ReCore is one of Microsoft’s biggest exclusives for the rest of year. It comes out on September 13 for Xbox One and PC. Exclusives can help a console stand out for the competition, which is especially important for the Xbox One as it looks to battle the better-selling PlayStation 4 this holiday season.
ReCore is an action-platformer about a girl and her robot friends. Although it has plenty of shooting, it has a lighter tone than you’d usually see in similar games. It helps that your targets are robots instead of blood-and-guts-filled humans or robots.
GamesBeat already interviewed ReCore’s producer, Mega Man creator Keiji Inafune, and the director, Metroid Prime mastermind Mark Pacini. Now we chat with Joseph Staten of Microsoft Studios Global Publishing, who is the senior creative director and writer for ReCore. We discussed its light tone and approach to story.
GamesBeat: What tone are you going for when you’re writing ReCore?
Staten: The tone is a very cheerful one. This is a game which, you can see, has a lot of color fun. It’s not a dark game. It’s a very colorful, bright, cheerful tone. Thematically the game is all about companionship and exploring this cool mystery.
GamesBeat: So many triple-A console games have darker tones these days. ReCore stands out. It’s not so dreary.
Staten: ReCore is an action platformer. For me those games are all about fun and speed and agility. We wanted to make sure that all the characters represented all those ideas, even in the way they look.
GamesBeat: When I hear action platformer, even without Inafune involved, the first thing I think of is Mega Man. Was that an influence?
Staten: We certainly were influenced. Early on in the project we talked a lot about classic games, what games like that could mean now, and where we’d like to push the genre a bit. But if you play the game, you’ll pretty quickly be struck by how different it feels from Mega Man. The roots are there. We took forward great characters, fun color, speed, movement, all those things. But it’s definitely its own game.
GamesBeat: A lot of action platformers tend to be lighter on story elements. Is that the route you’re taking, or is the plot more involved?
Staten: One of the things I’m most excited about this week is letting people learn more about the characters and the story. It absolutely has story that’s supported by great cutscenes and a lot of fun mysteries. Characters that have personality. You can tell me when you play the game, but Jewel is definitely a fully fleshed out character that has real problems and real adventures with her friends in this world.
The story, for us, was one of the most important things to go after. And it was one of the things that grew organically as the project became bigger and had more scope. People saw it and decided to invest more in it. The story was an element where we decided to do more. [Main hero] Jewel is a cool character and she has a unique story to tell. Let’s invest in it.
GamesBeat: Did Comcept already have this idea and bring it to Microsoft, or did this come out of a collaboration with Inafune from its beginning?
Staten: The concept actually came from Comcept and Armature together. They got together without us — they’d wanted to work together — but they brought us this pitch and we thought it was great. Once we got involved it was about supporting their ideas, adding some fuel to the fire where we could, pushing on story and characters and other things to get it to another level. But the core ideas all came from those guys in their partnership.
GamesBeat: The game is colorful, but there’s also something ominous about its desert setting.
Staten: That’s the goal. If you look at it from the outside in, it’s colorful and candy-colored and fun, but once you start playing it — the stakes are appropriate for the game, but they’re pretty high. There’s an interesting conflict in the world.
GamesBeat: It’s a lot of desert, but it doesn’t feel bland. It’s not all brown.
Staten: It’s not all sand and rocks. There’s some pretty neat stuff in the game.