Jak and Daxter was the first PlayStation 2 game I fell in love with. The vibrant levels full of interesting creatures and challenging platforming enraptured me, and I’ve lost count of how many times I have replayed the title.
Although the sparse deserts of ReCore are far from vibrant, the game captures the essence of platform adventure games like Jak and Daxter, taking me back to lazy afternoons on the PS2 (including load times so long that you don’t want to move between areas of the map unless you’re completely sure you have to).
My favourite character in Jak and Daxter was Kiera, the sassy, independent mechanic with the awesome hair. In ReCore, the equivalent of Kiera is not an occasionally seen NPC, but the game’s sole protagonist.
Joule Adams is one of the last remaining humans, sent to Far Eden as a scientist in the atmospherics department. She explores the yet-to-be-terraformed planet with her robot dog, Mack, and shows an aptitude for mechanics and for using her rifle. When she first meets Kai, another stranded scientist, he mentions that he’s glad he’s not alone; she agrees, while knowingly reloading that rifle in the most wonderfully independent way. Seriously, she is awesome.
To be honest, the Jak and Daxter parallels are a little dizzying, even down to the similarities between ‘power cells’ and ‘prismatic cores’. Reusable and needed to move between areas of the world, these sparkly resources are key to progressing through both games. However, ReCore does require a lot more shooting robots and a lot less herding yakows into paddocks, which could be seen as a good or a bad thing, depending on perspective.
Another thing Joule has that Jak doesn’t are her rocket-powered boots. The double jumps and dashes Joule performs makes exploring Far Eden feel unrestricted. Dungeons and challenges provide more deliberate platforming puzzles, while the ability to climb the open landscape adds a free-running aspect to the game. Attempting to explore ruins or cliffs that seem like they may just be part of the background almost always offers hidden caches and other rewards.
The freedom of ReCore isn’t always positive, as the game does expect the player to figure out a lot of things out for themselves. Although I knew that collecting shiny things was positive, it took a long time for me to discover what those resources were actually used for. Similar confusion and trial-and-error was needed with other game mechanics, and I never quite worked out the optimum method of upgrading my corebots.
Although there are a lot of similarities between ReCore and the adventure platform games that came before it, the title also carves out its own space in the genre. ReCore feels special, imbued with a certain energy that I haven’t felt playing a new release for quite a while.
I rate ReCore several cool platforming puzzles and an unexplained mechanic out of ten.