Developer(s): Comcept, Armature Studios
Publisher(s): Microsoft Studios
Release date: September 13th, 2016
Another Project that had the name of Keiji Inafune attached, Recore, is a third-person action platformer that feels right out of the PS2 era. Recore establishes a brilliant and exciting SciFi universe and introduces some smart mechanics before ultimately falling flat. What seemingly could have been a great new IP for Microsoft seems to draw to a close before it’s given a chance to reach its full potential.
Recore follows the story of Joule Adams and her three robot companions. The robots or “Corebots” as they are dubbed are composed of a colored personality core around a robotic frame. The game focuses on upgrading your three Corebots via equipment blueprints you can craft back at Joule’s base the sand crawler, the purpose of the upgrades is to aid in combat, as well as puzzle solving. Joule herself is equipped with an energy rifle with four different ammo types white, red, blue, and yellow. You can swap ammo types on the fly, if an enemy bots color matched your ammo color you’ll do more damage, likewise if one of your corebots colors matches an enemy he’ll also deal additional damage. Joule is also equipped with a grappling hook she can use to remove cores from weakened corebots in order to upgrade stats such as attack, energy, and defense on your companions.
Recore features a semi-open world which can change shape and structure based off sandstorms that occur throughout the game. Joule traverses on foot or with her jet boots and dash ability, as well as her Corebots abilities. For example, the spider frame allows Joule to travel along certain tracks or climb certain walls. The game features several main story dungeons as well as some side dungeons to discover for those willing to explore. The primary goal is to find “Prismatic Cores” a unique core type that can be found as dungeon rewards or by solving puzzles in the open world. Think stars in Mario 64, not finding enough can hold you up big time late game.
The game takes place in the distant future( roughly 200 years) on the planet of Far Eden. Sometimes during the 2020’s Earth was stricken by a disease know as the “Dust Devil Plague.” Due to the disease, the Earth was beginning to become uninhabitable, so an organization known as Mandate launched an expedition to colonize the planet of Far Eden. Corebots were sent to build the first facility and begin terraforming the planet. The first wave of colonists were put into cryo-sleep. When Joule wakes up from cryo-sleep early and sees corrupted Corebots and the terraforming process off schedule, it’s up to her to figure out what went wrong.
It’s worth noting that Recore is the first Xbox play anywhere game. For those that don’t know all first party, Microsoft games will now be cross-platform for Windows PC and Xbox One. What this means is if you buy a copy for the console you also have a PC copy and can easily cross-save. To this end, I was able to compare the two versions easily. Even on a lower end PC, I would highly recommend playing that version. Frames often dipped on the Xbox One and visuals were far superior on PC ( I’m running a 970). One other notable performance issue is the load times. Sometimes almost two full minutes to load into a dungeon is enough to stop some from playing.
Recores biggest disservice, however, is how rushed it feels. Comcept and Armature did an excellent job crafting an interesting world full of characters with style and charm that grinds to a hault just when it feels ready to open up. I was able to get to the final dungeon in about six hours before I was forced into a grind heavy monotony. The amount of Prism cores required to enter the final dungeon will almost certainly force you into rescavenging the open world. Also each level you move up in said dungeon requires even more cores. If you were completely put off by that WindWaker end game, then this isn’t for you. Some simple design elements are also overly frustrating. Joule can only bring two of her corebot companions with her at a time. Some dungeons require the abilities of a particular corebot frame to complete, only the side dungeons, however, inform you of this before entering. I can’t count the number of times I entered a dungeon only to realize I needed the gorilla frame about half way through.
Recore is a game with some charm and great ideas. It grabbed me in its early hours only to burn out later on. It feels like a long lost relic from the PlayStation 2 era, filled with fantastic concepts that get overshadowed by inexcusable design flaws. It unfortunatly looks like what could’ve been a great new IP for Microsfot was rushed to market and not given the care it truly deserved. You can pick up Recore for Xbox One and Windows PC now.
Score: 5 out of 10