ReCore has been a highly anticipated Xbox One release ever since its initial unveiling at E3. The game looked great, with a cinematic trailer that promised a mysterious and emotional journey. The big thing for many gamers though was who was making the game. Touting talent from Metroid Prime and Mega Man, ReCore looked like a surefire hit with some old school flavoring. The first few hours of the game deliver this quite easily, but unfortunately the longer you play the game, the more cracks form until the whole thing comes precariously close to falling apart.
In ReCore you star as Joule, a young woman who has awakened on the planet of Far Eden long after terraforming operations should have concluded. Something has gone wrong though, the planet is still a vast wasteland with storms raging across the surface. Meanwhile, the robots who were supposed to help transform the planet are instead trying to murder you. Your only allies are the few robots whose cores haven’t been corrupted, including your trusty friend Mack. Can you figure out what has gone wrong and fix it fast enough, or will your fellow settlers awake to a desolate planet and have to return to plague ravaged Earth.
This is ReCore
The story of ReCore is a bit less deep than it initially lets on. Playing through the main quest, you might have a decent idea of what’s going on in this world, but the real meat of the plot has been sequestered behind hidden audio logs. Even finding these doesn’t fully paint the picture though, and while ReCore does have an intriguing story behind all the run and gun action, those who were hoping for a richer experience will likely be let down.
ReCore has absurdly long load times no matter what activity triggers them
That’s actually the reaction that I had to most things within ReCore. The game has a solid base, but stacked on top of that is a rickety shack, rather than the gorgeous house we were all hoping for. And the biggest hole in that shack comes from the massive, almost ridiculous loading times that ReCore suffers from.
Clocking in at well over a minute for anything outside of just reloading from a death, ReCore has absurdly long load times no matter what activity triggers them. Hopefully these get fixed in a patch of some sort, but as the game stands currently, players will likely avoid the exploration that the game so meticulously directs them toward simply because they don’t want to suffer through another loading screen.
Outside of the loading issues, ReCore has some other technical problems that deserve a mention. The game looks good, especially for its budget price. However, there are times where that lowered quality does shine through. Especially when exploring some out of the way location, the game will begin looking muddier, and sort of like the area wasn’t meant to be seen, like you have glitched yourself out of the map. Overall the art styling is great, but it’s just not solid throughout, with Joule and her robot companions standing out as particularly high in quality. And while the framerate wasn’t atrocious, it definitely was not as solid as an action game like this demands.
Getting away from technical problems will paint a better picture for ReCore, as it draws some really great stuff from its Metroid and Mega Man roots. Being a 3D game, platforming could have been terrible. It’s not the best in the world, but the double jump and boost mechanics work well and lead to some gripping aerial action. It just really sucks when you miss a jump and don’t fall into a bottomless pit, because that means you get to navigate all the way back to the beginning of the jumping section to start all over again.
Exploring Far Eden is still a great time though, and there are some cool things to discover and adventure through. Dungeons play a key role in the gameplay, where you venture deep underground to fight some enemies, or navigate a treacherous maze. There are a few of these in the main questline, and a bunch of “optional” ones that you can get to on your own time. However, there does come a point in the main story where you will have to have completed some of these optional side dungeons to proceed. In fact, the roadblocks make very little sense, and feel like cheap padding to the runtime, with some very climactic moments leading to a locked door, if you haven’t been exploring the side quests to a great extent.
Combat is present throughout Far Eden, with enemies respawning any time you leave an area. Your rifle is your sole method of fighting against the robots (aside from your AI companions, which I’ll talk about later). This gun can change colors, giving it slightly different effects on enemies, but more importantly, allowing you to match up the color properly. Red enemies require red shots, blue require blue, and so on. This is pretty simple, but when multiple enemies are attacking you and you need to prioritize which is the biggest threat, it can become frantic.
Along with shooting enemies, you can steal their core, killing them instantly, while giving you more material to power up your companions. To do this, you need to get the Extraction bar above their health, either by sneaking up on them when it is already high, or shooting them enough to get it down. Of course, while you get extra material from this, it can take a while, and other enemies can hit you, so it’s a tactical move. Overall combat was fairly engaging, though nothing too special, with the biggest issues coming when enemies hit you just right to take you out in an instant. Combat overall should have been toned down a bit, and made less prominent to the game, that way it wouldn’t wear out its welcome before the credits roll.
But it’s not all bad and mediocre in ReCore, with the AI companions serving as fantastic characters. More could have certainly been done to work them into the story, and make you feel more attached. However, their overall cute design, and the way you are able to customize them however you wish will make you become attached quite easily. They are also useful throughout the game, both in combat, and through their unique exploration abilities.
Mack can sniff out hidden items, Seth can carry you across very Metroid-esque railways, and Duncan can smash things. Unfortunately, despite only having a few robots to choose from, and being able to switch between them with a button press, the decision was made to limit you to a squad of two at any one time. This means that, if you choose wrong, you might have to go back to your ship and backtrack a significant amount when you find that roadblock that the robot you left behind is able to clear.
ReCore had a ton of potential and sadly squandered a good portion of it. The game still has moments of glory, and pulls inspiration from a lot of great games of the past. It even has a very old school feel to it, with 3D platforming and combat that feels very classic, if unfortunately not delivering top of the line quality. Still, the first few hours are worth trying out, and perhaps the flaws won’t be as glaring for all players. The game has a good foundation, and maybe some patches will get it close, but it’d take a complete rework to truly live up to the expectations that were set long ago.
- Available On: Xbox One, PC
- Published By: Microsoft Studios
- Developed By: Comcept, Armature Studios
- Genre: Action-Adventure
- US Release Date: September 13th, 2016
- Reviewed On: Xbox One
- Quote: "ReCore had a ton of potential and sadly squandered a good portion of it. The game still has moments of glory, and pulls inspiration from a lot of great games of the past. It even has a very old school feel to it, with 3D platforming and combat that feels very classic, if unfortunately not delivering top of the line quality. Still, the first few hours are worth trying out, and perhaps the flaws won't be as glaring for all players. The game has a good foundation, and maybe some patches will get it close, but it'd take a complete rework to truly live up to the expectations that were set long ago."
- Interesting and enjoyable characters
- Engaging world
- Old school gameplay
- Abysmal loading times
- Assorted technical issues
- Roadblocks galore