Deadcore has been on PC a few years now, but it’s finally arrived on home consoles with the promise of hardcore first-person platforming with plenty of attention at speed-running.
For those that aren’t aware the art of speed-running is getting through a game as quickly as posisble, a quick youtube search will find you thousands of videos on speed-runs for just about every game and some are nothing short of amazing, many speed-runners dedicate their playing time, live streams or even lives to getting through games in the fastest time possible and DeadCore is a perfect game, crafted to, and enginered for speedruns.
Starting off you’ll find very little direction, a large futuristic structure floating in a void. You look around to see scattered instructions, ‘Tower’, ‘Climb’, ‘Answers’, Summit’ So with so little to go by, naturally you start making your way towards the summit. Soon enough you’ll realise this isn’t portal, and while you will wield a weapon soon enough, it will require far more twitch-reactions in the first ten minutes than Portal did in the entire game.
Precise jumps, random blocks and platforms scattered all over the place, and only blue beams give any direction of where to go, occasionally you’ll come across the refreshing view of a re-spawn pad that will give you a reset position for one of the many times you’re going to die.
DeadCore is a brutal, challenging and frustrating game, while at the same time it’s fun, addictive and incredibly rewarding.
There’s no fancy fan-fare, celebration or party music when you complete a section, and between levels you’re simply greeted with a level summary screen before moving on to the next area, this toughness is intentional and you’ll find more than enough reward and satisfaction each and every time you hit a new checkpoint pad, for a few short seconds before you venture on to the next challenge.
DeadCore centralises around exploration, movement and precise jumps. On your first playthrough you’ll want to get to grips with the movement as quickly as possible, and thankfully the button-to-command response is near instantaneous, While I’ve not played it on PC, I think it’s safe to say controls would be a little easier on mouse and keyboard, but the control pad doesn’t feel unfair and will not only test, but also improve your button handling.
Playing through a little more of the game and you’ll start to find collectables, these range from back-story Logs to help explain the bizarre world around you, but also new music tracks, sparks and most importantly Skills to help you navigate the world accurately and faster.
The first is the aforementioned ‘weapon’ called the Switch Gun, this is used (often while hurtling through the air, during a split-second window) to switch objects, activate boosts, deactivate trooper blocks that seek to push you away or open doors. There’s also a much needed dash move for helping to clear large distances or squeeze through tight spots as well as (Gravity) G-Mod and Blast which further change the dynamics of progression.
Certain parts are impossible without the relevant skill, but even with your complete arsenal of tricks, DeadCore is one of the most difficult pick-up and play titles I’ve ever encountered and while, with enough practice a simple complete playthrough will take you less than an hour, it’s the constant progression, finding new routes, discovering the flow and rhythm required for near-impossible jumps that shave seconds or even minutes off your time.
Speed running fans rejoice, because this game was made for you, but even if you’re not a fan of replaying the same game a hundred times to beat your fastest time, DeadCore is still appealing to so many others, fancy a good challenging game you can pick up for ten minutes and still feel like you’ve progressed, or if you just want something different to the norm then there’s certainly plenty for you here and you only need to have a quick glance on YouTube at a few of the many speedrun videos and you’ll find new routes and possibilities that didn’t seem possible before.
Graphically, you can’t expect too much from a game that’s merely well-placed blocks floating, rotating and sitting just out of reach in a void background, but the dark, mysterious style is carried out to perfection, you still wont be quite sure what’s going on even after spending hours with the game, but there’s a constant mystery about everything and the small logs do a great way of adding to the hidden background of DeadCore.
There’s certainly a gold star next to the sound, with some equally mysterious background music that helps set the stage perfectly, sounds of knocking and metallic whirring help the with the realisation that there’s a giant maze developing as you progress and yet there’s still a lonely feeling of emptiness with nothing more than metal around you in this sparse world.
The greatest achievement of all, has to be the price, at little more than £6, DeadCore is what a game should be, not trying to milk every last penny from a release, but a game at a price that’s fantastic value and well worth every penny, even if a little short in actual length, there’s plenty of play as you retrace your steps to discover completely new routes and master your movement.
DeadCore isn’t a game for everyone, but Speedrun fans, and those wishing to test their platform or twitch-reaction skills to the limit will find a very rewarding experience with DeadCore. It’s frustrating and will test your patience, and rage-resiliance, but the approachable and addictive nature will keep you coming back for more and more.
Gameplay : 8.5
Graphics : 8
Sound : 9
Story : 7
Value : 9
Overall : 8.3 / 10