Developed by Comcept Inc. and Armature Studio (key makers of “Metroid Prime”), ReCore is an action-adventure shooter with some really interesting elements: companions, dungeons, challenges and an emotionally engaging story. Should you play it?
Developer: Armature Studio, Comcept
Publisher: Microsoft Studios
Available on: Xbox One, Microsoft Windows (tested)
ReCore narrates the story of Joule Adams, one of the first volunteers for the utopian Far Eden colony. She wakes up after hundreds of years in cryosleep only to realize nothing is going according to the plan. This is how our protagonist is presented.
In our journey we will meet different robotic creatures called Corebots. While they are supposed to be good, most of them will be corrupted and it is our job to discover why. Those who have not been corrupted will bond with us and help us in our mission. They will provide different abilities and help us traverse the world. We start with Mac, a robotic dog able to dig in key places and recover useful items. Later we will meet some sort of Spiderbot creature able to crawl along rails in different areas, and this is where the platformer side of the game really shines. I won’t spoil much, but there are more companions, and they will be able to smash things to unlock paths, or simply fly us and/or teleport us to different areas.
As Joule, we only have a riffle to fight with. It has four different types of ammo: white, blue, yellow and red, but they all share the same ammo pool. We can change the type of ammo on the fly, and it becomes fun and useful really soon. We are supposed to match our type of ammo with the color of our enemy to deliver extra damage and unique abilities. For instance, while using red ammo on a red enemy, we will deal extra damage. If we charge our shot, we can deliver extra damage and have a really high chance of setting them up on fire. This quickly becomes a love it or hate it mechanic. Fortunately for us the game auto-locks onto enemies so you can quickly swap thru targets and focus on the right type of ammo.
The enemies you face aren’t difficult alone, but when faced in groups, they can prove a challenge. Even the easiest boss is fun when you realize you are managing your ammo, targeting the right enemy, choosing the companion with the most useful ability for the current battle and dodging and endless number of bullets and abilities. To further expand this, our own companions also have different colors, so it is best to use Mac, our dog, in areas where enemies are mostly blue, while Seth, the arachnid companion has affinity for the yellow type and Duncan, our big robot able to smash rocks prefers the red enemies.
We can have up to two companions at the same time, and we can swap them with a really low cooldown. But if you happen to see a suspicious rock you can’t break with Seth or Mac, you will need to find a console to swap a companion. The more you progress in the game, the more companions and abilities you will get, so it is always useful to be alert and remember where is that air stream you can’t currently glide thru just now.
This is the very same thing you either loved or hated in the Metroid Prime series. Backtracking is a core mechanic, and most of the paths will be blocked until you can find more companions and/or prismatic cores. In dungeons, for example, you will have a set of requirements before being allowed to attempt them: you will need to bring specific companions, and you will need to have at the very least a specific number of prismatic cores.
The more dungeons you do, the more prismatic cores you will gather, enabling you to access harder dungeons. In harder dungeons you will find more companions, and with their utilities you will be able to unlock specific places in the world where you will gather more prismatic cores. It is a fun loop as long as you are enjoying the story and the game mechanics.
As a nice extra, while fighting games you will find parts, cores and blueprints. Blueprints will allow you to make use of the parts to craft better gear for your Corebots. You can combine parts to craft better gear, and the higher level gears will have an increased number of slots. You have three kind of slots: red, blue and yellow. The more core you use in the red socket, the higher the attack of your companion. Yellow will increase the defense while blue will increase the energy. This loop was able to hook me up and make me enjoy the game, but sooner or later you realize you will never get a different weapon, which is a shame. I get the fun in swapping ammo and companions to have a better chance at different bosses, but in the end you are always fighting with your rifle.
Mechanics wise, Joule is able to double jump and perform a short dash. You will find plenty of places to make use of these moves in Far Eden, especially when you start combining them with your companions’ abilities. Joule can also make use of a grapple to extract cores weakened enemies, which is optional, and prismatic cores from bosses, which is mandatory.
Each enemy has a shield, a health bar and a mark. You can stagger them by depleting the shield, using a charged shot or making your companions use special abilities. Once the shield is depleted, you start hitting their health. Once you reach the mark, you have the option to extract their core. If you decide to do so, some sort of mini game starts where you need to pull at the right time to not break the wire.
ReCore is the very first Xbox Play Anywhere title. This means that a single digital purchase will grant you access to both Xbox One and Windows 10 versions of the game. Even more, the progress is shared, so you are able to play it anywhere you want without losing your progress. That’s neat. I was able to Start the game in my Xbox One and swap to my computer without any kind of issue, enjoying a resolution of up to 4K and better graphics. The game runs smootly at 60 FPS at 4K with a single GTX 1080.
ReCore is a solid platformer with polished mechanics and fun combat. The companions are able to make up for the lack of additional weapons and the dungeons are varied enough to keep you going. A must play for action shooters and platformers fans.