There have been few first person puzzle platformers that have really grabbed my attention. Notably was when the dulcet tones of Stephen Merchant graced our screen as Wheatley in Portal 2 and also when Faith took to the skylines of Mirror’s Edge. DeadCore certainly has a lot to live up to.
Kicking things off, DeadCore starts strongly. The Tron-esque environments are right up my street and the speed and fluidity of movement made me sit up and take note. Hopping about is as fluid as the jumping mechanic of Unreal Tournament; you can even throw in a double jump, perfect for correcting a misjudged leap.
A ‘switch’ weapon unlocks new paths and can open up obstacles, while also showing your current run time on the readout display. At times you have to be quick too. Some obstacles require you to activate/deactivate them mid jump. On paper it sounds like a great addition to the game, but for some reason the aiming was just off. Numerous times I missed a shot and I’m no newbie to shooting.
As you get higher in the tower – nervous of falling – my jumps became a little more laboured and my palms became sweaty, all for knowing that a chasm laid beneath me. There is of course nothing to worry about and a simple press of the Y button respawns you back at the last checkpoint.
Spinning tunnels catch you in their rotation and really disorientated me as I tried in vain to find the next platform, making me super nauseous in the process. I detested this mechanic, which I wrestled with rather than something I enjoyed besting. Later in the game, moving lasers are thrown in, accentuating how cheap I found the puzzle mechanics of DeadCore. I was so bored by their ‘challenge’ I accepted the trial and error nature of the game and just jumped in hoping to fly past the barriers. I became very agitated while playing DeadCore. Great for some adrenaline platforming junkies but for me it’s a dead ’no thanks’.
It’s not all bad though. Some jumping sequences are truly stunning, giving a real sense of exhilaration as you fly through the air from pad to pad, double jumping mid air to change your trajectory but DeadCore takes place in a soulless world. Despite is cool Tron feel; I was left with an empty feeling. There was no sense of reward or achievement at reaching the top of each tower. It’s a great concept, but fell way short of what I’ve come to expect from the games I play.
As much as I enjoyed the jumping mechanics of DeadCore, overall I found the game more frustrating than enjoyable. Nervous adrenaline of the fear of falling and traps that felt cheap, make for a trial an error method of gaming that I just couldn’t engage with. DeadCore is made worse by the sense of a lifeless puzzler; there are no characters and no narrative to engage with.
When DeadCore flows, it flows very well but more often than not, this is short-lived and hits a roadblock of cheap obstacles. Rather than challenge, these obstacles throttle the game and I became disengaged from its limited charms.