Deadcore Review


It’s not particularly common to find a first person game that doesn’t involve headshots and a health bar. Thankfully for those yearning something a little different, the dev team at 5-Bits Games have brought us a new title that melds together puzzling, platforming and shooting together into one package. With what feels like a few hints of Portal and Mirror’s Edge, Deadcore is a tightly honed puzzler that aims to test your reflexes, as well as your patience.

Game: Deadcore
Developer: Bandai Namco
Publisher: Bandai Namco
Reviewed on: PC

There’s definitely no confusion with what Deadcore is trying to achieve. You’ll instantly get it as soon as you begin hopping platforms and planning your route to the top, which is essentially all the game asks of you. You’ll do it all without much direction due to the lack of initial story to guide and motivate you, too. Deadcore is a puzzle game; approaching the game with that knowledge makes it far more acceptable and in truth the clever gameplay design is enough motivation all by itself. There is a story in there if you’re willing to go searching for it via collectables, but even so it remains very vague and subjective.

Deadcore’s gameplay plays like most FPS titles you’ve played before. You’ll aim, jump and search for you best way to the top and what impressed me most was the tight controls 5-Bits Games have installed into the game. There’s a plethora of first person titles around that feel too twitchy and erratic to play but Deadcore feels genuinely superb and you’ll always feel in total control of what you’re doing in game. You’ll need to feel in control too, because things get tough quite rapidly.

Initially you’ll be greeted with a few floating platforms to navigate, but before long you’ll be handed a gun that you’ll use to activate switches that might open a door a nullify a trap. Think in the vein of the way Portal uses a gun for puzzling purposes; Deadcore does the same but asks you to do it at a more sturdy pace whilst platforming. There’s no enemies on route to your destination, but asides from a few turrets your biggest enemy will undoubtedly be yourself as you tussle with your own mind and test your own patience.

The gameplay has been balanced well. You’re not sent back to the beginning when you fall into the abyss below Deadcore’s sky towers, but to a close checkpoint. Obviously this means a great deal of trial and error but I found it to be a pleasing kind. For instance, one route asked me to disable a turret and quickly hop between two platforms before it rebooted and started shooting but I after a few attempts I was getting nowhere. Finally I took a look around and found a slightly more hidden route that involved some skillful jumping, but without the pressure of the turrets coming back online. It’s that element of puzzling that really shines in Deadcore, in the way it allows the player to discover new ways to tackle situations that might inevitably grow tiresome without the alternative.

However, whichever way you approach the platforming you’ll definitely need some good reflexes and improvisation skills. Last ditch door shooting and quick leaps into the unknown under pressure are there throughout the game, but as much as situations become harder reaching that next ledge in those situations are all the more rewarding. Of course, speed is of the essence when it comes to bragging rights and I imagine the Youtube community having an absolute blast with this game – I’m not sure a game has ever been so perfect for speedruns.

What’s more impressive is Deadcore’s visuals. Whilst they might not set the world alight from a pure graphical standpoint the level design and draw distances are particularly good. Because of the nature of gameplay, being able to see deep into the distance to plan your path is important and you’ll certainly have no complaints. Even less so when you begin to appreciate the level layouts of floating platforms beautifully sitting above the churning void below you – it’s a pretty sight, for sure.


Once you’re done with the main levels, discovered collectables and new paths to the top of each one you might want to delve into the dedicated speedrun mode. As stated earlier, few games lend themselves so well this kind of gameplay and it’s no surprise they’ve added a mode specifically designed for it. You’ll be asked to get to the top without dieing as quickly as possible. The better you can do, the higher you’ll climb on an online leaderboard; disclaimer – it’s seriously tough.


Deadcore has somehow managed to design a type of game that should be absolutely infuriating to play but remains the complete opposite thanks to some common sense mechanics such as quick respawns (so you can get up and go again without any nonsense) and some near perfect ‘feel’ to how the game handles. Some might be put off by the vague setting, and you will need patience at times where the game requires a more chess-like approach to assess its puzzles. However, despite those points there’s a genuinely rewarding experience awaiting you in Deadcore, and for the price and replay value in mind it’s impossible not to recommend.


Began gaming on a hand-me-down Commodore Vic-20 back in the mid 80's and hasn't managed to shake the addiction yet. Genres of choice include anything that contains bullets and/or bouncy balls. Has been known to dabble in Destiny content.


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