First-person platforming games have always been a bit maligned and understandably so. Compared to side-scrolling platformers, it can be much harder to fully take in your surroundings and you can't always judge where you're going to land.
Developer 5 Bits Games dares to defy these inherent first-person challenges with Deadcore, a futuristic first-person platformer. It's chock full of narrow platforms, spinning lasers, and treacherous corridors all built to put your platforming prowess to the test.
Deadcore only features five levels but these levels are huge (I spent over an hour in each of the two final ones). While the actual level design is quite clever, I sometimes wished they were broken up into smaller sections simply because I felt fatigued after finally completing the massive ones.
Thankfully, Deadcore controls wonderfully and really gives you a sense of freedom. You're equipped with a generous double-jump which itself will keep you in the air for a few seconds. Add on top of that the powerful boosters that launch you through the sky and you'll be spending a whole lot of time gliding through the air which feels exhilarating.
While the primary focus of Deadcore is undoubtedly platforming, there is also a shooting element that comes into play. Early in the first level, you'll pick up the SwitchGun, a simple weapon that allows you to open doors, activate switches, and deactivate the few mechanical pests that you'll encounter in the later levels. You'll also acquire a speed dash and gravitational upgrades that evolve the mechanics in the second half of the campaign. The speed dash is a great tool that lets you get around the maps easier and make much longer jumps but I had less fun with the gravitational mod. By shooting a switch, it inverts gravity in a small section of space that you must cross. The concept itself is fine but it can be confusing and a bit disorienting to constantly swap gravitational fields. The vibrant purple area that denotes that the gravity is swapped also makes things around you a lot harder to see.
Casual shooter fans will be fine with the early aiming requirements in Deadcore but the later levels require some quick twitch aiming and shooting that FPS novices (myself included) may get frustrated with. In fact, there's a lot to get frustrated with in Deadcore. The final two levels are packed with difficult platforming segments and at times, the checkpoints are spaced too far apart. Count on spending a lot of time on these later levels as you'll die frequently and replay the same sections over and over again.
The high level of difficulty makes it hard for me to recommend Deadcore to anyone but first-person platformer fanatics. It's technically competent and brings a few good ideas to the table but its frustrating aspects make me more likely to recommend it to my enemies rather than my friends.
- + Smooth controls and accurate platforming
- + Sailing through the skies is exhilarating
- + Clever level design
- - Later levels are far too long
- - Frustrating difficulty in the second half
- - Gravitational fields obscure the view of your surroundings