Recompile | PS5 Review
Updated: Nov 19
Recompile, developed by Phigames and published by Dear Villagers is a metroidvania, platform-style game with a slight twist. It was originally released last year but has now been re-released on the current generation of consoles making it available on Windows PC, XBox Series X/S and PlayStation 5. For this review I was playing the PlayStation 5 version.
In Recompile you take on the role of a computer program who is dropped into a corrupted computer and you must navigate your way through the various areas to repair the computer. There are no other characters in the game as such, but you'll find yourself accompanied by an AI called Hypervisor and throughout your time exploring the Tron-like world you'll find a series of chat logs between the AI and different scientists to help you piece together the story of what caused the problems you see. The story isn't explicitly given to you apart from through these files so rather than them just being randomly placed extras that do not matter, reading through these will be very important in understanding what's going on.
The gameplay is very typical of a metroidvania where you'll have to explore to gain new abilities which will help you get to new areas and there's the odd puzzle to solve throughout to help you advance. The areas are quite open rather than linear so you may find yourself winding up somewhere you're not supposed to yet because you haven't got the abilities to do it yet. My main complaint about Recompile is that at times (quite often) I frankly didn't know what was going on or why I was doing whatever I was doing and felt a little bit lost - I feel like Recompile could benefit from a little more narrative to help guide the game in the right direction. The slightly dark and unclear level design made falling off platforms to my inevitable death a common occurrence. Due to the strange level design I often found myself stuck wandering around and repeatedly falling at the same areas because I simply didn't know where I was supposed to go. However I did manage to adjust to understand what the game was asking of me eventually.
Apart from that, I found the puzzles to be figured out more by accident or sheer dumb luck than actual logic and it was all effectively trial and error which was slightly irritating and added to the feeling of not understanding what the game was asking of me. There are various abilities to unlock including a gun. The combat wasn't terrible but wasn't great either but it works and eventually as you gain other abilities the combat does become easier despite feeling slightly clunky.
Overall, Recompile is a decent experience but not great. I feel like metroidvanias have to have their unique way of driving the story and gameplay forward. However for the most of Recompile, it felt like a pure fluke when I made progress, as if I had just accidentally wandered into the story or progression rather than cognitively knowing where I was going and why. Despite this I did enjoy my time playing Recompile - it has a fairly decent play time with a few different endings but they're mostly influenced by what you've found collectables-wise rather than choices made.
Lj's Rating: 3 computer viruses out of 5.
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Many thanks to Dear Villagers for the Review Key.