ReCore takes players on a journey through the barren world of Far Eden as they control lead character, Joule, as she explores the world with her Corebot companions. Along the way players encounter enemy bots and discover secrets to new core technology that allows them to progress through the game. Collecting cores is the primary goal as there are blue, red, and yellow cores that allow the player to upgrade their Corebots while Prismatic Cores allow them to advance to new locations. There are many dungeons to be found here!
I made good use of the new Xbox Play Anywhere feature as I began my ReCore journey on Xbox One before switching over to PC through the Windows 10 store. I bounced back and forth a couple of times just to experience it sync from console to PC and found it to work flawlessly. I did spend most of my playthrough on PC as I wanted to run it at 1440p with maximum video settings. I also did this to avoid the horrible load times experienced on Xbox One.
ReCore is set in a desert with much sand and many rocks making it very bland to look at right from the start. There isn’t anything too artistic that stands out in these locations. As a whole, the game isn’t the most detailed either. Visually it can seem rather plain, but that does fade slightly once the dungeon exploring begins. It’s within the dungeons that more colors are used and the shadows and lights make a bigger impact on the screen. That’s when ReCore ends up looking its best, which is especially nice for PC players running max settings and higher resolutions.
I spent the majority of my time playing the PC version and noticed a lot of bugs within the game, but nothing that hindered the gameplay outside of two issues. The first issue is that there is a brief stutter in performance when taking screenshots or unlocking achievements. The second issue is that I became stuck on two different occasions when traversing across locations.
ReCore is an open world game that allows players to freely explore. There is a limit though that is usually met by radiation that can kill the player if they venture to far up a mountain or along a cliff. Usually this keeps players in check, but it didn’t stop me from getting stuck twice. I then had to fast travel back to my ship and then back to the location and start over. I never lost too much ground though, so it’s not that bad, just an inconvenience.
Other minor problems I’ve encountered are texture popping issues seen in the distance, distorted shadowing textures, and load screens flickering like crazy during the initial load. These are problems that should be fixed, but can be overlooked in the meantime.
The last technical nitpick I have with ReCore is during scenes with Joule speaking at the same time the camera moves around to show a new location. During this occurrence, as the camera moves away from Joule, her voice will fade into the background as well. Thankfully there are subtitles, but this annoyed me anyway.
But alright, enough of the not so good parts of ReCore. It’s time to move to the heart – or should I say the core – of the game and what makes it a fun experience. It’s time to talk about the gameplay!
Throughout the journey Joule collects 4 different weapon attachments that each represent a different color (Grey, Red, Blue, Yellow). When the player encounters an enemy Corebot on the battlefield it’ll feature one of those four colors. So players must switch to a color attachment that represents the enemy Corebot they are fighting to inflict the maximum amount of damage possible. Otherwise, if players are firing blue ammo at a red bot, it’ll take a lot longer to destroy.
The color aspect keeps the player thinking during each battle which is an element I appreciate a lot. I like fighting a blue bot with blue bullets and then quickly switching to red bullets to take on the red bot. Also, there tougher enemies – bosses – that switch colors during battle to keep players on their toes.
What makes the battles even more unique is that each bot features a core that Joule can rip out with a hook. Taking cores from enemy bots is performed through a tug-of-war mechanic where players use the right joystick to tug it out. In most cases players must weaken the enemy before they have a chance to rip out the core, and even then there may be times when it’s unsuccessful. There are also situations when the player can sneak attack an enemy bot and immediately rip out the core without doing any damage first. I actually somehow managed this on one of the bosses. It was pretty awesome to be able to do that, but then it made the boss fight feel a little anticlimactic. Oh well, gimme your core!
I really enjoy the fighting in the game even though the shooting is done through lock-on controls that don’t require the player to aim, but instead be in the general vicinity. Players have two types of shots, the basic automatic firing and then a charge shot that does more damage and breaks shields. So the difficulty doesn’t come from aiming, it comes from understanding the situation and knowing when players must use automatic firing or a charged shot.
Joule’s friendly Corebot companions also play a big part in the fight as well as they have special attacks that they can unleash on the enemy bots. While they automatically engage with the enemy anyway, the player can press a button to have them strike at their selected target which helps weaken the enemy a lot quicker.
What also makes the combat a lot of fun to play is the movement controls. Maneuvering Joule is great and easy to do as she has a double jump and boost feature to get around dungeons and avoid enemy fire. This is just as good in combat as it is in the platforming elements featured throughout the game. I absolutely love the controls which work great with the combat, making it that much more entertaining.
But the best part of ReCore are the true stars of the game, Joule’s Corebot friends. There are three companions used throughout the game that feature their own unique capabilities. Players begin with Mack, a bot that represents a dog that digs up hidden items in the ground. There’s also Seth who can navigate railways of some sort that makes platforming and getting from point A to point B a lot faster and much more exciting. See the video below. And lastly there is Duncan who can power through blocked doorways that typically lead to new treasures.
There are many items lost in the sands and hidden deep within dungeons that are collected throughout the journey. They are used to research parts and upgrade Corebots to make them stronger and more effective. As players get even deeper into the game they will discover more parts that allow them to transform one of the bots into a flying bot that players can connect with and float to new locations.
ReCore progresses along very nicely in this aspect of unlocking new abilities and features to further explore the world. This keeps the player interested as they get deeper into the game. This also makes it necessary to revisit locations two or even three times.
Exploring new dungeons is a lot of fun as there are different types to experience outside of the main storyline dungeons. Some of them require the player to fight their way out and others must be traversed like a platformer. These dungeons usually have secondary objectives such as completing them within a specific amount of time while also collecting a key and shooting certain number of switches. These are certainly entertaining challenges that I absolutely love, especially the traversal ones. And they always lead to good loot.
When it comes to the side quest dungeons players must locate nearby hidden cell bots to unlock them. This actually became a slight annoyance of mine as locating them isn’t always the easiest task. They are often sticking out of the sand or laying on a rocky ledge, but I’ve encountered a few areas where I just couldn’t locate the last cell bot to unlock the dungeon. I understand the need to further explore the surroundings, but this just got awfully tiresome when all I wanted was to quickly get out of the sandy world and back into another dungeon.
There is a storyline and a villain to give players a reason to fight and discover. However, it’s a disconnected experience that isn’t received well at all. It’s leaves the player to just simply react to the situation rather than feeling engaged with the story. “OK, so that just happened…Next!”
ReCore certainly has its issues, but I appreciate my time spent playing it. It’s nice exploring new dungeons and collecting items to further upgrade my Corebots. It’s also fun because of its style of combat and moments of navigating platforms, especially when using Seth to slingshot from one railway to the next. Plus, there’s plenty of discovering to do in order to obtain all Prismatic cores that are required to enter new areas. So as long as the player is interested, this can keep them playing for quite a while.
I also found ReCore to be a pretty casual experience with not much of a difficulty spike at all until players travel to a location where higher level bots are roaming the sea of sand. But outside of all my nitpickiness and the fact that it doesn’t do anything too special, ReCore is still worth checking out for its gameplay which provides enjoyable moments that fill my core with happiness.