ReCore has all the elements of Metroid Prime or Horizon Zero Dawn. The similarities are certainly there but doesn’t do it much justice when ReCore is struggling to stand on its own two feet.
Earth is dying and humanity tries to survive by settling on the planet Far Eden. Although the name implies a paradise, little of this has materialized. At least, that’s the impression Joule Adams gets when she awakens from a long cryosleep. It seems she is the only human presence and along with a friendly, barking robot, she goes to figure out what happened on Far Eden.
Recore seems big on the mystery of Far Eden. A voice-over gives the discovery added weight and the planet is attractive in its own way: if Mars Far Eden consists mainly of deserts and mountains. It is clear that mankind has wreaked havoc here, given some small settlements and many steel structures. The structures are reminiscent of the post-apocalyptic Earth from Enslaved: Odyssey to the West, where industrial technology also determined the atmosphere.
Recore did well with its concept design, but it falls short when it tries to build a game around it. You go through essentially dungeon after dungeon, shooting at moving lead and iron, and use the materials collected on the way to boost your skills and equipment. As an added benefit, you travel regularly back to previously visited areas where, with the right robot, you can access previously inaccessible places.
This direct and comprehensive approach has proven itself over the years but contrasts sharply with the enigma and the theme of Far Eden. The voice-over makes the mood even more interesting – until you gather materials lying around. The path to the ground is so painfully obvious and the sense of mystery is quickly gone.
Moreover, it is soon clear that Far Eden is a tiny planet: you have been everywhere in no time and a lot of the continues story involves a lot of backtracking. In fact, just when you have some spectacular robots on your side, you reach the end of the game. This ending feels very strained. In other open world games like Metroid or Castlevania games the ending would be an entirely new at this stage (especially larger) but in Recore it was just another big robot battle albeit a few added cut scenes.
One of Recores most annoying aspects is that at certain points you have to complete a task such as ‘collect 45 ‘prism cores to continue’. At the start, you have probably found fifteen to twenty without them really seeming to matter – the cutscenes and the title of the game aside, but it quickly becomes apparent that Recore is not much more than a grind fest. It is a relatively tightly directed action platformer, with the open world a beautifully designed sandbox.
Recore could have definitely benefited from more direction, with the unfortunate design choices clashing at times with very fine action. Fights are spectacular and require a certain dexterity: enemies are yellow, blue or red, requiring the corresponding colour on your weapon for the most damage, but it can be choppy at times.
The more regrettable issues are the slow loading times (especially on Xbox One) by an unprecedented height, clipping occurs and animations are sometimes awkward and choppy. These imperfections, however, don’t actually compromise Recore’s qualities. That dubious honor goes to the more basic design choices.
Recore is one of the first Xbox Play Anywhere titles. It is a great idea to be able to play your games on either PC or Xbox One. The downside is that this is Microsoft’s next step towards the pc and away from the Xbox One.
Recore appear on September 16 for Windows 10 and Xbox One, the first Xbox Play Anywhere title. This review is Recore on both Xbox One and PC tested.
Recore looks for a middle ground between mystery and colourfulness. The consistent adventure is obvious. The nice platform and action mechanisms, as well as the strong design, makes ReCore a great concept but it definitely falls on it’s word. Recore’s linear storyline cripples replayability.