goals for you to reach in order to become a force to be reckoned with.

You might not feel unstoppable in the beginning, especially as you start off with a broken sword and little else, but the more you get through each stage, new weapons, powers, buffs, and ability upgrades are unlocked. There’s a variety of melee and ranged weapons to acquire, such as a pistol, shotgun, bow, spear, and axe. The latter, known as the Labrys, was a gamechanger in the early stages because it gave me my first focus. Each weapon has a passive and active ability, and by completing certain tasks, you’ll be able to unlock them. Being able to throw the axe gave me a ranged option, and it helped to clear those creatures trying to slay me with magic from afar.

By completing special challenges called Orphic Rites, you’ll gain access to new consumables that can be thrown at enemies, Rings that might increase your health or improve the amount of Danake (Perish’s currency) picked up, and Crowns that might add elemental damage like lightning and poison when attacking. Having these challenges to complete not only give you additional support, but task you with approaching enemies differently by making you use your attacks in various ways. Mixing all of these objectives and playstyles together makes for a solid gameplay loop, and when you throw in each level’s sole objective and style, there’s something captivating about your journey to Elysium.

There’s a certain aspect of DOOM in Perish. The speed of combat and the relentless pursuit of foes provide an intense battle regardless of the enemies you face. You have your chosen weapon to deal damage, but you can also kick enemies into spikes or off cliffs, so the environment becomes a helping hand in the underworld. Each stage is designed differently, ranging from lava-fuelled caverns to golden temples, with the difficulty ramping up the further you progress. In one stage called the Pyristattos Ravine, I thought I might have been safe by jumping across high platforms raised over lakes of lava, but the enemies jumped across them in pursuit, giving me no time to catch my breath.

Objectives will change upon death, circling through a handful of them each time. One might need you to slay a powerful creature, then the next time you’ll need to locate a spirit and hunt it down before fending off waves of enemies. Each change comes with a challenge, and even after completing it, you need to then find the exit whilst fighting off more of Purgatory’s hellish individuals. It’s intense, rarely gives you a chance to take a moment to reflect and refocus, but I was more than happy to keep on fighting thanks to the strong combat loop. Once you complete an objective, you can pick one of three cards that will be with you until you die again. They can be anything from earning more Danake at the risk of losing your current purse, to providing you with a powerful buff like kicking enemies farther into the distance.

With every death in Perish, you retain the weapons, crowns, consumables, and rings you unlock, but your Danake will seriously deplete. This currency is vital to purchase unlocked items or to take on new Orphic Rites, so knowing when to quit is another aspect of your playthrough. Do you move on to the next area which will likely have tougher enemies or objectives, or do you return to Pantheon and purchase that shiny new thing you’ve had your eye on for a while? This risk and reward is just another layer to what Item42 has done to make its game more enticing.

Playing Perish alone can be tough, but joining up with friends offers new ways to play, and the ability to revive falling teammates. This new aspect to gameplay makes you think differently to how you approach every new area within Purgatory. Despite it being a tough game to master, and taking quite a bit of time until you really start to feel equipped to get further in, Perish is a solid entry into the roguelike genre, and its FPS elements are easy enough to get to grips with. The controls are tight, and given that the speed of each playthrough is turned up to eleven, you’re learning more with every death. In saying that, make sure you’re prepared for how much dying you’ll have to do, and if you can survive through that frustration, Perish is a rewarding experience.


Excellent combat loop
Plenty of ways to get stronger
Wonderful environments
Varied weapons and attacks


Takes a while to feel equipped to survive
Tough enemies
You'll die, a lot

Editor Rating
Our Score


In Short

Perish is a solid FPS roguelike with tons of replayability, often giving off a DOOM-vibe that pushes you to the limits of your own sanity.