On The Edge Of Perfection
Happy Weekend TAY!
And a happy long weekend to my neighbours to the south and to anyone else (wherever you are) if you have an extra day off.
I’ve been sick since last Friday with a terrible cold that my kid and wife had for a full two weeks. I’m feeling markedly better today, so I hope I still don’t have another week of sickness still in store.
I finally finished up with ReCore last week and it ended up being a truly amazing game. It is probably in the conversation of my favourite 3D platform games of all time.
ReCore was incredibly rewarding and satisfying to play. It isn’t perfect and has some minor issues, but it was thrilling the whole way through and I was sad to see it end (but my hands were relieved).
My favourite platform games are ones that demand a lot from my reflexes and timing, but they also have to be as unforgiving as possible while still remaining enjoyable. This is a hard order to fill given the varying abilities and level of persistence of different gamers, but for me, ReCore checks all the boxes I want from a platform game.
I kept coming back to God Of War (2018) when I was comparing the vibe I was getting from ReCore. The two games aren’t that similar in gameplay, but the dance they make you do with the controller is immensely satisfying. ReCore’s combat isn’t as cool as Kratos’ whirlwind of death and destruction, but God of War is a brawler at its core design. ReCore is a platform game first and foremost, but its dance is no less dangerous.
ReCore was a sweaty and swear-filled experience with a keen sense of accomplishment and a thrill of victory with almost every task. It really is some of the most clever platforming I’ve ever played. It nails the precision of an Ori and the Blind Forest or Guacamelee but in a fully realized 3D environment. I would be hard pressed to think of a more challenging 3D platform game that handles this well.
In ReCore, you have a variety of companion bots that can be upgraded and modified for different attacks and buffs. Like Atreus from God Of War, these companion AIs fight all on their own but you can issue limited commands to them in combat and they act as keys in various ways throughout your journey. This is where we get to the only beef I have with ReCore.
Recore’s only glaring problem stems from a hint of backtracking fatigue due to the odd implementation of your companion robots. I think as combat companions, the five bots are generally interchangeable with a huge array of possible buff and attack combinations to fit the players’ style. However, each of the five corebots also acts as their own key...and you can only have two bots with you at any one time. This means a lot of time is spent going back to waypoints to switch up your bots to enable you to collect certain loot or to reach specific areas.
This backtracking can be a little irritating when you are required to do a lot of controller gymnastics, with gruelling timing, only to reach the summit and discover you need a different corebot to collect your reward.
In God Of War, you could generally push on with any configuration of abilities with Kratos and Atreus and you only needed to switch things up when you were levelling up your abilities or selecting new equipment. Joule and the corebots of ReCore aren’t so versatile and you’ll hurl a few curse words at the devs for their cruel placement of treasures. I generally stayed in good humour even with this bot switching issue. The game is such a joy to control and it was intensely fun (and nerve-wracking) to get to a treasure location only to be denied my prize. I can imagine the devs laughing at me as I had to repeat the exercise again but with different bots.
ReCore definitely isn’t for everyone and my praise for the game seems to be in the minority. Microsoft screwed this one up releasing the original game in a terrible state and most of the complaints of the original are with the load times and other technical issues. ReCore: The Definitive Edition apparently fixes most of the problems. I can’t say I ran into any more technical issues with ReCore: The Definitive Edition than I did with God Of War and it felt extremely polished throughout.
It is a shame, it looks like the Definitive Edition of ReCore was hardly noticed by the press and both the Xbox One and PC version are still TBD for a score on Metacritic due to their lack of reviews.
I highly recommend ReCore: The Definitive Edition on PC. I can’t speak to the Xbox One version, but the people who recommended the game to me were playing it on Xbox One and enjoying their time with it. I have to believe that the insane demands of ReCore’s platforming are improved by a better framerate on PC (much like God Of War’s combat is improved while running in Performance mode on the PS4 Pro) but I’m sure it is equally enjoyable on any platform.
ReCore is an absolute must-try if you like your platform games with a side of S&M. If you have Game Pass, you have nothing to lose by loading it up.
Speaking of pain and pleasure, I’m in the midst of configuring and testing out Agony UNRATED [sic], but this game has the most broken gamma configuration utility I’ve ever seen. The game has very dark visuals and the correct gamma settings seem essential to the game’s atmosphere. Hopefully, I’ll have a chance this weekend to gather some internet solutions and suggestions on how the game should actually look.
So, what are you playing this weekend?