Recore is a game with a ton of potential and something that can be a lot of fun to play. Unfortunately that potential is not fully met but that is more on the technical aspect of things instead of the gameplay or anything else. As I was going through Recore I saw some definite inspirations from franchises such as the Legend of Zelda. There was a good deal of platforming though too and Recore turned out to be a pretty fun action adventure game.
In Recore you are awakened after a long sleep on the planet Far Eden. Earth had become uninhabitable and so a new planet needed to be found. Far Eden looked like it could fit that bill but there was work that needed to be done. A first group of colonists was sent to Far Eden to oversee the terraforming process, if needed. These colonists, including your character Joule Adams, were put in cryo-sleep for 200 years to allow the aforementioned terraforming process to take place. Unfortunately something went wrong during that timespan and not only did colonists disappear but the corebots who were supposed to be performing the work got corrupted. You do have your sidekick Mack though who is a corebot and is basically like a robot dog and for whatever reason he wasn’t affected by whatever corrupted the other bots. There is obviously more to the story than that but I don’t want to spoil anything.
Going through the game I found that the combat was really well done. The combat in Recore is essentially like a third person shooter where you will want to match the color of your ammo to the color of your enemy to try and do as much damage as you can. There is white, red, yellow and blue that you will eventually fight in the game. You can switch colors on the fly by using the d-pad and there are times where you will have to do it quickly as you might be fighting a blue enemy but then all of a sudden he summons a yellow enemy to help him out. Fortunately you pretty much have infinite ammo in the game. If you hold down the right trigger for you too long you will briefly run out of ammo but then a few seconds later you will be good to go. You can free aim if you want or lock onto an enemy by holding down the left trigger. Additionally there is your standard shot as well as a power shot that you can charge up that will inflict more damage on an enemy. Your robot sidekick will join in on the battle as well and help you out however they can and you can even order them to do one of their power attacks on an enemy. As you are battling the game’s enemies you will quickly realize there are two ways of taking them out. The first is you can simply keep shooting them until they explode. The second way is shooting them until they are sufficiently weakened and then extract their core which you do by clicking in the right analog stick and then continually pulling back on it. This is a method that you will want to use a lot so that you earn a bunch of cores and in some bosses the only way you can beat them is extracting their core.
As you progress in the game and go through countless battles both Joule and your robotic sidekick will level up so that you can become even more powerful. There is an RPG element to the game too where you can find blueprints as you explore the landscape which will allow you to upgrade your sidekick. These upgrades can be anything from a different frame, to a different robotic head, stronger mechanical legs and more. Additionally you can upgrade your sidekick’s attack, defense and energy stats to handle the increasingly difficult enemies. As you do this you will get different bonuses such as a shortened lethal recharge time and things of that nature. You can do all of this from Joule’s workbench in her crawler (essentially her ship) and this is also where you would research the blueprints you found in the game to make your companion stronger. Of course this will require materials so as you are going through the game you will want to destroy whatever you can to gather up all of the resources which will allow you to perform upgrades back at the ship.
The platforming aspect in Recore is also really well done. With some 3D games sometimes the platforming can be a bit of a mess but I am happy to say that isn’t the case here. The platforming his helped by not only being able to swing the camera around but also by the fact that you have a double jump and a rocket dash that you can do to help guide where you want to land. You can do these in mid air as well and as you get further into the game you will see puzzles that require you to do a couple of jumps in mid air and then dash in mid air through a ring which will give you the ability to do a couple of more jumps in mid air as you try to land on that platform that you thought might have been impossible to reach a few moments ago. As you discover more robotic sidekicks you will be able to do more things as well such as when you get a spider looking sidekick that will help get you up certain walls so you can reach previously inaccessible areas.
The graphical fidelity of Recore is also pretty nice and there are sometimes where the landscape will change due to sandstorms that are more powerful than anything ever seen on Earth. Joule looks nice as do her companions and I enjoy the overall atmosphere of Far Eden. Some of the problems in the game show up here too though. There were times where I would quickly move the camera around and it would seem like the geometry would get a little wonky and I could see under the ground for a few seconds. I never fell through the world or anything but it was a bit jarring when that would happen. By far the biggest offender in this game though is the abysmal loading times. The loading times are inexcusable...when they are long. It is really weird how if my character dies there are times where it loads and I can be back to playing in a matter of seconds but other times it takes up to two minutes to reload everything. Yes...two minutes! If you are in a particularly hard part of the game and a boss keeps taking you out it can seem like forever to have to sit through a two minute loading screen over and over again. I don’t understand how the experience can be so drastically different at times. It seems like this should have been optimized more before the game’s release. There were also a couple of times where I would notice a framerate drop here and there but it wasn’t anything serious. Fortunately these are all problems that can be fixed with a patch or two (and hopefully in the near future). Once the loading times are down to a more reasonable level then the fun factor of this game will go up because you can get back to the action quickly if your character gets taken out and you don’t have to sit there for two minutes browsing Facebook on your phone.
Another thing that I noticed is that while you aren’t required to do a lot of exploring outside of the main missions, you definitely should make it a point to do so. There were a couple of times where I needed to get past a door but I didn’t have enough prismatic cores to do so, so I had to backtrack a bit to find them. This could potentially ruin the flow of the game a bit if you are making some nice progress and then all of a sudden are forced to backtrack. This can be avoided though by exploring the areas as you get to them and trying to find everything while you are there. With that said though there are definitely areas that are inaccessible during your first trip there so if you do want to get everything you will have to return at a later time when you have access to more skills. Fortunately there is also some fast travel in this game so be sure to unlock the stations when you are nearby so that all of that backtracking doesn’t become too cumbersome.
Recore is a really fun action adventure platformer. I enjoyed my time on Far Eden and I thought the gameplay was really well done. I enjoyed the story as well as the RPG aspects that allowed me to level up my sidekicks. It is a shame that some of the technical issues take away from the experience though. As I noted above those issues are something that can be fixed in a future patch but there will probably be some people that won’t have any desire to return after sitting through some of those loading screens. I do hope everything gets squared away though as I enjoyed my time overall and I would love to see this become a new franchise for Microsoft and not just a one off deal. If you enjoy action adventure platformers I would definitely recommend you give Recore a try, just maybe wait a little bit until some of the technical issues are straightened out.