ReCore (PC) Review

The list of games I truly hate is very small. There are plenty of games I think are only okay or I personally dislike at the time, but games that truly hold a special spot of hatred for me are few and far between. When I jumped into ReCore, I was expecting a pretty good, but not great game that will at least be serviceable. Man was I wrong. This is ReCore, and this is one of the first times I have ever thrown things in frustration.

After Earth is left uninhabitable from a deadly disease, humanity went to space in search of a new home. They found a planet called Far Eden, and decided to set up shop there. Before they can do that, however, they had to send robots called corebots down to the planet to build an atmospheric processing facility, and while this happened the colonists were in cryo-sleep waiting for the job to be finished. You play as one of the colonists named Joule, who has awoken to find the corebots corrupted and the colonists missing. It’s up to you to find out what happened to the rest of humanity and bring the planet up to working order, all while fighting off corebots who are none-too-pleased with people.

When it comes to the story elements of this game, I found them to be mediocre at best. The plot is a very generic “you are humanity’s last hope” kind of ordeal, and the character you play as is very a very generic “we can do this!” kind of character. The few other characters you meet aren’t much better, as for the main antagonist is very one-dimensional and generic and the one other human you meet has very little screen time. What I found funny about the characters are that the corebot companions you have on your journey have more personality than the human characters, and I found them to be alright to hang around.

Throughout the game, you can hear a narrator explain what was happening while your asleep and fill in the blanks on how this plot came to be. While I appreciate the fact that they did this, I found that the world building and plot development that was made with these narrations ultimately didn’t matter because of how uninteresting it all is. Everything about the story and the characters is so basic and generic, I didn’t find myself caring about the world because there is no point in caring. In the end, the story elements make blockbuster action games look like a work of art because of how mediocre the experience is.

Quality.

Quality.

While the story elements only proved mediocre, I found my time on the gameplay side to be a wild ride in the worst way possible. It started out pretty dull yet inoffensive and turned into some of the most frustrating garbage I have played in years. Before I even start the game, however, I run into a technical issue: I can’t remap the keys. You heard right: a PC port where you can’t remap the keys. While the controls itself were okay, there were definitely things I would’ve changed. This issue speaks to a larger technical issue though. Throughout the game, I encountered many technical issues that ramped up in severity as my time went on with the game. Glitched checkpoints that send me back farther than I should’ve gone, clipping through the world, music that is off-sync with the gameplay, and much more. I’ll get into some more glitches as I go along, but as it stands the game is a technical mess.

It doesn’t take long to figure out all of the mechanics of this game, and unfortunately I don’t thing any one of them are executed particularly well. This is a third-person open-world game that has a very arcade-y style of controls. It is a mixture of platforming and combat with a Tomb Raider style of world design and involves going into various dungeons to pick up items (prismatic cores) that will allow you to open up new areas. The platforming is arcade-y while the combat is more RPG-based with various stats and levels with numbers popping off of the heads of enemies. So what doesn’t work? Nearly all of it. While I think the Tomb Raider world design is neat, this game decided to blow up each piece of the map and empty it out. Despite the small map size, Tomb Raider maps offer a compact experience while this offers a (literal) deserted experience. Oh, and did I mention you can’t put down any waypoints in this open-world game? The platforming is serviceable and even offers some neat new mechanics, but platforming outside of dungeons can prove to be rather annoying because there is no checkpoint system for it. Combat is the worst offender in this game by offering spammy “numbers” combat that’s all about trying to get the big numbers off of enemies. It felt out-of-place, but the worst part about it is the time-to-kill. I know this game accentuates less enemies that you take more time with, but each common enemy encounter can take minutes to handle. As the game goes on, the enemies level at a considerably faster pace than you, so each combat encounter takes even longer, but even at the beginning the combat was me shooting at dude for a solid minute moving around to avoid its attacks in the most boring way possible. At a certain point in the game, I chose to just avoid combat altogether, which slowed down my companion leveling but got me through the open world a little less painfully. Speaking of upgrades, combat leads to a neat mechanic that involves extracting items from them to quickly kill them and using those items to upgrade your companions. But that point leads to my next one: despite having RPG mechanics and the ability to upgrade and level up, you can only level up and upgrade your companions while you only level up passively. That’s right: you can’t upgrade yourself with new equipment or anything like that. While the upgrading system for the companions is cool and being able to swap cores between the robot bodies offers some variety, the fact that you can’t upgrade yourself in this game is mind-boggling.

Health bars! Numbers! What’s not to love?

Health bars! Numbers! What’s not to love?

Throughout the game, you come across dungeons where you progress the game forward. There are dungeons that are tied to the main story, and there are side dungeons. You can find companion parts, prismatic cores, and other things inside dungeons that will allow you further your progress of the game in some way, shape, or form. I found the main dungeons in the game to be pretty fun, though a bit too long. Side dungeons, on the other hand, were not as fun because of how basic they were. While the main dungeons offered a variety of gameplay elements to interact with, the side dungeons were nothing more than bad challenges. Dungeons are overall okay, but they do show the repetivity of the game: go around the world and pick up enough prismatic cores to unlock a door, which will open up a new area where you can pick up more prismatic cores and do the same thing.

