Right out the gate ReCore has the charm, characters, story, and gameplay that could launch it into the history books, but with so much good, it also has it’s fair share of bad. Brought to us by legendary game creators Keiji Inafune (MegaMan) and Joseph Staten (Halo), the title is like a tier-1 relic from a bygone era turned HD. Unfortunately, developers Comcept and Armature Studio probably needed a few more months with it, as it feels like they neglected to remedy the pacing and bugs before releasing.
The story is actually pretty cool. It’s simple, starts strong, and despite a massive chunk of time where nothing narratively happens, the 16-20+ hour game ends reasonably well. Earth has been ravaged by a deadly disease, and humanity has left for a new planet. As one of the first engineers sent to prepare our new home, Joule Adams has woken from a two hundred year cryo-sleep to discover something’s off.
What’s meant to be a terraformed utopia is actually a barren, desert wasteland, littered with debris, and filled with hostile Corebots - Welcome to Far Eden. Now by teaming up with a few mechanical friends of her own, it’s time to find out what’s going on, and see about making things right.
ReCore’s blend of fast-paced action and old-school platforming is a more than welcome addition to Microsoft’s library. That said, there are number of pacing and performance issues that truly hold it back. While platforming and dungeon designs are handled well, long load times, and the overall size of the map quickly become a nuisance due to the amount of backtracking that’s required to complete what-should-be-optional side quests.
Fortunately for some players, the up-to two minute long load times on the Xbox One can be easily remedied by taking advantage of Xbox Play Anywhere. Minutes are reduced to seconds when playing on even a modern mid-ranged Windows 10 PC - provided you purchased it digitally that is.
Gameplay is an area where ReCore shines. The game’s combat is simple but rewarding due to the strategic nature of balancing special attack cooldowns, rock-paper-scissors style colour coded attacks, and by choosing the best available companion to handle the current threat. In between all this balancing, dodging enemy fire can get pretty crazy, but it’s fun. There were more than a few times where I felt like a badass, especially in the later stages.
The game’s take on platforming is also quite the delight. At first glance there are some trials that seem overwhelming, especially as you begin to move into the final stages of the game, but as you gain new companions, and learn how best to navigate the environment, you soon find yourself moving through the well designed stages with ease. Going back to retry traversal dungeons, or attempt to access previously inaccessible areas suddenly becomes a breeze thanks to the many hours of double jumping, boosting around the map, and learning how best to use your allies’ abilities.
When I died, whether it be during a traversal challenge or in the heat of battle, the game felt fair. I knew I died because it was my own fault. The camera did freak out a few times and make it so I didn’t know what was going on, but it doesn’t last long, and it’s easy enough to get your bearings again. Another thing to be thankful for is the quick load times after dying. The really long ones tend to be saved for loading the zones and dungeons from scratch.
The robotic enemies come in a variety of forms; from flying worms and bugs, to wolves, tanks, and gorilla-type beasts. Each has their own body and core tactics as well. For example, the wolf-like corebots will try and get close to you, sometimes doing a deadly dash. This is combined with the power of their core; blue cores give them a stunning attack, yellow cores will slow you down, and red cores will burn you. Based on the frame and core, some foes also have ranged attack too, like throwing out an expanding burst of coloured fire.
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