Ever since the rise of Gaben and GLaDOS, the first person puzzle genre has significantly spiked in popularity. Simultaneously, futuristic science fiction worlds have also risen in favour with gamers worldwide. Like many others, 5 Bit Games creates their depiction of a futuristic parkour based puzzle title, with an emphasis on platforming and quick reaction. Whilst the control is tight and the difficulty seen as a traditional throwback; it suffers in one particular area: Deadcore has no purpose.
There is none. I can understand that an indie platformer doesn't have cutscenes, narrative or plot; but more disappointingly the game lacks any context – and therefore any purpose. It's purely level by level basis, with no setup, description or detail on the world or your purpose within it. The 'world' itself is a giant metallic structure orbiting a black hole, err, thing. There is no story within the visuals, design, enemies or landscape. A purely game created environment to experience gameplay in.
The gameplay in Deadcore is ultimately hit and miss. The moment to moment control and flow is great, whilst the level design is painfully dull and generic.
Hardcore is the word used to describe the platforming and basic design of this title. Old school and simple; Deadcore represents the very essence of its genre. With tight and minimalistic control, the gameplay is black and white. You either land on the platform or don't. With only a few movement abilities (like a useful dash move), all control is manual. Increasing the challenge furthermore is the fact that each level is spread about over a large area high above in the clouds, so the greatest threat to you is gravity. Just to troll you further; nearly all of the obstacles you face will attempt to push you off. Giant fans, moving platforms, angry robots – all will do their damnedest to throw you into the abyss. Thankfully the instant respawning to the last checkpoint will get you right back into the action.
As I mentioned, there are many obstacles in your path. Equipped with a rifle, firing will only allow you to interact with the environment (open boost pads, move walls, deactivate turrets) Meaning you are running, jumping and firing at super speed to avoid plummeting to your virtual death. Unfortunately whilst the control is fantastic and the flow of the parkour works surprisingly well even though you're constantly firing a gun; the levels and their consequent obstacles are extremely generic and cliched. There is just no excitement with uncovering the levels and their threats; no diverse tactics or experimentation is found here. You see a giant glowing circle and you shoot it. Not exactly mind blowing. As the game starts to layer further obstacles and increase the parkour requirements, the difficulty quickly ramps up.
For some, the challenge Deadcore offers is refreshing, some may say reminiscent of the old style platformers. But for many, including myself, the difficulty brings no variety or diversity, You are performing the same tasks, but just faster and in a more hectic space. A lazy way to impose challenge, and with no setting to change it or no system in place to adapt to player ability – you will likely hit a wall and give up.
It also lacks any additional modes or content. There are no meaningful collectables or modifiers. You could try to climb the leaderboards for the best time, but you'd be in the minority of players.
GRAPHICS AND SOUND
On an intial glance, Deadcore looks pretty solid. After some time though, you will quickly feel the murky, ugly presence the title settles in. The main problem I keep circling around is the inspired design presented here. Metalic, grey and blocky, there's not a lot that can be done to highlight the potential of this environment. The colour palette is limited and the textures are flat; the only admirable artistic vision is the black hole below. But you probably won't get a good look at it, due to constantly falling into the centre of it.
As a side note, the game also runs iffy on the PS4. The frame rate is 30fps and sometimes dips below this. For a reaction based title with a low-quality engine and graphic input; this is yet another disappointment.
There's barely any sound, and what is here is lacklustre, a generic futuristic soundtrack that could be muted and not be missed. Unsurprisingly, beyond the firing of lasers, there are no other ambient or environment sound effects.
To say Deadcore is a failure is incorrect. For the price and the simplicity of its difficulty, maybe some will get a kick out of sitting down with some friends and challenging each other to get the furthest or quickest record. But, when placed against other titles, it severely lacks characters or personality. Sure, it's a video game at its purest form, however, it doesn't propose any advancements or improvements to the titles it's inspired by. Avoid, or wait for a deep sale.
|+ Ttight control||– Uninspired and lacks personality|
|+ Difficulty in its simplicity||– Murky and generic environments|
|– Mediocre level design|
|– Frame rate problems|