ReCore on Xbox One
ReCore puts you in the shoes of one of the last remaining humans as you visit a distant planet that goes by the name of Far Eden- a planet that was supposed to be a refuge for those humans that had survived a devastating attack on Earth, turned into a desert hell thanks to the hostile robots covering its surface. You’ve been chosen to be one of Far Eden’s first colonial contingent and must prepare this new planet for the rest of human civilization. As Joule, you and your adorable robot dog Mack will begin an adventure of platforming, shooting, and frustration.
Your objective in ReCore is simple: Put an end to the hostile robots and make Far Eden safe for humans once more. It turns out that the Prime Core isn’t in its rightful place powering Far Eden Tower. This has led to the atmospheric processing pylons dotted across Far Eden to stop working. That’s where you come in. You’ll have to get the Prime Core back to the top of Far Eden Tower allow the planet’s atmosphere to continue to be cleansed. Of course, it’s not all that simple, and a Corebot that went rogue by the name of Victor is determined to make this planet his own and wipe out any human life that stands in his way.
In order to complete your mission, you’ll have to utilize the skills of not only Joule, but also the Corebots that join her along the way. Each Corebot has a distinct strength and weakness, and switching between them in battle will help continue to give you the upper-hand against the metallic beasts that stand in your way. You can also upgrade these with new parts, increase their power, and change their frames to help you along with your adventure, but more on that a little later.
ReCore’s gameplay focuses predominantly on platforming and shooting, though not shooting in the traditional sense. Rather than having players aim and fire, ReCore does the hard bit of aiming for you, leaving you to hold down the trigger, evade incoming attacks, and command your Corebot to dish out some additional damage. It must be said that, while it doesn’t necessarily sound like it would work in practice, an auto-lock feature is quite beneficial to ReCore’s combat. The action is always fast-paced and is quite possibly the most enjoyable portion of the game. Especially in later areas where you’ll be taking on multiple enemies at once, or some far tougher enemies than the basic bots you were shooting with ease at the start.
Platforming, on the other hand, felt very familiar and, for the most part, was great. Thanks to the fluid controls, Joule handled like a charm and made reaching platforms that required precise jumping simple. That’s not to say it’s all a wonderful affair in terms of the platforming, though. With Far Eden being a work-in-progress planet for humans to settle down, there are a couple of environmental hazards. These are largely used to prevent you from wandering off the edge of the map, or raising the stakes of that jump you’re making 100 ft. above the ground. However, there are moments where, thanks to the need to manually position the camera as you automatically zip around aerial sections of track with the help of another one of your Corebots (the adorable Seth), you’ll have trouble gauging a jump or just completely missing the platform you’re supposed to be leaping towards.
It’s not often, but falling to the floor, only to find you’ve got to spend five minutes making your way back to the start of this platforming section thanks to the sinking sand plaguing the environment is frustrating. When things run smoothly, ReCore plays and looks great. When things start going wrong, however, the whole thing becomes a little too laborious.
ReCore starts off slowly enough, simply introducing you to the world of Far Eden and the foes that inhabit it. Once you’ve delved into its first dungeon and emerged victorious, the game then opens up a little bit more. Players are now given the ability to explore Far Eden as they see fit, alleviating my initial concern that this was going to be a very linear and short adventure. ReCore has a bunch of extra dungeons that players don’t necessarily have to venture into as part of the main story. These adopt a slightly different approach to the normal dungeons. Rather than being tasked with simply completing them, there are a number of additional objectives that can also be completed. These range from shooting a number of switches scattered around the environment, picking up a yellow key, and reaching the end within a set time.
By completing each of these additional objectives, players will receive the likes of blueprints for new Corebot components, Prismatic Cores, and other crafting materials. While we’d advise you to go and explore each of these, as they’re a good bit of fun, you don’t necessarily have to do these to beat the game. However, if you choose not to and opt to simply make your way through the main story, you’ll be penalized for doing so and will find yourself coming back later.
At different points, ReCore will require Joule to be of a certain level and have a set number of Prismatic Cores (essentially keys) to unlock the next dungeon or area. While this may not be an issue to those who opt to explore off the beaten path and clear everything that appears on their map, it’s the lack of warning that can get a little frustrating.
