Microsoft’s latest “Windows 10 and Xbox One” exclusive, ReCore, is a title that not only showed promise, but one that had gamers salivating when it first appeared at E3 2015. The final product is anything but a steaming pile of garbage.
ReCore’s story stars Joule — a clever pun for the game — who wakes up to find that she’s the only person on a desert planet. Well, it may be a desert, but it’s not deserted. The world is inhabited by all sorts of robots who were supposed to be terraforming the land to make it, basically, the next Earth. Our lone hero sets out with the trusty companion — a robot mutt named Mack — to find out exactly went wrong.
You’ll start ReCore by going through a tutorial dungeon, which ends with a relatively easy boss. Along the way you’re introduced to the game’s fighting mechanics, some of the platforming aspects, and given a taste of things to come. Couple that with the absolutely gorgeous visuals and you’d be forgiven for thinking that ReCore could just be a contender for 2016’s game of the year. It only takes a few hours for the game to show its true colours and everything that’s truly wrong with it.
The game suffers from heavy load times. According to my Xbox One, I’ve been playing it for close to 15 hours. I honestly shudder to think about how much of that was spent waiting for the game to load, waiting for areas to load, and even waiting for the main menu to load. By my estimates, it’s probably around two and a half hours. Yup, that’s two and a half hours of my life I’ll never get back as I watched that swirling white icon do who knows what. A second patch for the game has been issued to fix some of the load time, of which it’s shortened some, but it has also introduced other problems as well.
What works in ReCore’s favour is how gorgeous the game is
What works in ReCore’s favour is how gorgeous the game is. The desert wasteland, gargantuan structures, and dungeons are all a sight to behold. They’re beautiful and wonderful and I could stare at the outdoor environments all day. Even the enemies, all of whom look like ReBoot rejects, are pretty in their own way. And then there’s gorgeous Joule with her adorable freckles.
The game’s beauty does come at a price, though. While the outdoor environments run at constant speed, without any noticeable dips in framerate, the indoor and cramped ones are another story. These areas are susceptible to frame-rate drops when in battle or just mulling around the price. It perplexes me how the game struggles with the dungeons, especially a small corridor, but not the big open world.
ReCore’s first dungeon is a cosmetic cover-up for the wart that is the game’s battle mechanics. We’re introduced to a relatively easy-to-use lock-on system, jump and dash mechanics, and also different coloured blasters to take on enemies. After a few hours, it becomes apparent just how mundane the lock-on system is, and how it likes choosing targets you don’t want to fight right now. In fact, flying enemies are the bane of your lock-on existence as the system just doesn’t like targeting them at all.
ReCore’s first dungeon is a cosmetic cover-up for the wart that is the game’s battle mechanics
The game allows the enemies to spam you with attacks all they want without any real time to recover from your injuries or to compose yourself. An opponent can hit you with a fire attack, which will stagger slightly, then the game expects you to put out the fire on your body by boosting while there are two more fire attacks incoming. I cannot even recount the number of times I died in battle (and waited over a minute to respawn) because an enemy kept hitting me without any cooldown time for their attack.
As mentioned earlier, the latest patch seems to have introduced a new bug into the game: stuttering during battle. Yes, the game will jerk terribly for freeze for a second while you’re trying to fend off all of the spam attacks. Upon realising this new problem, I promptly switched off the game and vowed never to touch it again.
The world is to be explored and areas re-visited when new abilities are unlocked, which adds longevity to the title. This throws Joule into the role of an adventurer, but the game holds her back. She isn’t the next Lara Croft, that’s for sure. I missed too many platform jumps because of camera issues, which lead to quite a few swearing sessions.
Joule is a pretty rubbish fighter. Throughout the game, you can upgrade her health with canisters, but these tiny increments feel useless in the heat of battle. Couple that with the fact that only your robotic companions can be upgraded and you’ll be relying a little too heavily on them in battle while Joule takes hit after hit. The companions are an interesting mechanic, but their ability to be useful on their own leaves much to be desired. All of the stat numbers feel as though they mean nothing.
In order to upgrade these companions, you’ll need to find blueprints and scavenge parts scattered throughout the world. The system seems simple enough, but it also feels as though it’s not thought-out at all. There could be more going on here, but it was rushed, like the rest of the game.
ReCore still shows a lot of promise, which is probably its biggest flaw. There are hints of Metroid Prime and MegaMan throughout due to creators of those games being involved with ReCore, but nothing ever really comes to fruition; it’s all very slap-dash and half-hearted.
Release Date: 13 September 2016
Developer: Armature Studio, Comcept
Platform(s): Microsoft Windows 10, Xbox One (review platform)
Launch Price (RRP): R449 (Xbox One)
Industry average score: 63/100
Verdict: Don’t be fooled by the game’s gorgeous art-style and interesting looking combat. ReCore is a title that showed much promise, but ultimately under delivers in almost every way. Even if you see it in the bargain bin, pass it up because life is just too short.