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Game Reviewed: ReCore
Publisher: Microsoft Studios
Developer: Armature Studio
Platform: Xbox One, PC
Category: Platformer, Third-Person Shooter
ESRB Rating: T
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When Joule woke up from cryosleep, she knew things hadn’t gone according to plan. Far Eden was meant to be a home for humanity when Earth was no longer enough, but what she woke up to was a desert planet with ruined constructs and robotic wildlife roaming the wasteland. With nothing but her mission and a robotic canine companion, she sets out to find out what happened in the 200 years since she should have awoken and, if possible, set things right and make Far Eden inhabitable for the denizens of Earth before time runs out.
ReCore is a third-person platformer and shooter. The player explores the desert environments of Far Eden with one of a few robotic companions, defending themselves from hostile robots and restoring life to the abandoned facilities meant to terraform the planet. Much of the game is spent simply navigating the rough terrain of Far Eden, but robots will also attack Joule on the way.
Combat is centered around shooting enemies with Joule’s rifle, and the player can switch between different colors of energy which do more damage to robots with that same color core. In addition, her robot companions (a dog at first, with more that join along the way) can help in combat. The game has some mild RPG elements, most notably in the ability to find blueprints and use components collected throughout Far Eden to upgrade the robot friends as the player sees fit.
ReCore had some talent behind it, such as Keiji Inafune (notable for his work on Mega Man and the Dead Rising series) and Joseph Staten (writer for the original Halo trilogy), so it should come as no surprise that ReCore has a rather unique presence in the modern gaming scene. Let’s see how well it comes together, as well as how appropriate it may be for your children.
What Parents Need to Know
Far Eden is populated with a variety of robotic wildlife, some of which is hostile, and some of which are specifically programmed to attack you. The player will spend much of the game battling these robots with Joule’s energy rifle and the help of her own robot companions. As such, the violence is all inflicted on robotic creatures, and the only instance of human violence is when Joule is hit bloodlessly by an enemy.
None to speak of.
Joule cares very much for her robot companions, and her kind, caring attitude toward them is something to be admired. She’s an accomplished scientist, whose value to the story is in her expertise and strength of will, striving to make Far Eden a better place no matter the cost to herself. In general, she’s one of the better female role models we’ve gotten from video games in recent years.
ReCore is refreshingly old school in many ways, and frustratingly old school in others.
It feels a lot like action platformers of the PS2 era, and is highly reminiscent of games like the Jak and Daxter series in its process of play. This was clearly intentional, and it makes the game feel dated in ways both good and bad.
The platforming elements are very well-executed, and combat is simple but engaging, so the process of play is quite enjoyable. Similarly, while the story would have been better off embracing the dynamic between Joule and her robot companions (not to mention her complex relationship with her father) over the overly-simplified plot of the robot revolution, it still provides an enjoyable sci-fi tale with its fair share of cool ideas.
Unfortunately, it also falls back on a few unfortunate tendencies of the games of that era. Collection is overemphasized, and poorly-paced; there comes a point near the end of the game where the player is forced to scour the game world to continue, and this sequence takes up the latter half of gameplay time. It’s not enough to completely undo the good elements of the game’s experience, but it’s a pretty major flaw that keeps the game “good” without quite making it to “great.”
So with some reservations, I do recommend ReCore. It’s at once a unique and refreshingly dated experience with some cool ideas and enjoyable gameplay, and I can’t get enough of Joule’s adorable relationship with these robot friends. What’s more, the game’s T rating is little more than a formality on account of the game’s shoot-em-up gameplay, as there’s not really anything inappropriate for children; if your child has an Xbox One, this is one of the better child-friendly experiences on the console.