ReCore is my current video game addiction. It’s a cute little third-person shooter, with a young woman named Joule and her robot puppy Mack going on all kinds of adventures. The world is a planet where the terraforming has gone bonkers. So have the local machines, which attack Joule at every turn. Those are the mysteries Joule needs to solve, in desert-like environments where she and her Corebots are constantly kicking up dust as they shoot and platform from place to place.
The first hour of ReCore, I thought, “Okay, this is fun.” By the second hour, I was totally hooked. I’m now about six or seven hours in, and I can tell you that between the hundreds of gamerpoints I’ve acquire through Xbox achievements — overkill, sure, but I’m not complaining! — and the fast-paced action, I definitely recommend this game. To some people. But the game has its faults, which become more apparent the longer you play.
I’ll be presenting a full game review in video format soon. But for now, here are the pros and cons I’ve discovered in ReCore.
The combat in ReCore is a blast. Sometimes literally. Shooting is Joule’s main means of action, and she can swap between four weapons with different elemental colors. For instance, if she comes up against a “red” enemy, using the fire-based red weapon is her best bet. Some battles involve multiple enemies of different types, so hitting those D-pad buttons to switch weapons is a constant that keeps every fight exciting. She can also fire a charged shot that does extra damage. While there’s no ammo, it’s possible to overheat your weapon with too much fast firing — but cooldown is mercifully quick as soon as you lay off the trigger.
Joule can also command her Corebot to attack the enemy, doing quite a bit of damage. Mack, her puppy-like Corebot, is her initial companion. However, she acquires additional Corebot companions as the game progresses, and she can switch between them to deal more damage. For example, if one Corebot is out of energy, she can instantly swap to another to continue their attacks.
I’m not good at platforming. Maybe it’s my timing. Maybe it’s just fear of falling. Maybe I don’t push buttons on a controller very well. But I am just the worst at platforming.
That being said, platforming in ReCore is a huge part of the gameplay, and it’s not overly challenging. I say that because instead of failing at 80 percent of the platforming, like I usually do, I only failed about 60 percent of the time. So that’s something.
Joule can double-jump, boost (like a dash, either on the ground or in the air), and use one of her Corebots to swing from place to place. Moving platforms and rings that provide extra boost and jump power make things more exciting. Combine that with obstacles like rolling electric balls and a ground that lights on fire, and you have platforming that’s very near difficult. It was for me, anyway.
Despite having my fair share of frustrations due to my lack of skill in this department, I have to say that the platforming seems really well-done and fun in ReCore. If you’re into platforming, you’ll probably like the way it’s set up here.
Crafting Your Corebots
Exploration is key in ReCore, because loot is all over the place. Taking down an enemy, Joule can either extract its core (to level up her Corebots’ stats) or kill it through shooting, which leaves its parts behind in the form of hardware Joule can collect. Meanwhile, supply caches contain blueprints for Corebot parts, such as a set of legs or a head with high stats.
At any time, Joule can go back to her Crawler (her homebase) to research these blueprints and apply them to her Corebots, making them stronger. This crafting system is extremely simple, which is a plus. I enjoy crafting in games like Skyrim, but I do not enjoy digging around in my inventory, doing what feels like complex math to put together a set of armor. Fortunately, ReCore keeps things simple — and that means faster rewards.
I call this bad stuff “dusty” because it all comes down to the game’s map working against you. Which means you kick up a lot of unnecessary dust.
The first few hours of the game, the action felt fast-paced and fun. Almost too easy — but I won’t complain about a game that’s breezy to play! However, after about four hours, I noticed a steep jump in difficulty, because my Joule and her Corebots were underleveled. The reason is that I hadn’t explored every dungeon, fought respwaning enemies again and again, or returned to the Crawler to level up my Corebots. You need to do those things to succeed in this game.
This adds that grinding element to the gameplay, which I am never a fan of. If I need to grind to level up in a game, I don’t want to know I’m doing it. ReCore hides nothing there. It’s very repetitive.
Backtracking from the Crawler
Any time you want to apply an upgrade to your Corebots, you have to return to the Crawler, your homebase. You can do this instantly via the pause menu, which is really convenient. The problem is you can’t insta-travel back to your last location on the map. There is some fast travel, but it’s very limited. Usually you can just return to the general area where you were before, then retrace your steps back to your last location. Since the world in ReCore is fairly expansive — at least in terms of the footsteps required to traverse it — not being able to return to your last location after crafting is really frustrating. It even makes me want to avoid returning to the Crawler. But then I’m underleveled.
At least retracing my steps back to my objective forces me to fight the same enemies again, since they respawn. There’s that grinding again.
Another Unopenable Door!
Besides that, ReCore‘s gameplay is justified by opening doors. When you come to a new area, you have to open a door to get in — but to open the door, you need a certain number of cores or cellbots. Since you probably don’t have enough of those on you, you need to go back to dungeons to collect them, or explore the area to pick up the local cellbots and bring them back to the door with you. This causes lots of unnecessary backtracking — since, again, the map’s fast travel points are few and far between.
Limited Crew Size
Lastly, you collect more than two Corebots in the game, but you can only have two in your crew at any time. That would be fine if the Corebots were interchangeable. However, each has a unique ability that you may need to get through a section of the game. For instance, one Corebot can help you climb areas otherwise inaccessible to you, while another can smash levers that nobody else can. That’s cool at first glance — but the game doesn’t tell you what’s coming up.
As an example, I once equipped two of my favorite Corebots for a mission, but after backtracking through the environment to my objective, I discovered that I needed the other Corebot to smash a lever. You can’t switch out your Corebots any time from the main menu — that would be way too convenient — you have to do that at your Crawler or at one of the limited fast travel points.
So, in this case, I returned to my Crawler, swapped out my Corebots, and then made my way all the way back to my objective — for the third time, by the way, with respawning enemies and all. I then proceeded to hit a lever that showed me a door that I didn’t have enough cores to open…
That’s where I’ve left the game, actually. I still have at least an hour of gameplay and story left, I believe — but I’m guessing it’s going to require a few hours of grinding to get through. I’m still enjoying the combat and platforming overall, but the game’s map, crew size, and high-level enemies have really slowed ReCore down in these last hours.
If you guys are curious about the game, keep an eye out for my full video review, with gameplay, later this week! =)