When I play games I always enjoy a good old-fashioned slice of run and jump style gameplay. From Assassin’s Creed to Mirror’s Edge, developers have perfected this game technique while pushing the envelope of tension and set pieces. As I walk through my home streets, I’m sometimes tempted to climb the local shop to see if my gaming skills have transferred to real life. Then I remember that my back hurts when I tie my shoelaces, so I leave the jumping firmly to the gaming world.
DeadCore is all about running and jumping, with a little bit of some Portal style shooting thrown in. But does it live up to the quality found in the greatest games or is it just like my damaged back?
DeadCore is a hybrid of a speedrunning game with some first person platforming, and a bit of puzzling action thrown in for good measure. If I had to compare it, I would say it’s pretty close to what is found in Mirror’s Edge, with a splash of Portal and a whiff of Super Meat Boy… all set in a futuristic world of spinning platforms, deadly lasers and huge towers. It’s your job to get to the top of the tower in a safe and sensible manner. Scratch that, it’s bloody chaos. In order for you achieve this goal you have a number of simple controls to help you. You are basically running in first person all the time, very much like Mirror’s Edge. The jump button is the left trigger and pressing it twice gives you a double jump. The right trigger operates the gun you get that helps you open doorways, or switch off traps for a short time.
But first up, I feel I must talk about the jump mechanic, which is the staple mechanic of this game.
Straight away, with the jump being placed on the left trigger, things feel strange, weird and it is damn hard to get used to. It just doesn’t feel right – a bit like wearing speedos in a paddling pool. You also have to be pinpoint accurate in your jumping skills and this is where the game lives or dies with a potential consumer. If you like your games hard as nails, where the way you improve is to die countless times, then this is the game for you. If you like high energy, heart attack inducing, ‘throw the controller through the window’ action packed gameplay, then this is still the game for you. If you want to keep your sanity, like a story and prefer to take the easy life with Animal Crossing, then look away now for there is nothing for you to see here.
It’s a difficult game and this difficulty ramps up right from the first level. And then when you get gifted a gun it seems to get even harder.
The gun is used to unlock doors or pathways, as well as being essential for temporarily disabling turrets. It’s a nice included feature that really adds to the whole tone of a highly skill-based game. The level design is simple, but effective, and the environments are cleverly designed by the devil himself. There is a lot to do here and after completion, you have the option of taking on a speedrun of each level – but only if your heart has withstood the main story. Talking about the main story, and it really isn’t the focus here, but there are nice little atmospheric and poetic logs you can pick up along the way, giving an abstract notion of the world the game is set in.
In the looks department things are very strong, with some lovely backdrops found in DeadCore – all coming with a hint of the futuristic and a bit of a Destiny vibe about them. The colours and shading are well utilized and drawn, and it’s an interesting world to spend some time in. The audio is a steady dose of trance and electronic house, all of which helps you speed along through the levels. You can even make a playlist of your favourite tracks, using them as company for when you hit the speedruns.
Overall though DeadCore most definitely has the marmite effect. You will either love or hate speedrunning games and that will probably decide whether you like this or not. The same goes for whether you get on with skill-based games that see you die a lot. You need a heap load of patience and nerves of steel, as well as a love of electronic trance music to really fall for DeadCore. Personally, I think the cheap price means that it is well worth taking a punt on, even if I find the whole first person jumping experience too tricky and not particularly effective for landing accurate jumps. You see, a lot of my progression was through sheer luck rather than skill. But hey I’m old and my back hurts when I tie my shoelaces, so what do I know?