ReCore is the first title to be released on Xbox Play Anywhere, Microsoft’s unified Xbox/Windows 10 platform. It’s set on a world called Far Eden, with the player controlling a character named Joule Adams and her initial Corebot companion, Mack. Without spoiling too much of the plot, Joule wakes up from her cryo-sleep trying to figure out the current state of Far Eden. If I had to pick two words to describe ReCore, it would be exciting and PC — no, not that kind of PC.
Primarily reviewed on: Intel Core i5-2500k, 16 GB 1600 MHz RAM, AMD Radeon HD 6870, Samsung SSD 840 120 GB
With the Play Anywhere feature, the player can switch between playing on the Xbox One and any of their Windows 10 PCs seamlessly. This feature works flawlessly, as I was able to switch between the Xbox One and my desktop or even my laptop and pick up exactly where I left off, as the game saves are stored on Xbox Live cloud servers. At the time of this review, I would highly recommend playing ReCore mostly on a PC. On the Xbox One, the game suffers from long load times between cut scenes, pulling up and dismissing the map, and deaths, as well limited frame rates. On the PC, I experienced little to no load times and an unlocked frame rate.
The experience of playing on the PC is simply more pleasant, especially for a game like ReCore, where dying multiple times in a short span can be common. In one particular instance, I was tasked with crossing a pit on small or moving platforms. Needless to say, I died…repeatedly. Experiencing the respawns on the Xbox One was incredibly frustrating. The game is exciting and I want to keep experiencing the actual game and not just staring at a small rotating circle at the bottom of the screen. On the PC, the respawns occurred almost instantly, allowing me to fall to my death even more quickly and repeatedly.
The dungeons are the most vibrant parts of the game, as they have the most variety and color. The open world is mostly desert-like with some buildings and construction cranes sprinkled in. Red, Blue, Yellow, and Prismatic Cores are a vital part of this game, and their designs are well done, with the exception of the Prismatic Core. The design of the Prismatic Core looks a bit cheap and lazily done in comparison to other elements of the game, especially for being such a key component. The AI Corebots are very well done and look wonderful. Encounters with the enemy Corebots are always pleasing to the eye and add a nice contrast to the scenery.
In terms of gameplay, this was a truly enjoyable game. It has elements of an RPG in terms of grinding and customization, but these go by at a relatively quick pace. While Joule’s character cannot be customized as her rifle automatically upgrades when she levels up, her Corebots all have a very nice set of customization options. Most of the grinding in ReCore will be to collect Prismatic Cores to unlock dungeons or progress through the story, or to collect different colored cores and blueprints to upgrade the Corebots. Grinding for colored cores to upgrade Corebots is a relatively quick and painless task as dungeons respawn exactly the same way every time you enter them, with the exception of special chests and bosses, and you can immediately warp out to your ship with ease at almost any time. I never felt like it was a chore or frustrating to upgrade my Corebot companions. It was also fun to see each of their personalities shine during the course of the game. I just wish the game did a better job at explaining how to unlock different parts for each Corebot. You can select blueprints to help target items on the map to help you obtain enough parts to build the blueprint, but there’s no mention of how to obtain new blueprints.
There was only one major glitch I experienced, and it was early on in the game. When I was on a cliff and looking down there was only an open space and platforms that were very clearly far away. I took a leap of faith and jumped off the cliff only to meet my death. On the respawn, the game rendered properly, because where the open space used to be there was now a small platform for me to jump to and lead me across the bottomless pit. This was a minor inconvenience that did not really hinder my gameplay much, but it was just odd that it happened considering I was playing on a PC.
The core appeal of ReCore is definitely the battles. Each encounter presented a unique opportunity on how to engage enemies. Instant extractions become a very fun part of the game when the opportunity is presented, as it brings a nice change of pace to the battles. Players can switch between different colored ammo to maximize damage and use their Corebot’s specials to help them in battle. The difficulty progressively gets harder as players have to incorporate jumps and dashes to avoid enemies, extinguish fires, and deal with status effects inflicted on Joule. There was never any enemy encounter or boss fight that seemed particularly difficult, but none of them felt boring, either.
Each dungeon comes with unique challenges that the player must overcome to collect treasure and complete objectives. Everything from collecting items to unlock rooms to solving puzzles to get to the next platform is refreshing. It keeps the game from getting stale, but the difficulty of the dungeons ramps up steeply in latter parts of the game. Side quest dungeons feature a mini time attack mode that offers players a reward for completing all the secondary objectives within a time limit. The grinding in the game is paced in such a way that the player can definitely fully upgrade their Corebots and get to 100% completion somewhat painlessly.
The score is superb. It really helps convey the different moods of different stages of the game very wonderfully. Everything from cut scenes to boss battles has music that really breathes additional life to the moment. The music never gets annoying or too repetitive to where I’d rather hear different music while playing.
However, there’s not much in the way of replay value. ReCore is very entertaining on the first playthrough, and I can see myself grinding in the middle to late stages of the game to upgrade my companions. But, after unlocking the different colored weapons, the companions, and all their abilities, I think ReCore would feel slow and boring on a second playthrough.
Without giving away too many spoilers, I will say the game’s story is really interesting at the beginning, but the payoff at the end does leave the player wanting more.