Here we take a look back at a title from earlier in the generation in a potentially ongoing series as we head into a new console launch this holiday.
A Flawed Launch Made Right
In ReCore you are Joule Adams, a young woman roused from an overly long cryo-sleep on the planet New Eden. Earth is being ravaged by the Dust Devil pandemic, and you are part of a terra-forming crew created by the Mandate corporation tasked to travel the stars to bring life a currently inhospitable planet. You start your journey to get the terra-forming machines back up and run with your robot companion, Mack. He is a blue core bot created for Joule by her father, Thomas Adams a genius inventor. As you progress your way through the light story you will gain access to two more core bots, the yellow Seth, and the red Duncan. The colors represent their personalities with Blue being loyal, Red being brave, and Yellow being cautious. These three cores can inhabit the 5 various frames in the game.
The frames are the various worker bots who were tasked with maintenance for the terra-formation process while the human crews waited in cryosleep for the planet to become hospitable. The frames take the well known shapes of a dog, spider, ape, flying robot, and the restored tank that was cut from initial release. They are handed out throughout the campaign in the Metroid style of gating progress as they each have their own combat and traversal benefits. The Spider bot can be used to travel through gravity defying tracks and uses ranged attacks which are best for flying enemies. The Ape bot can smash rocks to open new pathways and is a heavy hitting brute in combat. The flying bot allows the use of thermal vents to reach areas that were previously too high, and the newly added in Tank bot can be used to traverse over otherwise unpassable quicksand. One issue with this system is that you can only have two cores and their chosen frames available to you at any time. You switch between them using the left bumper, which is used extensively in combat, but it means you must use the fast travel system to swap out cores/frames as needed when you hit a roadblock on progression. This means fast travelling back to a pre-designated spot, swapping out to what you need, and then travelling back to the area you needed the bot in on foot.
The Never Ending Sands of New Eden
Thankfully, the load times that plagued the initial release have been lowered from upward of 2 minutes to no more than 30 seconds. Death meant a one to two-minute wait, now you instantly respawn close to where you died. This is important as you will die, a lot.
The controls are tight, with a double jump and boost available to you from the start. These are used extensively in the games numerous platforming sections, and a reticle indicating where you will land on the ground helps keep the frustration levels down. Combat uses of a lock-on targeting system for your auto rifle weapon. Enemies consist of various color types, which you counter by using the directional pad to swap between white, blue, red, and yellow ammo. There are frequent difficulty spikes that force you into leveling your character and core bots which can be quite frustrating. There were multiple occasions where I would be fighting a mob my level only to move 100 feet away and have a mob 10 levels above me in the open world which would quickly lead to me being killed with one hit. There are health upgrades to find scattered throughout the open world and dungeons, and these become mandatory as you progress into the later parts of the campaign.
The Dungeons Can be Absolutely Gorgeous
There are the five main zones in the original with one new zone added for the DLC. The DLC zone is by far the most polished part of the game, and rewards you with three new heavy attack variants, though I only found one to be useful. They all share something in common in that they are all uninspired with only sand and rocks to be seen outside of the industrial wreckage that is strewn about the map. Texture quality feels more akin to an Xbox 360 or even PS2 game when it comes to the environment. Grimy looking, low-resolution sand and rock textures are prevalent throughout the outer edges of the map in a clear sign of budgetary and time constraints.
Some Texture Work Would Be at Home on a Playstation 2
This comes completely counter to the incredible music score composed by Chat Seiter. It is a beautiful mix of guitar and stringed instruments that at times I found reminiscent of the Batman Arkham series. The combat music is excellent and varied enough that I never became tired of hearing it.
One of the biggest issues fixed from the original release is the forced grind for Prismatic Cores. These cores are the currency in-game that you must use to be able to access the numerous dungeons that are strewn throughout the map. These dungeons are generally 3 to 10-minute-long bespoke sections that challenge your traversal, combat, and awareness skills. At the end of each are 3 doors which are tied to finding a timer, finding a key, and using your various ammo colors to shoot switches that are hidden though out. Succeeding in all 3 means you are rewarded with various loot caches and prismatic cores. The loot consists of different customization option gear sets for your frames. The system is not very deep, but there is good variation in how you can change your cores looks. At release the core system required having at least 45 of these hard to locate items before you could access the final area of the campaign. This was changed to a far more manageable 25 in the Definitive edition, cutting down the endgame grind significantly.
In conclusion while not a great game I can happily call ReCore a good one now. While a technical and unfinished mess at launch the Definitive Edition has addressed every major issue and the majority of the minor ones. It is available on Game Pass for both console and PC and is an easy recommendation for anyone looking for an engaging 10 to 15-hour experience that may be light on story but is heavy on fun.
Reviewed on Xbox One X