DeadCore

DeadCore is a game made by 5 Bits Games, released on 14th October 2014. The idea behind the game is blending elements of speed-running, FPS (first person shooter) and platforming.

The story of the game revolves around an unnamed character who has lost their memories after falling through magnetic storms. The only thing you know is that you need to reach the summit of the mysterious tower ahead of you. Someone or something is pushing you towards the summit. Only then will your questions be answered.

The question is: do you have the skills necessarily to dodge the high-tech security system that protects the tower?2015-04-09_00001To be honest, I think it is a shame how this game seemed to fly under the radar for many players. Quite frankly, I did not even know this game actually existed until it popped up on my Steam queue listing while I was looking at the sales. Bought it on impulse since it looked really awesome in terms of the screenshots and the trailer.

You know what?

No regrets at all buying this game. Best $12SGD I ever spent on that day.

This game is an absolute gem.

Fun Fact: the original name of the game was DeadLock. In fact the game’s official site is still in the game’s previous name. 

The main aim of the game is to climb an impossibly high tower. The higher you climb, the more progressively harder the game becomes. There is no formal guide or tutorial level for the players. The only clues given to you is floating but broken text. The text will give a very generalized and vague idea of how to proceed through the next levels. Other than that, the player is pretty much on their own to figure things out.2015-04-10_00002

There are two game modes in DeadCore. Story mode and Speedrun. Speedrun mostly consists of you trying to beat your time set in older maps, and to climb up ranks in the global leaderboard. Story mode is a little misleading since it is more of a collection of levels loosely strung together by collectibles known as T-logs. These are scattered throughout the various levels, and sometimes are in hard-to-reach spots. There is no narrative or cutscenes in the game. The only cutscenes you will see is in the beginning and the end of the game. These “T-logs” will give you a very vague idea of the back-story, what the tower  actually is, the world you occupy and why you are there.

DeadCore can also be played as a storyless, challenge-orientated game, if you cannot be bothered to try find all the logs that explains the plot of the game. Or it could be described as a 3D platformer with some FPS elements, and insanely-hard. I guess this means I am a masochistic gamer considering that I cannot stop playing this game. I was stuck on one level for over 10 minutes, death count was probably way over 20+ and still kept going. Imagine how joyful it was when I succeeded and managed to reach the next checkpoint.

Instead of giving you the mandatory tutorials or tips on-screen, 5 Bit Games follows the example of Valve. Introducing the concept of the new mechanic and allowing players to have fun with it, before mixing it up with mixing it up and bringing more elements into the game. So suddenly you find yourself having to deal with 6 or 7 mechanics in a level without even realizing it.

Still got a long way to go
Still got lots of climbing to do 

The game’s visuals feels like a mashup  between Tron and Portal. Like Portal, much of the game environment feels sterile, spaced out but with a darker color scheme. Along with highlighted elements to remove the edge off what would have been a boring visual experience. What I believe DeadCore has done right is allowing players to see the distance of the tower. When you look up, you can see how much further you have to go to reach the ever-elusive summit, but looking down you can actually see how far you have come. It brings a player both a feeling of pride and anxiety. Pride knowing how far you have come, and the anxiety of the unknown that lies before you.

DeadCore may have gotten little hype and marketing despite being picked up by a major publisher. Do not let it fool you. The puzzles are challenging, the level design is unique and the sense of mystery shrouding the tower gives players a sense of awe. I can easily see a Steam Workshop happening; allowing players to build their own levels using the various blocks from the game. If there was support for Steam Workshop for this game, I can see the lifespan of the game being extended drastically and a dedicated community forming. If 5 Bit Games is ever wondering on how to build up the experience of DeadCore, this is a potential idea for them to look at. Probably one of the best games to be released last year in my opinion.

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