I’ll come right out say that ReCore is rough around the edges and could have used more development time to turn this new series into something special. The general idea of the game is interesting and very reminiscent of third person action-platformers abundant on the PlayStation 2 years ago. The characters have a lot of charm, the world is imaginative and mysterious, and the sense of adventure is prominent from the start. Unfortunately, what we received is a game that fails to live up to many of the expectations it attempts to build early on. Much like the robotic companions that make up the cast, ReCore has a solid, sometimes brilliant foundation surrounded by rusty, janky pieces that don’t quite fit together.
A collaboration between Keiji Inafune (the co-creator of Mega Man), his studio Comcept, and Armature Studio (made up of former Metroid Prime developers), ReCore is a story of a scavenger and her robot companions trying to figure out the mysteries of a far off planet dubbed Far Eden. You play as Joule Adams, a volunteer for the Far Eden project who awakes from cryogenic sleep to find that her mission has hit a few roadblocks. Joule is accompanied by her robotic Corebot, Mack, who resembles a dog in both appearance and personality. The two eventually meet other companions including Seth, a shy spider bot, and Duncan, a large and powerful gorilla bot. These CoreBots exude quite a bit of personality in their interactions with Joule and are easily one of the game’s strongest points. As a team, you will set out into the wastelands of Far Eden to explore, jump, dash, and shoot your way through the open world and smaller, more linear dungeons. Well, that’s the general impression at the outset at least. We’ll get to that a bit later.
ReCore borrows elements from quite a few classic game series including Mega Man, Metroid, and even a sprinkle of Zelda. Joule’s main mode of traversal is a pair of thruster boots which allow you to dash a good distance before needing to recharge. The boots also allow you to perform an air dash and double jump. Far Eden has a good bit of verticality and a lot of pitfalls, so mastering these traversal techniques is very much required to get anywhere. Your Corebots can also perform special skills used while exploring the world. Mack can dig up hidden objects from the ground, Seth is an awesome climber and can traverse special tracks to get you to higher ground, and Duncan can smash larger objects that may activate switches or hide valuable treasure. Combat is enjoyable, if a bit repetitive. Joule carries a rapid firing laser rifle that can also release a more powerful charge shot capable of damaging multiple enemies and destroying shields. In Metroid Prime fashion, aiming is largely handled by a simple lock on mechanic, so don’t worry if you’re not great with lining up shots. Your Corebots will also help fight automatically. The Corebots have their own special attacks, called Lethals, you can command them to unleash if they have the energy for it. Enemies can become bullet sponges depending on your level differences, so I highly recommend using your full arsenal anytime you can.
Joule’s rifle will automatically level up as you collect experience points, but she can also power up her Corebots by finding special blueprints and building new components for their frames or by injecting energy into their cores. This requires materials collected from a mixture of scrap from defeated foes, or the actual cores which can be extracted during combat by playing a little tug of war mini game with the right analog stick. Some of the bigger enemies and most bosses can only be defeated by extracting their cores, but smaller foes can be more quickly dispatched by matching the color of your shots (once you obtain the respective color augment for your weapon) with the color of the enemy’s core. It’s a fairly simple system that takes no time to get used to, which is a good thing since you will be engaging in combat often. There is quite a bit of open world to explore and a good amount of treasures to find such as supply chests and the elusive Prismatic Cores, most of it guarded by powerful foes or traversal challenges. The dungeons of ReCore are largely standalone areas that may ask you to simply work your way through for story purposes, traverse the dungeon in a certain amount of time, or fight waves of corrupted Corebots in an arena like setting. They’re a nice change of pace from the open world sections and a prime location for collecting the optional Prismatic Cores.
Oh I’m sorry, did I say optional? I meant to say largely required. On paper, the game sounds like a great time but in practice ReCore begins to rust and fall apart. The majority of the gameplay is as I just explained but for some unknown reason, the direction completely changes once you reach a certain area. This area is largely made up of complex platforming challenges much more difficult than any seen prior and essentially becomes the main focus of the game from that point forward. If that isn’t jarring enough, you are then told you must go back and collect a large number of Prismatic Cores to progress any further. The side content then becomes required grinding to finish the game.
On top of that glaring issue, ReCore is a technical mess with extremely long loading times on the Xbox One (the PC version loads much faster) averaging anywhere from 30 seconds to two minutes upon death by losing your health, yet falling off a cliff will result in a three second load. This became extremely frustrating after dying for the fifth time during one particularly annoying difficulty spike. It doesn’t help that the camera struggles to give you a good vantage point during fights with a large number of foes, resulting in plenty of off screen attacks dropping in to say “hello” followed shortly by “goodbye”. On multiple occasions, I could not finish a dungeon objective due to bugs including two instances of being trapped in a room with doors that refused to open upon clearing the objectives. One hilarious scenario had Joule running around with no animation like some sort of psychic laser firing mannequin. I even fell through the geometry a few times to my death and inexplicably speedy resurrection. In short, ReCore has a lot of technical problems that can quickly quell the short moments of brilliance it occasionally shows.
It’s unfortunate we received this game in its current condition. Far Eden is the kind of world I would have loved to explore in more depth (at my own leisure), I really liked the characters and their interactions with the world and each other, and the gameplay took me back to a time I had almost forgotten. I’m typically very forgiving of a game’s flaws since I understand how difficult they are to create, but can’t help but be disappointed given the pedigree of the developers involved and the problems that still remain in the current build. If you’re interested in giving ReCore a chance, I would suggest waiting for a few patches, a price drop, or playing the PC version to alleviate some of the issues. This game had a lot of potential, but should have stayed in the oven a bit longer.
ReCore is available for Xbox One and Windows 10. If you buy digital, you will receive a copy for both platforms as part of Microsoft’s Xbox Play Anywhere program.