DeadCore isn’t the kind of game that needs a big introduction or rundown of what it’s all about. You only need to take one glance at it to see it’s a speed runner that challenges you to get from one end of the level to the other in as quick a time as possible. It’s a simple concept, but one that works incredibly well thanks to the anarchic nature of the game. Be warned though – if you’re not switched on with your twitch reaction skills you’re going to have a tough time. DeadCore doesn’t hold back and will have even the most experienced of gamers crying for help in its later levels.
Most of your time in DeadCore is spent jumping around at incredible speeds, all whilst trying to figure out where exactly you need to get to without getting killed in the process. There’s plenty of things to help you out along the way though, with countless boost pads that let you jump to magnificent heights as well as a special rifle that can be used to shoot open new pathways or clear out some of your deadly foes.
The rifle actually plays a big role in DeadCore since it can interact with almost anything you come across. Whilst it opens the aforementioned doors and momentarily immobilises any enemies that are giving you a hard time, it also needs to be used to enable or disable jump pads. Whilst it’s vital to use these jump pads to progress across levels, sometimes there’ll be a few ill-placed ones that’ll actually send you to your death rather than to where you need to reach. It adds some interesting FPS elements to the game, though the demand for quick reactions means you have no time to really line up a shot. You’ve got to be quick and accurate if you want to get to the end in as quick a time as possible, and man, that can prove incredibly tricky. Nothing beats pulling off that perfect shot mid-flight in order to shave a couple of milliseconds off your current best time though…
It’s a simple formula, but it’s one that works really well. DeadCore doesn’t do much to evolve the first-person speed running formula, but what it does offer is a lot of fun. That simplicity carries over to the game’s aesthetic too, with the sci-fi futuristic environments never proving to be eye candy, but providing a decent backdrop to your speedy exploits.
DeadCore’s main issue is that it’s a difficult game, with the later stages proving to be incredibly challenging for even the most masochistic of gamers. The earlier levels can be worked through with minimal fuss, but later on you’ll be shooting, jumping, and pulling off acrobatic turns all at the same time whilst trying to avoid the constant stream of hazards coming your way and attempting to land on the tiniest of platforms – believe me, it can become strenuous stuff. There’s a satisfaction that comes from overcoming these challenges, but the process of doing so might be enough to put off some players almost immediately.
It is possible to get through it all, though I’ll admit that I haven’t quite finished the game yet. That doesn’t mean I’m bored of it or fed up though, bur rather that I know when to walk away from it for awhile. The more you try (and fail) at a level, the more you’ll start letting small mistakes creep through. It’s a frustrating process, but one that can be difficult to overcome. Still though, I find myself returning to the game time and time again, and every time I come back I always seem to find myself overcoming yet another challenge. There’s no doubt that practice makes perfect, but the simplicity of the game means that stepping back in after time away isn’t just refreshing but also easy to do.
The game deserves some credit for getting you right back into the action though. Each time you die you’ll instantly respawn at the last checkpoint, ensuring you’re never kept away from the action for too long. Checkpoints are also pretty generous, so you rarely have to re-attempt a previously completed death trap after you’ve already overcome it. DeadCore might be an incredibly tough game, but it never feels unfair.
One thing that I’ve often seen with these speed running first-person titles is that they’re better suited to the quick controls offered by a mouse and keyboard on PC. Fortunately, I found DeadCore easy enough to get on with using the Dualshock 4 controller. I’d be lying if I said PC gamers wouldn’t find it easier, but I never felt like I wasn’t in control or that using the sticks of a controller was prohibitive to my progress through the game. It might demand a bit more finesse than PC gamers might be used to, but there’s no reason that you wouldn’t be able to play through the game with minimal fuss on console.
It’s incredibly tough and the daunting task of working across levels can grow a little tiresome over time, but I’ve really enjoyed playing DeadCore. I haven’t managed to conquer every level yet, but it’s got this addictive appeal to it that sees me coming back time and time again to try and reach the pinnacle. Whether or not I’ll get there is another thing altogether, but at least I’m having fun trying.
There’s nothing about it that’s going to blow you away, but if you want an enjoyable speed running title that’ll keep you entertained for a low price it’s definitely worth checking DeadCore out.
Developer: 5 bits Games
Publisher: Grip Digital
Release Date: 14/07/2017
Format(s): Playstation 4 (Reviewed), PC, Mac, Linux