Far Eden, the distant planet on which ReCore is set, was once a place of so much promise. An escape for mankind after Earth is ravaged by plague, thousands of machines known as corebots were sent to terraform the surface as most of humanity slumbered in orbiting ships.
Joule, the game’s protagonist, wakes from cryosleep down on the planet to find that (predictably) very little has gone to plan. It’s not far from how I felt when playing ReCore.
Joule navigates the desert landscape on foot, leaping about with the help of rocket boosters. She is accompanied by three corebots which aid her in combat and solving puzzles with their different abilities. These bots help alleviate the complete feeling of isolation the game would otherwise have, which isn’t necessarily a good thing, but I liked having an adorable dogbot by my side.
The combat is comprised of a few systems, but there are two primary ones. The first is the colour system. Enemies appear in different colours (and sometimes change during battle) and by matching the colour with that of Joule’s weapon, more damage can be dealt.
The other major system is ripping out cores from corrupted robots, which can be done if Joule sneaks up on or weakens them enough beforehand. Extracting cores acts a bit like a fishing minigame, with the grappling hook changing colour to signify if the player should ease up or pull harder.
Really, these systems are pretty simple and feel like busywork, but in the early hours of the game, they were interesting enough to keep me going, combined with the joy of leaping about and exploring the barren yet strangely beautiful world as the mystery of why everything went wrong unfolded.
Sure, a lot of the story is told lazily through audio logs left inexplicably about the landscape, and tidy rows of floating collectables made things feel a little too gamey, but I was willing to overlook these problems.
But bigger ones eventually reveal themselves. Once combat becomes more frequent, it’s not just the mechanics that feel like busywork, but the fighting itself. Eventually I found myself just running past enemies, especially since they respawn when re-visiting areas. This is exasperated by a lack of enemy variety.
The problems don’t end with the combat. Missions are a series of “dungeons.” Many of these are side-missions (though the game forces players to finish some of them to progress) which offer abstract challenges that make no sense in the game world. The main missions are somehow even worse, which are comprised of fetch quests, key hunts, and tedious jumping puzzles. It feels like a platformer from 10 years ago.
There’s also a simple upgrade and crafting system, but again, it feels like busywork and doesn’t add too much to the game.
And that’s the real problem with this game: too much filler, not enough killer. It doesn’t become a bad game, as such, just a boring one. Which isn’t that much better.