Available on: Xbox One, PC
We played on: Xbox One
When ReCore was first announced at E3 in 2015 I thought it looked great. All we saw was a teaser trailer, but the main character and her companion robots caught my eye. At this year’s E3 more gameplay footage was shown, which tempered my interest. Unfortunately, after having played it, it has turned out as I feared – pretty dull.
In ReCore you take the role of Joule who is seemingly the last person left on a planet called Far Eden. Mankind fled to Far Eden after screwing up Earth, but something went awry. There’s lots of broken down machinery everywhere and nobody else is around. Joule gets video messages from her Dad in her “Crawler” desert rover that raise more questions than answers. Joule sets off to figure out what the hell happened. She’s accompanied on her quest by her robot companions. She starts with just Mack, a robot dog, but picks up other friends throughout the game.
ReCore is a third-person action shooter platformer. It’s pretty straightforward. You run around, jump on things and shoot things. The gameplay twist here is that “cores” power everything, and you can snatch them from enemies once their health gets low enough. Boss battles require you to steal the core in order to defeat the monster robots. All of these robots come in forms that closely resemble some type of animal, which keeps the enemies feeling different and fresh throughout. All of the enemies also have a color affinity. As you play the game you’ll unlock the ability to equip your gun with these different colors, enabling you to do more damage to enemies of the same color. Once you’ve collected your robot friends, you can strategically use them in battles to help you out.
This type of gameplay is usually one that I love, but ReCore committed what I believe are three cardinal sins of releasing a game in this generation – long load times, a wonky camera, and forcing you to watch a cinematic before a boss over and over again for every try. Let’s start with long load times. I understand that some really hefty games need to take a little longer to load. But ReCore’s load times were unacceptable. That’s not to say it doesn’t look good. It does, but when taken next to comparable games, the load times are really bad.
Next up is camera. Getting a camera to work right in a game is hard. But it’s gotten easier over the years and most games have very few camera issues now. Just for comparison, in ReCore I was having issues with the camera before ever getting to the first boss. In Rise of the Tomb Raider (which has similar base gameplay) I can only remember the camera giving me trouble a handful of times throughout the entire game.
Finally, let’s talk about the useless replay of cinematics before challenging gameplay sequences like boss battles. The cinematics are truly very nice to watch the first time…maybe even the second time. But on the fifth time, I’ve had enough. Just start me at the beginning of the battle. Plus the long load times make this even more annoying.
All three of those factors took so much away from the game that I just became uninterested. And the story was not intriguing enough to make me overlook the flaws.
ReCore is rated T with a single descriptor for Violence. As noted, you do a lot of shooting in the game. But the enemies are pretty much all robots. Even when Joule takes damage, the screen will pulse a little red around the edges, but there’s no blood shown. It would be completely fine to give to a mature pre-teen.
There is nothing inherently wrong with ReCore. I was annoyed by specific elements, but those aren’t usually deal breakers on their own, especially in a genre that I love. The problem is that there’s nothing inherently special about the game either. Since the story is so cliched and shallow, there’s little left to make me want to keep playing. If you’re a busy parent like me and only have so much time to game, then I would say skip this one. With the holidays approaching and so many great games already out, ReCore isn’t really worth your time.