The action-platformer ReCore has just been released for the Xbox One and PC to much pre-launch hype. (I mean, seriously, check out this amazing E3 trailer.) Unfortunately, now that reviewers have spent time with the game, things aren't looking so rosy.
In ReCore, you play Joule who wakes out of her cryosleep on a planet halfway through being terraformed to discover things have gone terribly wrong. The robots designed to do the job have run murderously amok and now you must put them down, salvaging their parts to build your own mechanical army to help solve the mystery of the planetary mission gone awry.
But is ReCore any good? Or has it gone just as awry as its planet? I'll look at the praise and criticism of various reviews and let you decide. (All reviews cited are listed at the bottom of this article.)
Fast and Furious Color-based Combat
Combat is third-person shooter based. Enemies come in different colors and if you change your weapon type to the corresponding color you'll do more damage. When the enemy health gets low, you can snatch their core in a tug-of-war minigame or destroy it to trigger an explosion that damages nearby enemies.
Reviewers were mostly complimentary of the combat system. Polygon in particular enjoyed how it was implemented:
ReCore channels early ‘00s Japanese action games in a way that feels hard to resist. It’s colorful and fast and remarkably fluid, and it feels like instinctive, constant decision-making without getting too bogged down in weapon types.
Old School Jumping Fun
The platforming aspect is about exploring the open world in search fore more power cores necessary to unlock access to deeper areas of the game. Destructoid was a fan of this core gameplay mechanic:
The platforming is one of ReCore's brightest-shining mechanics. At all times, Joule has a double jump and a forward dash. Despite covering long distances and leaping to moving targets, Joule is always fantastically easy to control.
Dungeons Provide Diverse Opportunities to Use Those Core Mechanics
These two mechanics come together in different arenas and dungeons that Joule must explore in her hunt for cores and the truth behind what's really going on. This makes up the bulk of the first 8 hours or so of gameplay. GameSpot appreciated the design of this:
I particularly enjoyed that dungeons come in a variety of flavors - there are arena dungeons that challenge you to kill waves of enemies and a boss, platforming dungeons that test your skills at maneuvering Joule, and maze-like dungeons that need you to solve puzzles so you can unlock the path to the exit.
Mechanics Are Skin-Deep and We Lack a Sense of Progress
Unfortunately, it becomes apparent that the jumping and shooting is really all there is to the game so the designers threw in a bunch of roadblocks to artificially extend gameplay. There isn't much of a sense of progress. The creatures get stronger, but so does Joule. Every section takes more cores to unlock which means a longer and longer collection grind with cores being harder and harder to find.
What started as a fun action-platformer quickly becomes a boring tedious and repetitive slog designed to make the game last longer instead of being more fun and challenging. PC World explained it thus:
[ReCore's gameplay is a] needless chore, with gates so artificial it ruins what’s otherwise a lovingly crafted universe. Go here, fetch a random collectible—that’s not enough nowadays, and especially not when the game doesn’t even bother to dress it up with a hint of motive.
Glitches, Crashes, Long Loading Times
On top of all that, there are many complaints of long loading screens. From 30 seconds on the PC version to 3 minutes (!!) on the Xbox One version. Given how many times you change areas in the game, you will be spending a great deal of time staring at the loading screen which makes this long waits unacceptable.
There are also numerous unresolved bugs reported by many reviewers. Falling through the world, being stuck in combat, waymarkers on the map leading to the wrong place just to name a few. Videos of glitches have been making their way onto social media as well.
The Final Verdict
GameSpot summed up the missed opportunity that is ReCore when they said:
"ReCore's missteps are a real shame, because it can be quite charming otherwise. It has the heart of a PS2 or Gamecube-era platformer, with its floating lifebars, bright laser beams that fill the screen like a Dreamcast shoot-'em-up, and glowing gems that bounce around. Amongst all the slick, modern day video game productions, it stands out as an endearing throwback."
If you are part of that gaming niche that really waxes nostalgic for the tight platforming and frantic shoot-em-up gunplay of the early 2000s, you might find a lot to love in ReCore. If you find yourself outside of that niche, however, the game might not be for you.
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