DeadCore – Review

DeadCore pulls absolutely no punches in being exactly what it wants to be.

A first person, speedrunning focused sci-fi platformer, it’s unabashedly everything it proclaims itself to be and doesn’t give a damn if you can keep up with the absurdly high performance requirements placed upon the player. So I guess it’s fair to say it accomplished its goals, that it became the game it was designed to be, but for all its gorgeous particle effects and impress sense of speed it’s so obsessed with being this monumental hurdle to overcome that it neglects to ever give you a reason to want to.

There’s no difficultly curve in DeadCore, just you and a brick wall of unintuitive level designs, agonizingly spaced out checkpoints, stiff controls, and everything that’s ever been a problem with first-person platformers. Its perspective is likely its largest oversight, as it makes it extremely hard to accurately jump onto minuscule platforms when you can’t see where you’re landing, and having to constantly look down to counteract this obscures the omnipresent series of instant death obstacles you have to simultaneously dodge.

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I never felt in control playing DeadCore. Every jump was a gamble, a roll of the dice deciding whether I miraculously made it through or would be sent back usually not knowing why I died, or feeling like I was being punished for things I had no chance of avoiding. It’s overwhelming and constantly punishing, to the point the idea that I would return to try to better my times was almost laughably ridiculous.

For as constantly as it reminds and urges you to make your own path, progression in DeadCore is unrelentingly strict. Any diverging paths usually boiled down to an occasional fork in the road or making an impossible jump that might have saved me a few seconds, but I was always trapped in this impenetrable obstacle course. Level designs are obtuse and at times forced me to do things that felt like I was breaking the game because there was no other discernible way through. The purity of its mechanics is then lost as I unsuccessfully tried to perform the tasks set before me as the game continued to tell me I was either doing it wrong, or not doing it well enough.

Final Word

When I finally made it to the top of the tower I’d been ascending throughout the game, my sigh wasn’t one of satisfaction that I’d finally managed to overcome the seemingly impossible obstacles that stood in my way, but one of relief that I’d never have to go through them again. I have no doubts that there are people DeadCore will simply click with, who would tell me I’m just bad at it and if I would only give it more of a chance I’d begin to enjoy it. Be that as it may, completing DeadCore just once was such an unbelievably stressful and frustrating experience that I can’t imagine willingly taking on that task again, and would feel sick with myself if I recommended anyone else do so anyway.

DeadCore was developed by 5 Bit Games and is available on PC, Mac, and Linux via Steam for $9.99.

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