Also On: PC
Publisher: Microsoft Studios
Developer: Armature Studio/Comcept
It didn't take long for ReCore to leave a bad impression. My first time playing it lasted approximately five minutes, ending when I entered a cave that was only half-finished. And I don't mean in a fourth-wall-breaking, Portal kind of way; I mean it was literally only half there, with a vast void of nothingness where the rest of it should've been. I died a moment or two later, since the waypoint signaling where I had to go next was in the midst of that void.
My second try didn't go much better: just a short way past the that aforementioned cave (which, thankfully, was now fully rendered) I somehow managed to kill all the enemies before they could seriously wound my companion robot dog, which meant the brief revival tutorial didn't trigger properly and the game just kept flashing that I was supposed to revive the dog that was bounding around me happily. While I didn't die this time — after all, there was nothing around to kill me — I did need to start the game anew in order for it to progress.
My third attempt at playing ReCore proved to be the charm, but as beginnings go, it's hard to think of anything that could possibly have been more inauspicious. And, of course, "charm" in this case is somewhat relative, since even if the game didn't full-on break, it still suffered the occasional glitch that reminded me that it featured more than its fair share of bugs. The world around me had a tendency to pop in and out of existence, while enemies would regularly show that walls and ceilings were more suggestions that actual boundaries, judging from the number of times they traversed through them as if they weren't even there.
Unfortunately, ReCore's issues don't end with the ones that are kind of hilarious. For example, it has horrible loading times. Whether you're booting the game up, going in or out of a cutscene, or simply trying a section again after your character has died, expect to wait, and wait, and wait some more. Occasionally the game will surprise you by simply going neatly from one segment to the next, but more often than not, it won't.
Likewise, ReCore has atrocious camera controls. Generally, this isn't something that you'll notice, since for the most part the game doesn't try to overwhelm you with enemies. The second action gets a little intense, however, prepare for that camera to be actively working against you, as it doesn't rotate nearly fast enough, nor does it know what to do when you're locked on an enemy and it jumps over you.
That last sentence is actually kind of funny now that I think about it, since the game also has no problem just randomly switching your enemy locks if more than one gets in your field of vision. When the enemies are easy to kill, that's not so bad, I suppose — it makes killing them all in a hurry kind of fun — but if they require more than a shot or two, forget it: it becomes an exercise in frustration and wasting your ammunition. (Not that it doesn't regenerate fairly quickly, but doesn't do that quite fast enough when you're on the verge of being overrun and the game has decided it wants you to suddenly change from one target to another.)
Even ReCore's signature move is an exercise in frustration. In theory, you're supposed to wear down your enemy's defenses, click your right stick to latch onto their core, and then yank it out. Unfortunately, that yanking is super-finicky, with a sensitivity that's so finicky and unpredictable it makes you want to throw your controller across the room.
If you've made it this far, you probably think I hate ReCore. To be sure, its frustrations and annoyances — and straight up bugs — are so egregious, there's no way I could possibly recommend it. But I don't hate it, necessarily. I think that when things are going right, in those rare moments when you can just enjoy the amazing-looking scenery and not have to worry about wonky cameras or enemies popping through walls, it looks like a pretty cool game. Those moments, alas, are few and far between.