Deadcore is all about getting from A to B as quickly as possible, and is described as a game that’s a love letter to those of you that enjoy speedrunning. In terms of a story, there’s very little of that within. Instead, the game rests much of its strengths on fast paced and solid gameplay that has you traversing some mind boggling environments that wont just keep you fast on your toes, but tests your reflexes to the limit. If your hand-to-eye coordination is (like mine) somewhat lacking, Deadcore with either make you or break you.
Deadcore has some truly intriguing map designs, and the art design on the whole is just as commendable. The game has a futuristic vibe to it, in which almost instantly you’re tasked with reaching the top of a tower that’s floating above what appears to be an endless vortex-like drop. The surroundings are filled with floating platforms, bounce pads, and other gravity defying contraptions that you’ll swiftly need to make friends with. Deadcore doesn’t offer up much of a tutorial, but you are indeed given some light instructions, which helps to keep you from feeling out of your depth.
Before long, you’re gifted with a multi-use rifle. This gun is without a doubt one of the coolest and most innovative weapons I’ve witnessed in a game for a good while. You see, it’s not just about timing your jumps or free-running your way to the next objective, nope, you’ll need to rely on your trusty new weapon. You’ll be using it to unlock doors, blast at pesky turrets, and activating jump pads mere seconds before you land on them. I can only describe the gameplay (save a few mechanics) to fall inline with Mirrors Edge, only not quite as well rounded. Don’t get me wrong, Mirrors Edge was far from perfect on this score, but Deadcore even less so.
Precision and timing is key for a game like Deadcore, and despite my best efforts to gel with the controls, I just couldn’t bond with them as well as I had hoped. The game was initially released on the PC, and when you take into account that mouse and keyboard support would have been the backbone of the experience over on the PC counterpart, it’s hard to drown out the fact that a controller trails behind on console in regards to responsiveness. This is a game that massively relies on quick thinking and pinpoint precision, and when the analogs just don’t offer the same breathing room or freedom in comparison to the mouse, the trade off is sadly an added layer of difficulty.
Make no mistake about it, Deadcore is not for the impatient. The game comes chock-full of harsh jumps and white knuckle landings that will push your frustration levels to the limit. The game does come with a fairly lenient difficulty curve, but that’s not to say that it’s one you can comfortably rest up on. As you make your way up the tower, you’ll slowly be introduced to a wide range of progressively difficult environments to take to. The jumps tend to be quite lengthy, whereas the platform you’re typically given to land on is barely big enough to tap dance on. Add the fact that you’ll regularly be forced to contend with added functions that will either try to murder you or push you over. It’s an enjoyable experience, if indeed one that aims specifically at those that dabble in the genre frequently.
Deadcore doesn’t often demand that you keep up any form of momentum, but if you’re skilled enough to make it through a decent portion of the game without dying, there’s a lot of potential for it. There’s a lot of replay value to be found within, especially for those that enjoy honing and sharpening their skills to complete a game faster than a previous run. Sadly, this is something I just couldn’t find any enjoyment from, or at least in the long run. To begin with I was constantly impressed with the design and the structure of the game, but seeing as though Deadcore has been crafted in such a way that requires you to learn by your mistakes, it’s exactly here where the game began to fall flat.
I can forgive a game that wants to punish me for not fulfilling a set task, or a game that wants to push me hard into learning the ropes, but here it just feels somewhat too forceful. Mercifully when you do die, you’re thrown immediately straight back into the action, and thanks to a generous checkpoint system, you’re never far from your last failed attempt. In any case, it felt counter-productive to some degree, having to constantly trial and error in order to eventually succeed. Again, much of this is simply down to the issue with the lack of mouse and keyboard support, because regardless as to how you pace yourself in Deadcore, the controller feels a tad out of place, almost as if it fails to keep up.
Visually, the game looks impressive whilst you’re in constant motion. If however you slow down, not only will you be greeted with some bland (sometimes ugly) textures, but you might even suffer from a bug or two along the way, such as getting stuck in the environment or falling off a platform for no apparent reason. Deadcore bears all the marks of a decent formula. The shooting mechanics bounce off the core movement system well enough to justify a unique experience, but it’s one I feel, as aforementioned, is better suited on the PC platform. The developers have definitely got something here that can provide both innovation and depth, but they clearly need to work on marrying it to the console base. In any case despite the faults, the game comes in at a very generous price, so even if you invest and dislike it, it’s hardly going to break the bank.
Deadcore is an interesting game that houses some decent features and mechanics. Sadly the entire experience is held back by the controller, in which it just doesn’t seem nearly as suited for the game as mouse and keyboard. The bugs that persist when you stop to compose yourself further hinder the other wise enjoyable run, and this is dragged slightly further down by the bland visuals that stand out more when you stop still. There’s certainly a lot of fun to soak up within, but this is clearly aimed at those that enjoy both the genre and speedrunning. It does come in at a very generous price, so even if you feel robbed of your time, you’re hardly going to feel robbed of your money. There’s a decent challenge and some replay value to pull from Deadcore, and the sci-fi world is well realised (when on the move), but again this all depends on how much forgiveness you’re willing to shovel out.
This game was tested and reviewed on Xbox One. All of the opinions and insights here are subject to that version.