ReCore feels like a throwback to the Japanese Adventure games of the PlayStation 2 and Xbox era. It features an expansive world and plenty of personality. However, the second half of the game throws up too many obstacles that completely hinders the excellent experience the first half offers.
ReCore is the first Play Anywhere title from Microsoft which means one code will allow you play on both Xbox One and a Windows 10 PC. This includes cross-saves meaning you can pick up on one where you left off on the other. It works seamlessly and honestly, I was impressed. What I noticed playing on both these systems though is the difference in visuals which is quite clear to see. ReCore isn’t setting new standards with it visual fidelity but the PC version by far looks better. The texture on the Xbox One version look muddy and there are some performance issues when there is a lot of action on the screen. On the PC version, everything looks much sharper and runs really well. On my system which has an FX8350 and an R9 390x, I had a silky smooth 1080p, 60 fps experience that very rarely hitched. This was definitely the preferred way to play it. There’s nothing inherently wrong with the Xbox One version but the PC version looks pretty good.
In ReCore, you play as Joule who awakens on Far Eden, which is devoid of human life. The ships that were once there to complete their terraforming objective has been destroyed by Victor as he turned all the core bots against them. You must stop Victor and stop the corrupted corebots.
The structure of ReCore is not completely open-world. Instead, it seemingly acts as an explorable overworld. As you explore the land, you will come across mandatory and optional dungeons. There’s not much else to do in the expansive areas except from some enemies and platforming situations. The platforming and combat both stand out as exceptional and never tire.
There are optional dungeons that are all centered around traversal and while normally, objectives like this would be frustrating, the platforming feels responsive and impressive meaning its always enjoyable to try complete all the objectives.
Combat is similarly satisfying but feels much snappier and feels designed to be all about constantly moving and mixing up your approach. You have four colour-coded shots that correlate to the colours on the enemy corebots. Matching the colours cause more damage and is a fun way to add another layer to the combat while also keeping the momentum fast. It’s frantic but not dumb.
When an enemy’s health is reduced, you can then extract the core from the corebots’s frame. The extracted cores are then used in core fusion which is used to increase your own cores’ attack, defence, and energy. The collecting also extends to the core game where enemies drop parts which can also be found throughout the world which is then used to build new parts of your frame. This creates a consistent and rather fun loop of ever-increasing the power of your cores.
The thing you will spend most of the time doing is collecting prismatic cores. These cores are found throughout the world, both in dungeons and in the open areas. Unfortunately, these cores become the crux at where the game starts to fall apart a little.
The first half of the game feels fluid and incredibly well made but as time goes on, the cracks start to show and by the time you reach the end, you can find it hard to remember all the great feelings you had for the game early on. The game doesn’t become bad but the structure diminishes all the
enjoyment found in the earlier portions of the game. To progress the story, you can be held back by levels and failing to accumulate a certain number of prismatic cores. This will then require you to return to older areas and scout for them, often times requiring you to complete the optional dungeons. This greatly hinders the flow of the game and honestly it hits a wall in the later stages.
While this inherent design problem is the game’s biggest downfall, it also isn’t as polished as it maybe should be. There were plenty of times when Joule fell through part of the geometry of the open world wasn’t expecting the player to reach certain parts of the map. While they took the lazy route by simply putting up a radiation timer around the perimeter, there are also parts of the map where you can get stuck and must restart the game,
Despite it’s shortcomings, I had a blast with ReCore. It may feel ike a game of old but everything is delivered so well that it’s very hard to put down. The progression, especially in the later half can grate, but the core gameplay, the RPG aspects, and even the visuals all keeps you invested. It still needs some work, bugs need to be ironed out, and perhaps some tweaking to dungeon restrictions will result in an essential purchase. If you can handle the problems though what you have is a really good Action Adventure game.