You see, ReCore’s world isn’t all that interesting to explore in the first place. The environment is very much the same combinations of sand, rock, and metal, and while I appreciate the idea of maintaining the aesthetic of the planet, it’s just not remotely interesting to explore after the first 30 minutes. This makes checking your map, treading through sand, and rinse repeating this process until you’ve nailed the location of one of these Prismatic Cores (or the enemy that is being powered by it and needs it ripping out of them) feel more like work than fun. Of course, once you’ve got the Core in your sights, the real platforming and combat fun can begin, depending on what stands in your way.
This brings me to one of ReCore’s biggest game mechanics: Cores and Corebots. Cores are those glowing spheres that you’ve seen in all of the promotional material powering your Corebot companions. Cores aren’t only powering your robot buddies, but all of the enemies on Far Eden, too. This is where ReCore’s upgrade system comes into play. Joule has the ability at times during combat to rip these cores straight out of her enemies, leaving them in pieces on the floor, and providing her with the fuel to further power up robot dog Mack, spider bot Seth, and the lumbering titan, Duncan.
Extracting these cores proved to not only feel oddly satisfying, but was also an interesting mini-game in itself. Players are required to click down the right stick to engage your grappling hook of sorts and point it down to slowly pry the core out of the metal frame. Pull too hard at the wrong time and the wire will turn red, signaling it’s getting too tense. Flashing white means the whole thing is about to break. This makes extracting cores far more than just holding down until it finally comes to you. Instead, you’ll have to ease off the tension, but not too much that you suffer damage from the resisting robot. When you’ve finally ripped the core from the robot body, you’ll feel like a badass. Especially when you get the chance to perform an ‘instant extraction’ which, when executed, is swift and very rarely unsuccessful.
The cores you harvest from enemies can be used to quickly bolster your Corebots’ stats. The cores are turned into fusion energy, which Joule can then use at her Crawler’s (her ship) workbench to bolster the Attack, Defense, and Energy stats with Core Fusion. Simply put, the cores found are broken down into smaller units of fusion energy which then contribute to leveling up the stats of each bot. By using your Corebots in combat, you’ll also see their general level increasing, too. This allows you to pour more Fusion Energy into their stats, making them much stronger and far more valuable during the later fights of the main story.
That’s not where the customization and upgrades end with the Corebots. On your adventures across the sandy landscape of Far Eden, you’ll often stumble upon Supply Caches that contain blueprints. These blueprints unlock new parts that you can switch out on a specific Corebot. But to build these, you’ll need a bunch of crafting materials that can be looted by destroying enemies without tearing their cores out. By upgrading the different parts of your Corebots, and bolstering their Core Fusion, you’ll end up with far more powerful companions for your adventures. Therefore, you’ll find yourself frequenting Joule’s Crawler quite often with the help of the fast travel system.
While the visuals may look somewhat good at times, the game suffers heavily on a technical level, and at the strangest moments. While there were bullets firing off all over the screen, particle effects of exploding robots in full motion, and my Corebot dishing out additional damage, the game coped fine. However, wandering across a long desert? The framerate stuttered. I also happened upon a couple of moments where Joule simply fell through the floor to her death, and no matter how many times she respawned it just continued to happen. It took me exiting the game and loading back up to solve the problem, which is pretty painful considering you’re looking at over 30 seconds every time the game loads… for anything.
It was these technical difficulties that really let ReCore down. Painstakingly long load times for simply dying in a small room, fast traveling, or just loading the game up seems out of place in a game that isn’t by any means pushing the Xbox One to its limits. Had ReCore been given that bit of extra polish, the whole 10-12 hour experience would have been lifted.
Ultimately, I’m left in two minds with ReCore. While its platforming and shooting gameplay was fun, if not a tad basic, the story is there to do little more than drive things forward, and the environment it all comes in is dull and not enjoyable to explore. When combined with the need to do exactly that, some crashes causing you to exit and reload, and painful load times, ReCore becomes more of a drag, the more you play. If you’ve got the patience to put up with its load times, and technical blips, there’s a fun and interesting take on the platforming genre here. Just don’t expect the most polished or groundbreaking experience, though.
Score: 3.5/5 – Fair
• Solid platforming and combat action.
• Interesting ‘core’ mechanic.
• Long load times and technical issues.
• Bland environment.
• Retreading ground is tedious.