Published on October 12th, 2016 | by Luis Acosta
Recore: Hit or Miss?
ReCore is one of the most frustrating games I’ve played in a long time, and not because it’s overly difficult. ReCore offers a lighthearted, fun first few hours, but all that promise is quickly buried in a torrent of a myriad of bugs and oversights, poor storytelling, and disjointed pacing that all make the game a pale shadow of what it could have been.
Joule is one of a handful of maintenance workers on a desert world called Far Eden, cryosleeping away the decades while an army of “corebots” terraforms the planet into a lush garden world suitable for the remnants of a plague-riddled humanity to settle on. The rest of the people are also in stasis aboard ships in orbit, as far as Joule knows, but she wakes up way past the terraforming deadline to find Far Eden is still an arid waste and most of the corebots have been up to no good. Joule and her trio of friendly robotic helpers set out to try to get the planet-building gear back up and running, and figure out what’s going on with all those bad bots. Joule’s robot buddies are endearing as all heck, and even with no discernible dialog they show a ton of personality just through their body language. But there aren’t really any other meaningful players in the story, nor any significant story development at all. Along the way there are a couple of intriguing revelations about the terraforming effort and the state of affairs back on Earth, and the idea of robots rebelling against their creators and dooming humanity’s last hope in the process is interesting on its face, but the game so profoundly fails to reach a satisfying conclusion about any of this that, having finished ReCore, looking back on the game’s initial premise just makes me feel sad.
Setting aside the quality of the game, ReCore at least serves as an encouraging start for Microsoft’s “Play Anywhere” initiative that will get you access to both Xbox One and Windows 10 versions of all first-party games from now on. In contrast to the much-maligned Games for Windows Live, it was a cinch to download ReCore and launch it from the Start menu, no extra login or overlay nonsense required. The game ran beautifully on PC, detected my Xbox One controller, unlocked the same achievements (although I never got any notifications for them), automatically switched to headphones when I plugged them into the controller’s headphone jack; it pretty much delivered the seamless convenience of a console once I was in-game. The game’s incredibly long loading times and shoddy frame rate on Xbox One make the PC version your best bet if you have a decent system, actually. It’s too bad Microsoft couldn’t manage to launch this effort with a more complete game than ReCore, although this positive first experience bodes exceedingly well for Forza Horizon 3 and Gears of War 4.
It would be so much easier to dismiss ReCore if it were just a bad game in every respect, but the sad reality is that taken individually, every one of the game’s design elements shows thoughtfulness and craft. The combat, platforming, crafting and customization, even the parts of the story that work were clearly built with care and seem like they’ll amount to a really engaging game with a lovable cast of characters and an intriguing world, but the game’s rampant problems are just impossible to look past. This game deserved to be so much more.