A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this game.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that ReCore: Definitive Edition is a sci-fi action-adventure game with a strong, likable, non-sexualized female lead in Joule, one of the only humans on a planet full of robots. She has to fight some of these robots in intense action sequences, but only the aggressive ones. Bright explosions replace the blood and gore seen in most shooters, though at one point Joule encounters a pile of dusty old human bones. It's a challenging game that demands practice and perseverance, but most players should find the precise, well-tuned controls for both combat and movement easy to master. Note that players who own the original ReCore simply need to download a free update to upgrade to the new version of the game.
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What's it about?
RECORE: DEFINITIVE EDITION is an upgraded version of the original ReCore, a sci-fi action adventure starring a young woman who wakes up on a planet that was supposed to play host to a human colony only to find it barren and populated with aggressive robots. She embarks on a quest to find out what went wrong and to see if she can set things right. The core of the experience remains unchanged, with play alternating between acrobatic environment traversal -- Joule can jump and dash huge distances through the air with great precision -- and frenetic combat against predatory machines, which demands quick situation analysis and speedy, strategic weapon selection in order to prioritize and efficiently deal with changing threats. Players also have control over a growing roster of friendly robots, including a spider, a dog, and -- new for this edition -- a smiley-faced tank-like bot called T8-NK that Joule can ride around. Other additions to this version include an original side story, a fresh location to explore, and additional enemies, weapon mods, and bot upgrades. The entire game has also been remastered in 4K with support for HDR, and benefits from several technical upgrades, including shorter load times.
Is it any good?
The original ReCore was a good game that Microsoft rushed to market before it was ready, but this remake is, happily, the game the original should have been. ReCore: Definitive Edition's most important improvement is simply that it fixes several experience-destroying technical issues, including reducing the once minutes-long loading of screens between levels and respawns to just a matter of seconds. Returning players will also notice far fewer instances of Joule falling through floors and special abilities suddenly ceasing to work, plus a much improved fast travel system that makes it much less of a pain to move around and complete or switch between missions. All of this means it's much easier to enjoy not just the original adventure, which always had fantastic platforming and pretty good combat, but also the new content, of which there is plenty.
The most notable addition is T8-NK, who makes for a smart and fun addition to Joule's squad of robot aids, helping her traverse gaps via jumps while also providing a quicker means of getting around some of the bigger free-to-explore areas, although he can be a bit finicky to control in closed quarters. The new story -- Eye of Obsidian -- and the environments in which it takes place (including loads of new dungeons) provide plenty of places in which to exploit T8-NK's special talents. And the new areas and increased level cap provide players with good opportunity to experiment with all of the new mods and robot gear that can be earned. The crafting system is still a bit on the basic side, and a greater emphasis on the story and characters would have been appreciated, but ReCore: Definitive Edition is a welcome and impressive update that helps this once almost broken game come close to reaching its full potential.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about gender representation in games. Is there anything about Joule's behavior that would identify her as a woman if you couldn't see or hear her? Would the game have been substantively different if it had a male hero?
Talk about artificial intelligence. Do you think that Joule's robot companions should be treated as though they were alive? What criteria should we set for giving basic rights to nonbiological intelligences?
- Platforms: Windows, Xbox One
- Price: $19.99
- Pricing structure: Paid (If you already own the original version you need simply download a free update to upgrade to the Definitive Edition.)
- Available online? Available online
- Developer: Microsoft Game Studios
- Release date: August 29, 2017
- Genre: Action/Adventure
- Topics: Great Girl Role Models, Robots
- ESRB rating: T for Violence
- Last updated: June 19, 2019
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.