Game review: ReCore plays like a tribute to such classic platformers as Metroid and Mega Man

The third-person action platformer with a female heroine adds to the Xbox’s strong collection of first-party titles

PUBLISHED : Friday, 16 September, 2016, 1:01pm
UPDATED : Friday, 16 September, 2016, 1:00pm


Armature Studio, Comcept Inc.

4 stars

In ReCore, you are Joule Adams, one of the last remaining humans on a planet called Far Eden. You have a gift for combat and creating friendships with an odd assortment of robot companions. As the leader of this ragtag bunch, you’ll guide your brave troop on an adventure through a mysterious world.

Maybe its because I’m a Star Wars fanatic, but upon starting the game I felt that Joule was a video game version of Rey from The Force Awakens and her robot companion Mack was a more helpful version of BB-8. That certainly grabbed my attention.

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While ReCore (for PC and Xbox One) engages you immediately with a likeable protagonist and her adorable friend, it doesn’t waste any time on exposition. Instead gamers are immediately thrust into the action without much explanation. “What is this planet I’m on? Who the heck are these characters? Why is this robot dog barking at me?” are questions you may ask yourself. Don’t worry about it. Just have some patience and trust that the game’s developers are leading you in the right direction.

Of course, it doesn’t hurt that one of those developers is Keiji Inafune, the legendary video game producer known for his work on the Mega Man, Resident Evil and Dead Rising franchises. Inafune has his fingerprints all over ReCore. Gamers familiar with Capcom’s underrated Lost Planet: Extreme Condition, another Inafune-produced title, will see several tips of the hat to that third-person shooter in this game. This is a good thing.

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ReCore is not an amalgamation of Inafune’s previous work, however. Instead gamers will see something unique but with influences from several other titles. During my play-through I could see bits and pieces of Borderlands (aesthetically), Metroid (Armature Studios’ lead designer Mark Pacini worked on the series) and even Destiny (get your loot on). Don’t be mistaken, ReCore is a unique title and fully stands on its own. But playing through this 2016 game, upgrading, exploring and fighting robot enemies, it’s easy to feel the impact of those games imprinted on it. It also makes for something ridiculously addictive. A retro style given to a modern game just kept me coming back for more.

Despite being enjoyable, ReCore likes to play coy, which can be a bit annoying. This game refuses to give up its secrets easily, preferring to make you earn everything you learn about the characters. For old-school gamers like myself, I didn’t really mind being a bit confused at first. But contemporary gamers may find this an exercise in frustration. This is not a game for impatient people.

Further muddying the waters are some technical issues. Visually the game can look sloppy at times. Game menus appear out of date, character models lack sharpness and load screens are time consuming. This gives ReCore an unpolished feel. None of these issues significantly impacted my enjoyment of the game but the message is clear – the focus here is on gameplay, not a mind-blowing game presentation.

Still, ReCore’s clever blend of platforming, combat and puzzles make for a title that’s hard to quit. Minor issues aside, ReCore is another great addition to the excellent roster of first-party games that calls the Xbox One home.