Welcome to 2016’s wounded beast. This is a truly fantastic game, a triumph in some regards and true modern day classic. Yet, this potential is hidden away; buried beneath poor decisions, bugs and some surprisingly basic failings, the true genius of ReCore’s design is something you have to fight to enjoy.
Set in the distant future, humanity has abandoned Earth. Lost to disease and disaster, humankind instead turned their attention to a new world, Far Eden, hoping for a new beginning. One such colonist, Joule Adams, awakens on this world mysteriously alone and faced not with a verdant paradise but a sand blasted wasteland. Something has gone horribly wrong, and their future now lies in her quest for answers.
The game’s core mechanics are an odd mix of traditionalist ideas and modern concepts, blending together platformer and third-person-shooter aspects. At first glance the over the shoulder view, pacing, movement and general presentation makes it look as if you’re in for a Gears of War style experience. Then however, you get to everything else – Rather than sprint-rolls, you have an air dash, double jump and a number of Mega Man inspired moves. Rather than mix of assault rifles, rocket launchers and the like, you have a single rifle which can be recombined to take down specific foes. Rather than having a single drone which serves as little more than an excuse for escort missions, you have a variety of robotic allies. All of which can be used to gain scrap resources or even traverse levels, and rather than dropping ammo, enemies leave behind other robotic cores to further enhance these companions.
In many regards it’s very reminiscent of Metroid Prime – The core inspirations stem from the games of yesteryear, but it’s used as a skeleton to build more modern themes upon. An unsurprising turn given many of the same creators were involved. Many of the ideas are very original indeed, but no single one manages to truly nail what they were going for. While the multi-mode gun is certainly entertaining, the colour coded foes become more than a little tedious after a while. It’s less “the right tool for the right job” than severely limiting your arsenal in the face of certain enemies. Equally, the idea behind the robots and foes – or cores at the game calls them – is certainly quite inventive, but managing them is an undeniable chore late on in the game thanks to some oddities in the controls.
It also doesn’t help that ReCore is remarkably poorly optimised. With loading times which makes Bloodborne look speedy, dying and respawning is a chore at the best of times. You can be left waiting for minutes at a time for it to start up again, but even accepting that you’ll keep bumping into areas which are extremely rough around the edges. Crashes or abrupt freezing are hardly uncommon as you traverse the desert, and more than a few of the later battles turn into something of a chore in massed engagements, where the enemy AI goes from Sam Fisher to Baldrick levels of competence in a matter of seconds.
ReCore is ultimately something worth playing, but much like E.Y.E. Divine Cybermacy or many other experimental shooters you have to stomach a great deal of bad to get to the good. The talent and experience is on display here in the right places, but many ideas are extremely chunkily implemented and lack the fine polish to help them truly stand out. In its current state a full price purchase is definitely hard to justify, but it’s still well worth a look for the breath of fresh air.
RECORE / DEVELOPER: COMCEPT ARMATURE STUDIO / PUBLISHER: MICROSOFT STUDIOS / PLATFORM: PC, XBOX ONE / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW