ReCore is a new IP from the mind of Mega Man creator, Keiji Inafune. Developed in collaboration between his team at Comcept and the team of former Metroid developers at Armature. While the game definitely draws inspiration from Mega Man and Metroid, there are definitely aspects of ReCore that remind me of other great games as well – such as Zelda and Tomb Raider. It is a well-crafted and fun adventure, even if it is a tad short or a little rough around the edges. The result is a game that might not be for everyone, but a game that everyone should definitely give a try.
The story of ReCore follows Joule, who awakens alone on the planet of Far Eden with her trusty sidekick and robot dog, Mack. Both Joule and her father had traveled to Far Eden with the intention of terraforming it. If successful, the planet would be transformed from a desert wasteland into a rich and tropical world to rival Earth. However, something has gone terribly wrong while Joule was in stasis and nothing has gone according to plan. She must now venture out into the vast deserts of Far Eden, searching for both her father and the answers to what has gone wrong with the terraforming process.
The main draw of ReCore comes not from Joule herself, but from the companions she adds to her team along the way. Her trusty robot dog, Mack, is great at dealing damage to enemy robots who have become corrupted by an unknown influence. However, he can also be commanded to search areas and dig up supplies or other items of interest. Each companion has their own unique uses, which are vital to Joule’s progression in the game. The robot spider, Seth, for example – can be used to ride or climb on rails that are scattered throughout the world of Far Eden and allow Joule to reach otherwise inaccessible areas. Another robot named Duncan, who appears to be a sort of mechanical gorilla – can be used to bash or break down barriers, while also knocking over objects and creating bridges for Joule to reach new or higher areas that seem out of reach.
ReCore’s combat is a ton of fun and progressively becomes harder as you make it into later portions of the game. Joule herself is equipped with a rifle, which is powered by regenerating ammo and thus, does not need to be reloaded. It is not infinite however, as shooting for too long will cause the rifles ammo to deplete and force Joule to wait a short time for the gun to recharge. The rifle can shoot different types of ammo as well, which are color specific to the enemies encountered within the game. Yellow enemies should be shot with yellow ammo. Red should be shot with red. Blue with blue, and so forth – to deal maximum damage. While Joule can only shoot white ammo at the beginning of her adventure, she will acquire upgrades over time that allow her to change the ammo colors.
Enemy robots are patterned after different animals as well and maintain unique attacks of their own. Some enemies can set Joule on fire, which must be extinguished by using her dash ability. Other enemies can shock her with electricity or slow her down. When this happens, the player must tap a certain button to free her from the effect before resuming combat. Joule’s robot companions can be commanded to attack enemies as well, and each companion also possesses a super ability, known as a Lethal attack, that deals massive damage. How many times and how often these abilities can be used will ultimately depend on the companions energy capacity. Mastering ReCore’s combat and finding the right balance of dealing damage between Joule and her companions is essential to making short work of enemies and achieving victory.
Everything technological on Far Eden is controlled by cores, which were designed by Joule’s father. Companions, enemies, and even bosses are powered by a core. Joule possesses a sort of grappling hook, which can be used to latch on to an enemies core when the creatures life bar has reached a certain point. Pulling the rope once it has attached to an enemy core brings the possibility of extracting the core. This not only vanquishes the foe, but also rewards Joule with the core. Collected cores can then be broken down into different colors of energy, which Joule can use to upgrade the attack, defense, and energy of her companions. ReCore’s boss creatures, on the other hand, are powered by prismatic cores – which Joule must extract and collect as many as possible to progress further in the game.
Prismatic cores act as keys, which are needed to open the doors to various dungeons and successfully operate the technology of Far Eden. Different doors require Joule to possess a certain number of prismatic cores. Attempting to open a door that requires five cores when Joule currently only has four, will prompt Joule and let her know that she must return with the correct number of cores if she wishes to proceed. Thankfully, prismatic cores are not only obtained from bosses, but also from certain treasure chests and optional dungeons that are littered throughout the world.
There are three different types of optional dungeons on Far Eden in addition to the main dungeons. These include Arena, Traversal, and Adventure dungeons. Each optional dungeon has a main objective, as well as optional challenges. Completing the optional challenges in addition to the main objective will reward Joule with extra goodies. Some of the best items in the game come from side dungeons, so they are well worth the effort. Arena dungeons are all about combat, tasking Joule with taking on enemies to achieve victory. Traversal dungeons require a great deal of platforming and precision to complete. While Adventure dungeons are more about puzzle solving and very much reminded me of the optional Tombs in Tomb Raider. The main dungeons, which must be completed to further the main storyline – are a combination of combat, platforming, and puzzle solving.
Moving about the world of Far Eden and taking time to explore is really a must. Not only because it is a blast, but also because there were multiple times in the game when Joule will reach a roadblock in the story – unable to venture further toward the ReCore’s conclusion until she gathers more of the prismatic cores to proceed. I actually believe this is a good thing, as it encourages players to branch out and search the world for more prismatic cores, or to complete a couple of the optional dungeons before moving forward. Traversing the world in ReCore is a ton of fun too, which is made possible by thoughtful level design, as well as Joules abilities to dash and boost jump. Collecting cores isn’t the only reason to venture off the beaten path and explore either, as there are a number of optional audio logs to be collected that contain messages from Joule’s father or other characters that expand the lore of ReCore. Also, there are mechanical parts and treasure chests with blueprints, scattered or hidden throughout Far Eden that Joule will need to research before crafting more powerful body parts for her companions.
Researching blueprints and crafting the parts that are needed is all done from Joule’s crawler, which acts as a home base for ReCore’s heroine. The world of Far Eden is vast and thankfully there are numerous fast travel points scattered throughout the world, which are run but a tiny robot named Violet. Whenever Joule discovers one of Violet’s fast travel points, she can transport back to her crawler or one of the other fast travel points that she has found previously. Returning to Joule’s crawler is not only a good idea for research and crafting, but also to clear out Joule’s inventory into her stash aboard the crawler. This includes both spare parts, as well as any cores she has collected while out on her journey. Once Joule has returned to her crawler, inventory is automatically transferred to the stash, making inventory management much easier.
ReCore may be a little rough around the edges, and the loading times when Joule perishes or fast travels to a different location are a little long from my taste. However, these things were minor and did not detract me from enjoying my playtime with ReCore. I absolutely love the games art style, and traversing around the world of Far Eden while blowing up enemy robots and collecting cores was a ton of fun. The level designs of the various dungeons are top-notch, and it is obvious that a lot of thought and passion was put into making them. I enjoyed figuring out ReCore’s puzzles and ways to access new areas of the game. My only real complaint is the game is a tad short and I wish it had been longer, so that I could have spent more time exploring Far Eden and upgrading my companions. ReCore is good fun and full of imagination, which is something that a lot of games are lacking these days. I sincerely hope that it gets a well deserved sequel and I look forward to my next adventure in Far Eden.