Our 50 best games of the year countdown isn’t in any order, we’re just going through fifty of the finest the year has given us. Find out more here.
Keiji Inafune was perceived as one of the greats, one of the best in the biz, but recent troubles with Kickstarter project Mighty No. 9 and the sister projects around it, his reputation has been tarnished significantly. ReCore seemed to be his Phoenix from the ashes but received a lukewarm reception. This game has issues, some of which are very frustrating, but the larger game in hand feels pretty fantastic.
Earth has been ravaged by the ‘Dust Devil Plague’, forcing humanity to form civilisation in a far-off land. Accompanying Joule Adams to this planet were several robotic machines, whose purpose was to an environment fit for human survival known as Far Eden. However, during the colony’s cryosleep period, the Corebots became corrupted and, led by Victor, set out to create a world for themselves. That world is one of the best and worst things about the game. In a literally lifeless landscape, surrounded by sand, rocky formations and zoomorphic death robots, Joule and her trusty Corebot sidekicks travel for great distances between things to do. The open world is large and sparse, speckled with dungeons to delve into, large rock formations to scale and huge mechanical devices to explore, all in the search of the elusive Cores.
In order to access new areas, dungeons and the end of the game (more on that later), you’ll need to collect plenty of Cores along your way. This can be done via special objectives in dungeons, defeating certain enemies and unlocking chests by finding several key-Corebots. All of these tasks are very enjoyable and made even greater by the mechanics. The way it feels to glide through the sand, or to just cling onto that ledge you thought was just out of reach after a double jump and double horizontal boost. Learning about different ways to access areas intuitively instead of being force-fed tutorial after tutorial was refreshing and you are rewarded for your exploration. The acrobatics are enhanced by the parts of the landscape only accessible to one of the Corebot frames and being able to switch between two of these plucky creatures ensures that you can always have one for combat and one for discovery. I cannot emphasise how good this game feels to play.
There is a small amount of customisation in that there are parts to be found in chests and dungeons that give your Corebots stat boosts, and these stats can also be increased by collecting core shards. That’s the limit of the customisation though. For a game lacking in density, it would have been a good idea to give players more to do between dungeons and having the main character limited to one outfit and one weapon seems a tad short-sighted.
While this is a list of the top 50 games, and I wholeheartedly believe that ReCore belongs on that list, it cannot go without saying that the pacing near the end game has the potential to ruin your entire experience of the game. Without going too heavily into spoilers, there is a multi-level dungeon at the end of the game but each level requires more and more Prismatic Cores to access them. Until this point, the amount of Cores required to access areas had been fairly low so to cause your playthrough to come to a screeching halt several times right at the end of the game is simply ridiculous. Here’s a hint, and you’ll thank me later for this: Get 50 Prismatic Cores before going to the center of the map.
Despite these pacing issues, the game mechanics and the movement are some of the best of this year’s collection of top notch games, rivalled only by Inside and Doom (and Titanfall 2, so I hear). Do not be deterred by the weak endgame of ReCore, as shooting up bad bots with Joule’s Rifle and zipping around Far Eden with Mack, Seth and Duncan is so very enjoyable.
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