Review – Recompile

Recompile looks like a surefire hit at first glance. There are tons of elements about it that make it stand out, at least in a commercial sense. This is a 3D metroidvania set inside a computer, with you playing as an anthropomorphic embodiment of a virus dealing with a malfunctioning mainframe. This entire story takes place within a mere literal second, showcasing the amount of processes that happen all the time inside your rig. The sound design is full of loud bass blasts and weird techno noises. It’s also an actual next-gen exclusive, unlike pretty much every other multiplatform game out there in the moment. Everything sounds good in concept, but sadly, this love letter to Weird Al’s “It’s All About the Pentiums” misses the mark when it comes to its execution.

Recompile Protagonist

The playable character does look like the Intellivision mascot, don’t you think?

The unique setting gave the developers a lot of freedom to create some of the more bizarre and flashier environments in an indie game in recent memory. Nothing makes a lot of literal sense, yet the fact everything is an abstract hodgepodge of wires and neon fits perfectly within this setting. This ended up being a double-edged sword, though. With the entire level design and graphics based around the contrast between dark floors and flashing lights, Recompile can become a visual nightmare at times, with platforms becoming way too dark to the point of you not being able where to jump to next.

Recompile Visuals

How can a game be way too dark and way too bright at the same time?

This is a big problem because, sadly, despite featuring some well-crafted platforming sections, the act of jumping onto said platforms isn’t very well-developed. Recompile doesn’t feature responsive controls, its jumping mechanics are subpar at best (oddly enough since your avatar can actually jump very high), and its combat sections… hoo boy. I appreciate that the virtual gun you’re given has infinite ammo and little recoil, and I even like how it looks a bit like the Service Pistol from Control. However, your aiming is slow and you cannot move the aiming camera around as freely as you can move the camera while platforming. Enemies tend to position themselves in a way you can’t actually aim at them, which only adds insult to injury. Not to mention the irritating boss battles…

Nothing in here ended up being a deal-breaker per se. Nothing felt broken. If Recompile had had one or two of these issues, I would call them mere inconveniences you could get used to. The problem is that the game features tons of these aforementioned inconveniences, which only tend to make each and every one of them more annoying when you have to juggle between two or three of them at any given moment, not unlike my experience with Death Stranding. Sadly, I don’t know if some of these issues can be easily fixed with a patch, since a handful of them stem from the game’s overall visual presentation and design. Recompile would need to go back to the drawing board in order to be fixed.


Recompile’s combat is just… yikes.

Recompile is a great idea in concept. It surely is unique when it comes to its setting, visuals, and its “blink and you’ll miss it” story (in more ways than one when it comes to the latter), but as a game itself, it suffers from a myriad of issues that ended up hampering my enjoyment with it. None of the issues were game-breaking, but when piled up altogether, resulted in a barrage of inconveniences that just made me not to want to play the game for long periods of time.


Graphics: 6.5

The game’s stupidly unique art style acts as an Achilles’ heel: it’s colorful and bright, but that also heavily contrasts with the overall level design, making it pretty hard for the player to actually see any platforms in front of the playable character.

Gameplay: 6.0

The good level design and metroidvania-esque progression system are hampered by poor platforming and combat.

Sound: 7.0

The soundtrack isn’t anything worth writing home about, but I did enjoy its loud, technology-esque sound effects a lot.

Fun Factor: 6.0

Recompile is unique in concept and its story isn’t half-bad either. It is sadly hampered by a myriad of technical issues which, despite not being deal-breakers, pile up and become a major hassle for the player.

Final Verdict: 6.0

Recompile is available now on PS5, Xbox Series S/X, and PC.

Reviewed on PS5.

A copy of Recompile was provided by the publisher.