Microsoft released their Xbox One and Windows 10 exclusive Recore which has been developed by Comcept and Armature Studios of which legendary producer Keiji Inafune is a part of. Having created Dead Rising and Lost Planet amongst other things there’s quite some expectation from this game and in all honesty it mostly succeeds. There’s a touch of Lost Planet about the game for sure as players assume the role of lone human Joule and her robotic side-kick Mack. Without going into specifics regarding the fall of the human race on the planet Far Eden the onus here is on , exploring, crafting, platforming and fast paced combat.
Starting with the combat, there’s some interesting ideas contained within most notably a colour coded system where more damage is inflicted from Joule’s singular assault rifle when a specific colour is selected to match the hue of the opponent. There’s three main colours for the Rifle and one neutral tone and by and large the execution is pretty neat especially when up against multiple opponents. The game is quite fair in this regard where you’re not massively punished for not choosing the correct colour in the heat of battle. Where the combat shines is the ability to extract the cores from the enemy once it’s suitably weakened. A mini-game of tug of war ensues as you wrestle the core from the robotic enemy (yes they are all mechanical foes in this game) all the while avoiding incoming fire from surrounding attackers. It’s a pleasant dance with death where you can decide to gather the cores resulting in a small risk to yourself – which ultimately can be used to upgrade your companion – or destroy the opposition entirely for scrap parts which again are used for upgrading. Your companions are also useful in battle offering their own attacks and special attacks by your command allowing for some decent combos. The combat is pretty polished and well satisfying although it has to be said the lock-on can be a bit fiddly and some of the enemies a little on the cheap side where off-screen attacks can take you out if you’re not careful. There’s a lot of dodging, jumping and shooting making it a visceral experience overall.
Adding another layer to the game with the robotic side-kicks who you gain as you progress the story introduces the crafting element. You begin with the dog-like Mack, but on your travels you’ll pick up the spider-like Seph and ape-like Duncan. You’re able to build up their stats from the collected cores as well as swap out parts by finding and researching blueprints. The crafting system is pretty neat here where all the junk you collect in the field can be combined to make parts of the robot sections such as heads, legs, torsos and weapons, which you then research for your metallic friends. You’re free to head on out into the open areas and collect as many parts as you see fit alongside any rarities you might discover along the way, although the environments do feel quite barren – perhaps deliberately so.
The Platforming is another area entirely where you’re tasked with collecting Prismatic cores as a way of progressing. There are dungeons to explore where you can find more of these if you beat them within a time limit, find a secret yellow item and shootout various coloured switches. Some dungeons have a set number of cores you need before they open up though which means collecting them is the main focus of the game. Whilst initially playing this way feels quite natural, towards the end you’re then forced to go back and collect any that you missed before you can move forwards with the story which feels a bit lacking and unimaginative.
Joule’s jumping and dashing is very accomplished and you’ll need to use her and the robots skills to enter hard to reach areas. Like the combat, it’s well realised and when you get to the latter portion of the game becomes quite puzzling at times. There’s some intense jumping sections to be mindful of although none are massively hard to overcome even if a few attempts are required.
Visually the game looks great on Windows 10 PC running smoothly with 60 frames per second in 1080p or even 4K if your GPU can handle it. There’s simple rock formation textures and over-saturated light from sandy exterior locales fused with metallic junk and structures. Interiors are more colourful with crystals and other natural formations – although there’s nothing organic here by design which is actually quite a welcome design choice. It’s not the most taxing game either at maximum resolution for a top end card to run at 4K 60 frames per second. However, there are numerous problems with graphical glitches galore and moments of falling through the scenery. On occasion your objective marker might also disappear leaving you fumbling about for with no pointer. It feels like the game could have done with a bit more polish before release and is pretty inexcusable for an in-house Microsoft game. There are also similar issues on the Xbox One alongside frame drops below the default 30 frames per second, but the biggest killer is the loading, with times that are sleep inducing to say the least. These aren’t a problem on PC though.
Audio is also of a high standard with good sound effects and an emotive score alongside some excellent interplay between Joule and her companions. You get a real sense that she believes them to be like actual animals in the way she addresses them which is quite touching maker her a likeable character even if she talks quite a lot – often unnecessarily.
In terms of longevity you can keep on searching for junk as long as it takes and replay dungeons as many times over offering plenty of hours playtime. Finding the cores can take some time too and if you’re a completionist then add some more hours into the mix. The main story is around 8 hours long and there’s room to keep going beyond this with a bonus dungeon and more stuff (which we won’t spoil here).
Recore is a likeable game and one that’s fun to play despite being a little frustrating at times. You’re encouraged to go back, level up some more before trying again in some instances but this doesn’t make up for some random or cheap deaths. There’s some excellent platforming and shooter mechanics here making for a well-crafted game where it counts. The visual style is also quite unique and with the choice of customizing your robotic side-kicks means there’s a game to keep you well entertained even if the last section of the story drags its feet and loses momentum. If you’re a fan of platforming action then this is well worth a look although be warned the technical issues (especially on Xbox One) can be quite impacting to the point of really interfering with one’s enjoyment. The PC version is a much better offering and with the game being part of Microsoft’s “Play Anywhere” is the recommended platform to play on if you’ve suitable hardware. It’s a shame the game has been released in its current state with glitches and bugs (despite its relatively low asking price) but you would do yourself a disservice if you turned your back on it because of those.
Review Code Supplied By Microsoft Xbox