First revealed back in 2014 and produced by Keiji Inafune, ReCore had quite a lot of eyes tracking its development over the last couple of years. Since then we have seen little pieces of the title and after a separate title was released earlier in the year by the developer, many began to wonder just what ReCore had in store for them. Well now that ReCore has been released, is it worthy of your time?
Set on the desert wasteland of New Eden, the young Joule Adams has awoken from her two hundred yearlong cryo-sleep only to find that the plans that humanity and the Earth had for this new world have gone terribly wrong. The robots, called Corebots, that were designed to help establish the planet as a new home for humanity have gone rogue and the entire planet that was meant to be seen as a new home is now filled with metallic scrap, sand, and angry robots ready to kill Joule.
With Joule having no idea what exactly happened, it is only with the help of her trusted companion bot Mack who is eventually joined by two other special bot types that she must try to find out what happened to the rest of the team that was supposed to be working on the planet and where everything went wrong. While this storyline does seem like it might have potential.
The story thankfully stays prominent enough to keep players striving forward and various collectibles help add some extra background to the story, the problem lies in the fact that that potential is never tapped and instead players are treated to a predictable storyline that does very little different to remain memorable. In fact, throughout the story the only part that really feels well-designed comes from the corebot companions who surprisingly have more personality than anything else in the title’s story.
The core concepts of gameplay in ReCore are focused around third-person gunplay and traveling throughout the world by getting past obstacles through platforming. The combat system is incredibly easy to start with as Joule is equipped with a beam rifle that is capable of swapping between various colors, with every enemy Joule encounters will be one of three colors and matching the ammo color with the foe will deal additional damage and automatically targets the closest enemy when aimed and snaps to the next foe after the previous one is defeated.
In combat players can also extract the cores of weakened bots through a tug-of-war min-game that if completed successfully rewards the player with a colored core that can be transformed into energy. Alongside the gunplay players will also be able to use Joule’s corebots to perform “lethal” attacks when they have sufficient charge to deal large amounts of damage though most of the time they simply serve as distractions to allow Joule to take on multiple foes at a time.
It is worth noting that while combat may seem easy at first, players will eventually begin to encounter increasingly difficult enemies that use shields that must be dropped with burst shots, others that can only be attacked from certain angles, and some that utilize stunning attacks that can be incredibly frustrating thanks to the low level of damage that Joule can receive. This means that some fights result in a complete loss almost immediately if the player is unlucky enough to get stunned so the best option is usually to make use of the double-jump and boosting mechanics to always stay on the move in combat.
While the combat system ranges from either too easy to spiking in difficulty, the actual movement mechanics and platforming are a big attraction in ReCore. Joule’s equipment allows her to double jump, dash on the ground or through the air, and make quick climbs on most ledges. The game allows players to use these fluid mechanics to traverse the world in a satisfying fashion most of the time as players will easily learn how to dash through areas, jump, dash, and jump once again all in one sequence. The fact that the platforming feels so well done is a great help considering the grinding and buggy nature of this game.
Almost every aspect of progression in ReCore revolves around collecting special Prismatic Cores that are scattered throughout the open world and hidden away in dungeons. The problem is that players will find themselves completely gated out of progressing if they didn’t explore an area enough or revisit a spot with a new Corebot companion to clear a previous insurmountable obstacle to get a core or some areas are simply locked if you haven’t leveled enough, forcing the player to grind away at enemies. Gating off progression can generally be done in a manner to entice players to see different places and get a new look at the world, but ReCore’s method and lack of a populated open world feels like nothing more than padding
Out in the field players do nothing more than gather these cores or get into random battles, which can be somewhat useful when it comes to crafting new blueprints and upgrading your companions with new parts, however even this method is frustratingly monotonous as upping various stats requires staring at a bar fill repeatedly and since stat upgrades and new blueprint pieces can only be applied at Joule’s crawler (home base), players will need to deal with another aspect of the game that is frankly terrible.
I’m talking about load times here. Whether it is fast traveling back to the crawler, traveling between maps, reloading from a cheap death, or any other form of loading screen players will need to be prepared for at best a minute long wait. At one point a certain area took over two and a half minutes to load in after dying in combat and considering this happened enough to the point that I started keeping track of it then you’ll need to be prepared for that aspect of the game and considering the barren nature of most areas in the game, players will be left wondering why it takes so long.
Combine this with numerous crashes to the main menu, areas where you can clip through the ground repeatedly (with the game resetting you to the same clipping point until you quit out to fix the issue), and numerous places players can explore only to find themselves stuck in the level design and you’ll be wary of venturing too far off the beaten path, though even if you do there is little to find there.
Visuals & Audio
Being set in a desert world already gives players a bad sign of what to expect when it comes to level design but thankfully nicely designed and varied dungeons and interior areas in ReCore help make up for the incredibly barren and frankly unfinished looking areas that players will encounter in most of the open world. Joule’s character model as well as her companions are given quite a shine here especially since many blueprint upgrades provide cosmetic changes to their appearance.
The soundtrack is fairly standard for the genre with a number of fitting pieces of music used throughout the game while the voice acting, for what there is, works well in creating a bond between Joule and her companions who speak only through unintelligible robotic dialogue.
Solid movement mechanics, fun companions, and an enjoyable combat system that stays varied enough to keep players on their toes helps ReCore push past its simple storyline but the useless padding is something that drags nearly every aspect down. ReCore feels like a game that has plenty of potential but unfortunately just like the sands in the game, all of the polished segments lay buried beneath poor design choices, terrible load times, and numerous glitches.