It should be noted that I played through ReCore on the Xbox One. I have heard reports that the PC version is both better and worse in terms of bugs and load times.
ReCore is a clumsy, empty and vastly frustrating experience the further you get into it. What starts as an interesting and exciting product quickly diminishes due to numerous bugs and tedious gameplay. Extreme load times, mixed with unfair and game breaking problems will make your enjoyment run out fast. It’s a disappointment that this retro platformer couldn’t live up to the glory days it pulls from.
ReCore is a puzzle platformer, very similar to games such as Jak and Daxter and Kameo. There’s a heavy emphasis on traversal as you work your way around various environments and obstacles. It’s fun to control; you start with both a double jump and an air dash that make your movement quite enjoyable. Progressing through the game will give you a number of robot partners with additional abilities in order to reach new heights and areas. The characters move and control well as you hunt your way through the world.
When you’re not taking on a dungeon you can spend your time searching for loot. Any blueprints and components you find go towards customizing your robot companions. This will make them stronger and more deadly in combat. This will also change the way they look which is fun to play with. Eventually you unlock the option to switch cores from one robot to another which offers new special attacks. A robot’s core acts as its personality but unfortunately this is used to little effect. Most of the time you will spend with your companions is when you need them to pass specific obstacles. The customization is fun to play with but the depth to these characters ends up being quite shallow.
The combat is surprisingly enjoyable in ReCore. There is a major emphasis on matching colored attacks with the opponent in order to deal more damage. Along with this, the great sense of movement is incorporated since dodging is key. Ammo is limitless so switching between colors over and over is never limiting. When enemies are weakened enough you can activate your grappling hook in order to try and rip out the opposing robot’s core. This will trigger a short, tug-of-war style minigame in order to finish them off. This will also heal you slightly and add to your inventory of loot. Along with your partner robots helping to fight, these brawls can become quite interesting and dynamic.
Unfortunately you will spend a lot of your time with ReCore not in combat and instead in the lifeless, desert landscape. The game gives you all this maneuverability but doesn’t let you do a whole lot with it. The map is huge and isn’t filled with any life besides enemy robots. There is even a height restriction to the map so adventuring up a huge hill will see you running into unexplained hazardous zones that only exist to gate the player in. Too much time is spent running from one side of the place to the other, trying to reach the next dungeon. With such massive expanses, exploring for additional loot and collectibles becomes tiresome. Traversal becomes monotonous and a huge drag by the end.
This tedium is the crux to what is so wrong with the game. Due to all the bugs and extreme load times you are faced with so much bland and boring moments that any enjoyment is drained. Every load is roughly two minutes (or more) in length and dying in combat or falling off a cliff will cause the game to reload. This gets worse when (on so many numerous occasions) I found myself falling through the game world when, for whatever reason, the floor ceased to exist. Areas where I respawn above a pit of lava instead of a safe surface (like you’re supposed to) and being treated to a lengthy load time gets old real fast. Every death, usually due to one of the many bugs is partnered with this annoying waiting period. It’s almost offensive that probably 25% of my time with ReCore was sitting at a loading screen.
To make matters worse, the ending of the game is a boring collection fest. Up until the final area you collect Prismatic Cores at a steady rate to move you forward. This last zone asks for you to hunt and crawl through the entire (most empty) world searching for more. It’s tedious and comes out of nowhere. This major change up makes the game feel like a whole third of it was removed and the developers needed something to pad out the last moments into a few hours. This wall of an objective left me with no patients.
ReCore is one of the few games I didn’t see to completion when working on its review. It started off great and with a lot of promise. The combat was fun and this style of platforming is few and far between. However, every bug and every accompanying load screen was yet another opportunity for my patience to wear thin. Towards the end of the game it became a chore to continue reloading my last checkpoint (if that checkpoint didn’t spawn me into a death loop). The final task of collecting everything in this world was too much to ask for how I had spent my time with the game and I had long ceased to have any fun. ReCore feels unfinished and unfair.