After going through the gameplay loop, you finally get face-to-face with the bad guy who you have seen for only about a minute total and has no real motives other than “humans are bad.” This moment is much more significant than a bad boss fight, however, as for the game then transitions from being repetitive and dull yet inoffensive to outright frustrating. And what better way to start this ending pain train than to kneecap the momentum of killing the boss and be blocked by a door asking for more prismatic cores? So, after spending a few more hours painfully scrapping the bottom of the barrel for fast prismatic cores, I opened up the door to the final area, with no clue as to the world of pain I was about to enter.

The pyramid of pain.

The pyramid of pain.

Once you get past the door, you enter five floors of challenge rooms. It’s essentially a long path that is mixed with parkour and combat, and reaching the end of the path gets you to the next floor. Just from that description alone, it should be pretty obvious how repetitive the experience is. But repetivity is the least of my issues, as for the full force of poor combat systems and glitches come into play. I will start by saying I had little issues with the parkour sections. They proved only a little annoying and overall bug free, whereas the combat arenas prove to be a different story.

Over the course of the five floors, there are around ten-to-fifteen total combat arenas to deal with. It is a large square area that is walled off, and you fight off multiple waves to complete it. Towards the later areas, some modifiers are added into the mix like radiation which kills you slowly and the only way to get health is by extracting from enemies or electrical walls that zap you. One of the benefits of having large empty areas like in the open world is being able to move around freely; these arenas, however, are rather confined. What that often meant was multiple enemies attacking you in rapid succession, and you not being able to properly evade the fight. I cannot tell you how many times I have been immobilized only to have two other enemies start hitting me while I’m down until I’m dead. The combat instantly went from brain-dead easy to unfairly hard, thanks to the five floors. What certainly didn’t help are the technical issues, which I had a lot of throughout the five floors. Not being able to leave the combat arena despite killing all enemies, being infinitely immobilized after a certain kind of attack, radiation issues that would unfairly kill me, and many more that I experienced constantly. Mix all of what I just said with a lack of any good checkpoints (and even a few floor resets), and some the worst frustration I have ever had ensues. I usually have a cool head around frustrating games, but this is the first time I have ever thrown things out of pure frustration. What should’ve been a quick set of challenges turned into multiple agonizing hours of some of the worst content I have ever experienced.

Every time I reached this point in the five floors, I asked if this review is really worth the pain.

Every time I reached this point in the five floors, I asked if this review is really worth the pain.

After going through the five floors of Hell, you reach the end area, where you-and get this-fight the same boss but it is even bigger. This also presented its own frustrations and technical issues, but nowhere near the scale of the five floors, so all this ended up being was a pretty bad boss fight. After killing the boss, you get to see your dad, only to find out he is just a digital construct made by the prismatic cores you have been picking up. After about a minute of catching up, he leaves. Yep. Bye Dad. This is soon followed by finding out the one other human character you meet survived the attack by the main villain and found something incredible…for another game. Yep, it’s a bad ending and a cliffhanger ending wrapped up into one. What more could you ask for?

No game would be complete nowadays without DLC, and this game has got some. I start by doing an extra dungeon which gets me a new companion that I can ride. It’s the thing I wish I knew about earlier and would’ve saved me some “running in the empty desert for five minutes” troubles, but I am glad that I at least have it now. Shortly after, I take my vehicle and ride it over the one big piece of DLC this game has. Soon, I am entangled into a new story and a new area that follows…the robot made for fast travelling. Instead of following up on the cliffhanger ending, the DLC focuses on the robot character the developers tried to hard to make likable so that one day they may sell plush toys. The story wasn’t bad and the new character was interesting, but I would’ve preferred following up on the cliffhanger.

After the repetitive grind of the main game and the five floors, the last thing I wanted was more repetitive, grindy gameplay…which is exactly what I got here. The entire DLC consists of doing a race with your new companion (who by the way, has terrible vehicle controls), going through a dungeon and picking up a new weapon attack type (which proved troublesome to cycle through), and repeating the process two more times. After that, you fight the boss of the DLC, and then get treated to another laughably bad ending. The new character decided to sacrifice himself to save you, which would’ve been a touching moment if not for the fact that the core is still intact, which means that the character didn’t really die.

In conclusion, I don’t think ReCore is a bad game; I think it’s a terrible one. The fact that the game being dull yet inoffensive at the first half is the best thing I can say about it should be quite telling of the quality of the game. The story is boring, the combat is infuriating, the world is empty, the technical issues are stacked a mile high, and the RPG mechanics make no sense. Any aspect of this game that isn’t terrible only proved to be serviceable at best, and the amount of frustrating moments I have had in this game can’t even be counted on two hands. ReCore is a game you should absolutely avoid at all costs, and it could very well be the worst game I have ever played.

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