September 27, 2016

ReCore - Review

When ReCore was first announced, it seemed that it was a match made in heaven, the creator of Mega Man and the core team behind the Metroid Prime series, however not everything can blend together perfectly.

ReCore tells the story of Joule, a girl from Earth, but stuck on the planet of Far Eden, an earth like planet that was set to be terraformed to allow the population of earth a second chance. Due to the distance away, robots were set to get the planet ready, but something went very wrong and now the robots turned from their task and are now attempting to seize control. After being woken, Joule sets out to discover what went wrong and why no other humans are around, supported by her trusty corebot, Mack. The games story does require a significant investment into the strange at the beginning as the game does not provide explanation on some elements until you get further in the game.

Thankfully the gameplay does provide a reason to keep playing, thanks in part to the metroidvania style, areas that you can see early on, can only be accessed later as you get more gear. The bulk of what you need are called Prismatic Cores, giant orbs that contain multitudes of colour, as opposed to the single colours that your corebot or the enemy bots have. Gaining access to new areas or dungeons requires a certain number of those cores, so collecting them is important. As you progress through the story, you will collect the minimum number of the cores, but there more that you can find by exploring off the beaten path.

The core, no pun intended of the gameplay is based around colours, both in terms of the cores you collect, but also the weapons that you can use. Each of the robots that you fight has a colour associated with them, shooting them with a weapon of the same colour can apply some bonus damage, but if you shoot them with the colour that opposes them, you can do less. While in the singular fights, this is not really an issues, when you get to some of the boss fights, you will need to swap from one colour to the next, in order to take the boss down as fast as you can. This level of depth to the gameplay was not something that I expected to find, given that the game went radio silent since its unveiling, being surprised like this is a nice change.

The core bots that you can have with you, are also fun to discover their abilities, with Mack being my personal favourite and not just because he is a robot dog. Mack has the ability to dig for buried goodies, which can discover some fun items for you to use, which when you combine them with the material you collect can help you upgrade your corebots to keep them levelling with you. Each corebot has different levels of parts that you can change, keeping the bots capable of fighting against the stronger enemies as the game progresses. The system for upgrading them is pretty easy to use, you simply need to return to base and using the material you found, along with blueprints, craft a new component and then attach. There is no limit to the number of parts you can craft, but you can only have one type of part per bot, so keeping things well tracked will help you out. Joule can also level up, as you defeat enemies, you will earn xp, which in turn gives you more damage dealing options, but nothing to grand. In fact, in order to gain things like addition health, you need to collect power ups, which are hidden around the world, some require some fancy platforming to get, others, some fast times in the mini dungeons and so on.

The problem with the gameplay is it feels more 90’s than anything, but not in a fun way, each of the elements on their own can provide some fun times, but sadly, once they are mixed in together, things become just way too chaotic. In addition to that, the game features quite a number of bugs, resulting in falling through the world, clipping onto walls and such, which can make even the easiest looking platform section incredibly frustrating. Adding in some, outlandish loading times, the game becomes a chore more so than a joy, something no game should ever be.

Presentation wise, it comes off as a mixed bag, the environments do look nice, with enough variety for each to be their own, but with a thematic mix, to help keep the world feeling as one. Joule looks more like a tomb raider, more than a mechanic, but her look is consistent with the destroyed feel of the world, though sadly her voice betrays her actions, as she never sounds too frustrated or angry, given the destruction she is surrounded by. The level of detail in the world is impressive of course, but the game is sadly weighed down, by so much pop in, you would think that the game is randomly placing parts as you move above, with enemies, collectables and even random rocks and such appearing far too close to the player. The bots, both enemy and core sound similarly robotic enough, but also alien, that they do feel advanced, but the strange thing is even the subtitles for them are in an alien language, making most of what Joule says to be translating their words and given that the game provides you with audio logs from them, this is an odd choice.

ReCore is a game that feels more like it was designed from the indie scene, it had lofty goals, but never gets close to reaching them and while the grand ambition is welcomed, the boring gameplay and buggy nature of the game keep a big warning over the experience.

Thanks to Microsoft for supplying the game for review

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