FROM MY WEBSITE thatdemoguy.com
I'm not going to waste a lot of your time with this "review", I am going to come right out and tell you to not buy ReCore. At least not at full price. Maybe even skip it on sale. It's not that it's a terrible game, because there are some moments of pure brilliance and even slight glimmers of game design genius. But the problem is that the game betrays you as the player and never truly finds its identity and drags you along for a very confusing and boring ride.
ReCore actually start off very promising. You're immediately thrust into the role of Joule (pronounced like Jewel), who awakens from cryo sleep on a barren desert planet. Her only companion is her trusted robot dog, Mack. She's alone in a world full of hostile robots that were meant to terraform the planet for human habitation, but something has happened causing there to be a revolt and the robots have turned against their masters. It's a very straightforward premise that doesn't leave a whole lot to the imagination. Even given this, the world that you're in is very initially intriguing. From the outset you're given this vast open world, and even equipped with a standard double jump and dash boots, there places in the world that are just out of your reach. There's mysterious air geysers, sections of track rising to the sky, seemingly traversable chasms, and huge cracked rocks that are just the right amount of "out of place" that you know that eventually once you progress, that you will have full reign over this desert wasteland. You cannot wait to simply dive in and see exactly what waits for you. And for the first few hours, it’s actually exhilarating. Joule has amazing mobility and is even a very capable combatant. The robot enemies in the game are all powered by various different color energy cores in red, blue, or yellow. In combat you have to change ammo types on the fly to best manage how to approach hostile encounters because naturally, same color ammo does more damage to same color enemies. But you're very rarely in an encounter where you're batting a single color enemy, thus making the combat and movement very engaging and exciting. This is then bolstered by the fact that once you weaken an enemy, you have the option to either outright defeat them, causing them to drop scrap parts that you can then use to build new components for your own robot companion(s), or you can rip out their colored core. If you choose this option, you enter a tug of war mini game as you try to take their core from them, which you can then use to power up your own robots of the same color by bolstering their attack, defense, or energy ratings. So there's a very delicate balance between choosing to scavenge for parts to build different parts for your robots, raising their stats piece by piece, or going right for the cores and raising a particular stat on your own. Each of these has its pros and cons, and for those first few hours, this game is extremely engaging.
So what went wrong?
Unfortunately, after those first few hours....you realize that something just isn't quite right. The combat doesn't ever evolve and that tease of freedom and exploration is then ripped away from you. You start off with just Mack, your dog companion who can sniff out hidden areas and dig up secrets buried in the sand. Then you earn Seth, who is a spider type robot that you can hook onto and is able to access those mysterious tracks in the sky, giving you access to previously unavailable areas. This is well and good. But then, you find Duncan, who is an ape robot that can break open those cracked rocks, uncovering more secrets. COOL RIGHT? Time to go and take this world by storm. Well this is where the game shoots itself in the foot with what is quite possibly the most half baked idea I have ever encountered in this modern gaming era. So you have Mack, Seth, and Duncan who can all help you get around the world in different ways. Mack, Seth, and Duncan. That's three different names. But guess what? YOU CAN ONLY EVER HAVE TWO OF THEM WITH YOU AT ONE TIME!!!! That's right, you are limited on your exploration in an open world game!! This is then made even more frustrating once you earn new frames for your robots that give you new abilities like flight. Want to know why this is so frustrating? Well the game comes from Comcept and Armature, companies with employees who worked on both the Mega Man and Metroid Prime franchises. So you would THINK that they would know how to handle the gradual powering up of a character and traversal of a game world. Apparently not. Just imagine playing a Mega Man title, beating all the bosses, earning new power ups, but then having to only be able to take TWO of them into the final level. Or imagine playing a Metroid title, finding all the Chozo statues, fully maxing out Samus' power suit abilities, and then only being able to take TWO of those abilities out at any given time. This is just shoddy and stupid game design.
It gets worse, because to change your robot loadout, you have to BACKTRACK to Joule's sand crawler/home base. This isn't that bad, considering that you can easily pause the game and hit one button to fast travel back to base. But the issue is that every single time you do this, the game has an extremely lengthy, and when I say lengthy I mean at least 2 to 3 minute load time. Meaning if you head out and find an area you need to reach, but have the wrong robot, well you gotta head back to base and change them out. There went 3 minutes. POOF GONE. And you will be doing this a WHOLE LOT because the entire back half of the game is you being sent on repeated fetch quests for more prismatic cores (think keys) to access story related areas. This makes the gameplay loop very tedious because your progression is constantly hampered by having to go backwards then working your way back to where you were with the same respawning enemy groups in your way. And if you just happen across a new secret while working your way back, you run the risk of not being able to collect it or even explore that area if you have the incorrect robots with you. This is beyond problematic and just plain out HORRIBLE GAME DESIGN.
Oh that loading issue? It gets further exacerbated because when you die, be it in combat or from various falls or environmental traps, you will also get treated to another 3 minute loading screen. And trust me, you will be dying and falling, because the last section of the game is a huge boss tower with a ridiculous difficulty spike. You're forced to climb this tower, which is nothing but jumping puzzles with tough combat sections as checkpoints. And it’s not that the combat sections are necessarily hard per se, but what the game doesn't prepare you for is that in this ENTIRE last section, you are forced to fight in combat arenas, with walls that actually damage you and restrict your movement, whereas the entire time you've been playing up to now you've been able to move about the play area at will. Once again HORRIBLE GAME DESIGN.
Stack these addressed issues on top of crashes, bugs, and a frame rate that sometimes falls far below 30FPS in even the most questionable of places, and you have a product that ultimately ends up being wasted potential. I really wanted to like ReCore, I really did. I felt that with the pedigree of the people working on it, that Microsoft had a bonafide AAA exclusive new IP that could benefit them this generation, but this is just another one that falls flat.
So how do YOU feel about ReCore? Have you played it? If so, did you finish it? Feel free sound off here in the comments or find me on any and all social media at thatdemoguy.