First person puzzlers aren’t very common, in fact, I can’t think of any other than the fantastic Portal and Portal 2 so 5-Bits Games has entered the fray with DeadCore.
DeadCore is a no frills, in-your-face first person puzzle game requiring a steady hand and quick reflexes to succeed. Forget what you think of when you read the games title, it’s not another game about zombies or anything undead at all which some gamers would be pleased to know. Quite the contrary, DeadCore is a futuristic tower climbing game of which the sole objective is the reach the top.
With no cut scenes or narrative, DeadCore is essentially without a plot. It doesn’t hurl at you any reason at all to begin your journey other than the scarce collectables scattered around the game which outline some story but as these collectables are far and few between, it’s ultimately forgettable. DeadCore is a straight forward puzzler, I mean; do you play Candy Crush Saga for its story and narrative?
DeadCore plays like any other first person shooter game on the PC. You use the combination of mouse and keyboard to navigate up the tower. W, A, S and D keys move you whilst the mouse is used to look around and shoot with the space bar to jump. It’s a traditional key layout that has never failed any FPS on the PC and it is as responsive as ever in DeadCore. You begin your journey at the bottom of quite an intimidating looking tower. No it’s not a skyscraper building or a monument, it’s a floating tall labyrinth of moving platforms, switches, doors and traps of which you are required to traverse in order to reach your objective. Puzzles start off simple but once you unlock DeadCore’s only gun, things start getting tough. You gun isn’t used as you might think, there aren’t any enemies at all, instead it is used as a tool to shoot switches, knock out turrets and other hazards which don’t harm you, they just try to push you off the tower. Falling to your death doesn’t mean you have failed, it doesn’t mean you must start at the beginning, instead you just respawn at the last checkpoint which won’t be far from where you fell thanks to the generous spacing between each one. This encourages you to play on and keep trying that section you have been stuck on for ages now. DeadCore will test your reflexes. Portal players will be right at home here as a lot of sections on the tower require quick last minute flicks of the mouse and shooting switches at the correct time, it can be gruelling but ultimately do-able. Jet streams act as launchers which is another factor on the tower to consider. These things can be activated and deactivated using your gun but they can launch the player forcefully in their specific direction and a few linked together can make for an exhilarating ride. DeadCore plays fantastic. The tight knit controls and excellent level design make for a memorable game and never fails to encourage pressing on. Collecting story snippets and music tracks is nothing but a small incentive to explore the different paths on offer but missing them just adds to the replayability.
As good as the game-play is, the visuals are just as good. Looking up at the menacing tower before you is quite the sight. The draw distance is impressive which is just as great when you look down at the path you have just tackles mere moments ago, it carries a feeling of accomplishment and never gets old especially the higher you get. In the background, a swirling void of beautiful colours can be seen in a spectrum which is a breath-taking sight but you never get any close ups if you fall. The tower itself looks like something out of the movie Tron with neon flowing through platforms and luminescent colours highlighting checkpoints, switches and hazards, it’s fitting.
DeadCore is a brilliant puzzle platformer with tight controls and superb level design. Its striking futuristic visuals and impressive draw distance are pleasing to the eyes and the nicely spaced checkpoints encourage moving forward. If the campaign isn’t enough, a Speed Run mode is available to put your speed and reflexes to the ultimate test.
Story - 4/5
Graphics - 4/5
Game-play - 5/5
Overall - 4/5
Version reviewed - PC