Recore is a brand new IP from Comcept and Armature Studios, published by Microsoft. At first glance, Recore stands out due to its price point. Although the game has been marketed and advertised the same as any other popular title, it will only cost you $40 on day one. This begs a few questions. Does the price point indicate a lack in polish or quality? Is this a one-off with no franchise opportunities? Hopefully I’ll be able to answer those questions in more. As always, we’ll look at the game in parts, starting with the narrative.
The interesting thing about Recore’s story is how little there actually is of it. You follow a scavenger woman named Joule in a post apocalyptic desert. Joined by several robot companions as you progress through the game, Joule is on a quest to find her father and investigate the mysterious Prismatic Cores. While you do meet some other scavengers along the way, these interactions are usually short lived and confined to cut-scenes. This isn’t to say that Recore has a bad story, in fact it’s the opposite. The story here provides a nice cushion of motivation to keep your character moving through the game. The mystery and “long lost father” trope wear thin as the hours pass, but it never gets obtrusive or overtly annoying. Thankfully, the gameplay is the main focus.
The focus of the game is decidedly split between platforming and third person shooting. I’m not kidding when I say that Recore has some of the best jump mechanics I’ve seen in years. The precision and snappiness the movement systems provide are a welcome breath of fresh air. This speaks double when tasked against large platforming dungeons, and other late-game obstacles. The shooting is fantastic too. Instead of free-form aim, you snap onto enemies whilst shooting at them. Think “Ocarina of Time” Z-Locking and you have a pretty good idea of the mechanic. There’s a focus on the color of the weapon you’re using compared to the color of the enemies. Similar color ammunition does more damage against similarly colored enemies, and so forth. Your robot companions provide some help in combat, which leads into the combo system. Although it’s mostly for show, racking up a high combo feels excellent. The mixture of quick reflexes, exciting gun-play, and managing your companion all feel great within the combat.
The game is laid out over an expansive desert, with playable dungeons and story encounters littered throughout. In order to progress the story, you often have to go visit secondary dungeons. These dungeons are split between combat/puzzle and platforming. There’s a nice variation in the gameplay to where it never feels repetitive. As you complete these dungeons (and in the overworld as well) you collect upgrades for your robot companions. You can visit your starting ship to upgrade your robots piece by piece, and allocate upgrades to them via different colored orbs you collect. While it might sound complicated, the whole upgrade system is laid out in an easy to understand platform. While there are more complex game mechanics on display here (random number generation percentage, etc), you’re never forced to completely understand something. Most of the numbers displayed on your upgrade screen are simple to understand. The exclusion of managing inventory space was a great choice here as well.
Graphically speaking, Recore is decent. There’s a lack of polish for sure, as some textures are muddy but have jagged corners. Then again, the game runs well and doesn’t drop frame rate too often. The biggest gripe I have with the Xbox One version is the load times. Compared to the PC version, the load times can take upwards of a minute. The PC handles the same load times in under 5 seconds, usually. The game also looks much better on PC, but then again, most games do. The game does a good job mixing colors in combat, but the overworld is tan and brown all over. The desert itself looks nice when staring across it, but if you’re looking for color, you won’t find it.
Overall, Recore is a great buy. Thanks to its low purchase price and it’s focus on solid gameplay, I can fully recommend it. Whether you play it for hours on end, or casually play it for a few minutes here and there, I’m sure you’ll find enjoyment. If you can look past the color palette and load times, you have a great third person action game. In a world full of cinematic experiences, it’s refreshing to see a game focus on its roots. If Recore is anything, it’s fun.