GAME REVIEW | DeadCore
Platforming sections in first-person games can be notoriously hard if they're not done well. Spotting platforms while you're jumping and nailing targets mid-air is tough as nails, but if the controls are tight enough it can feel really good. DeadCore has you steadily climbing a tower full of deadly traps and giant leaps, but as through the adversity of making it through this gauntlet, you will eventually feel like a first-person god of platforming. Not every section is strong, but what is there is challenging enough to really make you feel like you earned it.
Light on the side of story, DeadCore simply has you climbing a mysterious tower filled with floating cubes and obstacles. Though the story is certainly not the draw here, that's not to say it's completely absent. If you manage to peek around the right corners from time to time, you'll stumble across collectibles that fill in the story a bit more. These come in the form of journal entries that detail your experiences climbing the tower and being just as confused about what's going on as you might be in real life. To be honest, I didn't put much effort into trying to put together the full story, because the real draw for DeadCore is the intense first-person platforming action.
Jumping around is first-person is difficult. Throw in the insane obstacles that you'll find in DeadCore and it can sometimes feel almost impossible. DeadCore is a first-person speed-running platformer and it's damn hard. This is both a strength and a weakness for the game, because of the peaks and valleys of difficulty spikes. You might occasionally feel like you're starting to get the hang of a certain mechanic and then find yourself banging your head into one sequence for over a half hour. It can be disheartening, but if you manage to push through, nothing feels better than finally conquering that tough section.
The game is split into five different levels, each of which introduces a new mechanic. I won't spoil all of them here, but I do want to talk about two of them. First off is a dash move that they give you pretty early on. Mainly used to cross longer distances, this one is used quite brilliantly and once you have it, it's difficult to imagine having played the game without it up to that point. The other involves shifting the gravity. I could see some people enjoying this possibly, but in a game that is already disorienting, it adds an extra layer by rotating the direction you're in and unless you're playing very close attention, it's really hard keep track of where you're headed.
After clawing my way through the main campaign relatively slowly, I decided to go back and try that first level again. This was the moment that I remembered that DeadCore is actually a speed-run game. In spite of struggling my way through that first time, when I went back I felt like a god, blasting my way through like it was nothing. As it turns out, practicing something several times over makes you really good at it and this is precisely what DeadCore is actually doing during your first play-through. It never lets up, making the challenges all the harder as you progress, but through this effort you end up pretty darn good at the game if you've managed to get to the end.
Before I give DeadCore too much credit, let's go back to those sections where you get mercilessly stuck. The game does very little in the way of explaining what you should be trying here, with the only tutorials being a random assortment of words floating in the air to nudge you in the right direction. A little more tutorial, centered around the main mechanics specifically, would have prevented many a situation where I nearly threw in the towel. Some of these sections are hard to the point of not being fun at all and they really hurt the flow of the game. Thankfully, I'm stubborn enough that this wasn't an issue, but I could easily see others who don't have the time or patience to feel frustrated like that bouncing off of this game due to these sequences.
- Succeeding at difficult sections feels really good
- Puzzle mechanics are used smartly throughout the game
- Visuals are simple, but look great
- Could have used some better tutorials
- Gravity shifting sections are less fun
- Difficulty curve sometimes swings way too high
Platforming in first-person games is a pretty divisive mechanic. If you hate it, then I can definitively recommend that you pass over DeadCore. If you're up for a challenge on the other hand, then DeadCore might just be the game for you. It doesn't explain itself very well, but overcoming the obstacles it sets upon you is far more satisfying without the extra help. DeadCore is available now for the PC, PS4 and Xbox One. I played the PS4 version when doing my review.
Promotional Consideration provided by Outrageous PR.