Showcased recently by none other than the Boss of Bosses during UPF, Recompile is a fun little game with a really strong look.
You are essentially a program in a computer mainframe and you jump around fixing things from the inside. The presentation is really great, blending a minimalistic approach with stylized effects and vast levels that dwarf your character. Everything is sort of surreal but also vaguely computer adjacent. Why would the inside of essentially "code" look like giant cathode tubes? I don't know but it looks cool. The primary focus in Recompile is platforming. Each biome is comprised of several zones which you have to traverse and do some light puzzle solving. None of it is all that complicated but almost all of it has that satisfying "light 3 giant tubes that feed into a 4th giant tube" effect which scratches that checklist itch for me real well.
The platforming is generally fun and creative with what you're traversing and the movement abilities you unlock. My main knock against it, and I can't believe this is the second indie game I played that has the exact same problem, is that your character doesn't really cast a shadow. This means that when you're landing on small platforms and ledges, as is often the case in Recompile, it is hard to judge in a 3D plane where you're landing. Towards the latter half of the game you unlock an upgrade that helps with this but by then you will probably only have one area left to go.
Technically Recompile is a metroidvania although I think the game is much too small to really make use of the structure. Although at first glance you are free to tackle each of the 5 biomes in any order you wish, it quickly becomes apparent that there is a very rigid order to follow. Likewise there is nothing in the sense of health upgrades that you can actually go back and collect once you have acquired new abilities. The only items to collect are your skills - weapon, movement, hacking - and chat logs which are responsible for the vast majority of world building and storytelling. Unless you're a speed runner or you just don't care you will want to find and collect all the data logs in each area to keep steadily uncovering the story beyond the computer. I hate audio logs or e-mails in games, my eyes somehow instantly glaze over, and yet I found the story here interesting enough where I was happily reading even the longer logs just so that I could piece another part of the puzzle together.
Recompile has one of my favorite types of formats where you clear area by area and can easily tell how far you've progressed. It's one of these nice "ok one more zone for tonight" type of games with very concise break points. I played mostly on my TV speakers but one thing I noticed is that when I put on my headphones one late evening the soundscape for this game is fairly harsh? It's very digital but also very sharp at times I would say downright unpleasant.
Either way, it's on Game Pass, PC and PS5 so choose your poison.
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