REVIEW: ‘Recompile’ Makes An Attempt To Set Itself Apart (PC)

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Recompile - But Why Tho

With the Metroidvania field crowded with so many classics, new entries must find ways to set themselves apart from the rest of the pack. Axiom Verge 2 did an excellent job of that by implementing a dimensional rift aspect, and Recompile attempts to do the same as an atmospheric 3D game. Recompile was developed by Phigames and is coming to PC, PlayStation 5, and Xbox Series X (available on Gamepass) on August 19th.

The story of Recompile is relatively interesting. Players take control of a semi-sapient program that is fighting back to avoid being deleted. The game takes place inside of a computer system and does a great job of creating the promised atmospheric feeling. Director Phi Dinh lists movies like Tron, Reboot, and the Matrix as influences for the game, and those influences are quite evident from the start. It’s quite clear that Dinh is trying to present a cautionary tale about Artificial Intelligence, but the story doesn’t always hit the mark. The passion and care from the developers is always evident, but can feel a bit lacking at times. The story is not bad, it is just not quite as good as it could have been given the concept and inspirations.

While the story may be a little lacking, the environment and atmosphere in the game is excellent throughout. Tight platforming takes places in some cavernous locations, which is fascinating to see. The only downside there is sometimes it takes a bit too long to fall to my death. The music helps add to the feeling of being a small program located inside of a massive system set out to destroy it. Most Metroidvania games tend to be 2D, so the use of 3D animation was also interesting and done quite well. The benefit of massive amounts of scenery is that the developers were able to make it so things far away looked fuzzy and broken and then fixed themselves as you approached them. This was distracting at first, but it really grew on me as the game went on.

There are plenty of things to like with the idea and concept of the game, but I found the gameplay itself to be lacking. The hacking system is interesting, I’ll give it that, but the platforming felt rote and unintuitive at times. There was a significant amount of backtracking purely for the sake of backtracking, which made it difficult to want to spend the time getting through some of the sections. I also had quite a few times where I got stuck inside of parts of the scenery, which I hope is just because this was a pre-release build and should be fixed when the game is out. The combat is also very hit or miss. I had moments where I really enjoyed some of the fights, and others where I was just irritated to have to deal with the system security while balancing on a tight platform with no room to maneuver.

Most of those negatives are only partial, and none of them make the game unplayable by any means. Unfortunately though, one of the most glaring issues throughout is completely unavoidable and almost made me want to drop the game completely. The game uses flashing code blocks and moving lines of flashing code with different colors to help present new information or even just speech between characters. The flashing is outrageously distracting and gave me a headache several times. I hope this is something the developers will tone down on once the game is out, because otherwise I have a really hard time suggesting anyone check the game out. If flashing lights don’t bother you then you’ll be fine, but just be warned that it is constant all throughout the game and is sadly unavoidable.

Recompile is not a bad game by any means, I just would not say it is a great one. I enjoyed myself at times, but ultimately feel like it did not do remotely enough to stand apart from the rest of the genre. Recompile is an interesting concept, but one that feels more like an incomplete idea. I loved the concepts, but there are some core gameplay things that would need to be fixed in order for me to truly feel like the idea made it’s way onto my computer the way the developers intended.

Recompile is out August 19th on Steam, PlayStation 5, and Xbox Series X (available on Gamepass).

Recompile
  • 6.5/10
    Rating - 6.5/10
6.5/10

TL;DR

Recompile is not a bad game by any means, I just would not say it is a great one. I enjoyed myself at times, but ultimately feel like it did not do remotely enough to stand apart from the rest of the genre. Recompile is an interesting concept, but one that feels more like an incomplete idea. I loved the concepts, but there are some core gameplay things that would need to be fixed in order for me to truly feel like the idea made it’s way onto my computer the way the developers intended.