Platform: Nintendo Switch
Version Reviewed: eShop Download
Category: Role-Playing, Action, Adventure
No. of Players: 1 player
Release Date: July 24, 2020 (Worldwide)
Price: $19.99 USD
Dex was first released back in 2015 on the PC, PS Vita, Xbox One, and PS4 in 206 and was finally ported to the Switch in July 2020. Developed by Dreadlocks, Dex was first funded by a Kickstarter campaign which reached its goal within a week. The game first released on Steam in 2015 and eventually made its way to consoles. A 2020 port brought this game back to life, especially with the surge of popularity of the “cyberpunk” genre with games like Deus Ex and Cyberpunk 2077.
In 2015, Dex was awarded “The best Czech and Slovak” game, Czech Game of the year for 2014, and was featured at GDC Next in 2014 as part of a MIX Showcase and an Indie MEGABOOTH Showcase.
As far as the story goes, Dex is your typical post-apocalyptic cyber-punk dystopian society story. You are Dex and you discover that you possess some powers that are beyond your comprehension. Like The Matrix, you can hack into cyberspace and use your powers to mess with enemies, technology, etc. and no one else can do that except Dex.
The Complex is the all-encompassing evil entity that controls the world and you and a team of underground hackers have to overthrow them throughout your story. It’s a classic cyberpunk tale and gets more interesting and less “cliché’” as you progress. The story honestly had me hooked.
The characters you meet throughout the game have great personalities, even the NPC’s. No one is too bland or too confusing, thanks to the well-done voice acting. This game would have been just as fun without voice acting but it really adds to the overall atmosphere to hear their voices especially being a 2D side scroller.
Dex plays like a combination of Metroid, Streets of Rage, and Megaman with RPG elements. In traditional 2D side-scrolling fashion, you have plenty of platforming to do as well as fighting. It does take a while to get an actual gun, however. The primary combat mechanics are punching and blocking at the beginning. Be wary, you take some decent damage but your blocks do work quite well so just time yourself when you punch a bad guy.
In Dex, you have a wide array of augmentations to collect, and skill trees to fill up. Beating up bad guys and completing missions gain experience that also net you Skill points to spend on each thing such as Endurance, Melee, Ranged, Hacking, Lockpicking, Charisma, AR, and Barter. Each skill point gains access to better things throughout, in classic RPG form.
The mechanics of the actual controls can feel a little clunky at times. When you climb a ladder, you climb painfully slow for some reason. The punching timing can be quite difficult at times too, although I probably am just not good at timing myself so it could be operator error. I feel like the beginning of this game could have been more interesting or engaging if you had a weapon sooner, however, for storytelling’s sake, I understand why it takes a while. Overall, the gameplay in Dex is pretty straightforward. Some of the controls took a while to get used to, but it still held up to some decent standards. The difficulty did seem a little high but that can be an objective opinion.
CONTENT & FEATURES
As far as content and features, Dex is pretty barebones. The storytelling in this game plays out so that you can experience a multitude of endings or outcomes, based on your dialogue within the game. Other than that, there are plenty of things to find and unlock throughout your quest. With over 40 characters to interact with, there is plenty of storytelling to experience throughout this cyberpunk adventure.
With the RPG style gameplay, you can customize your skill points throughout the game. As part of a free DLC Pack, there are some new costumes available for Dex that you can download a swell.
As with most cyberpunk style video games, the best part is usually the audio and awesome soundtrack, and Dex is no exception. The voice acting is very well done and balanced. The characters have plenty of life and you want to listen to them when you interact in lieu of just reading the dialogue.
The game’s music is quite hypnotic and trance-like. The composer really captured the essence of cyberpunk worlds and is just a joy to listen to. Most background music in video games is meant to help you stay focused and mentally aware and the music for Dex is very well composed. I’d even purchase the soundtrack if available!
VISUALS & PERFORMANCE:
Being the old school pixel art fan that I am, I am pleased with Dex’s aesthetic. The graphics are beautiful and the performance on the Switch has been very smooth so far. The character sprites and backdrops are a great combination of pixels and hand-drawn art. Add in the flair of cyber technology style art and we have a great overall visual package for this title. At times, the shadowing can be a little dark, but that adds to the environment in which you are exploring, once you’re out in the open, the colors flash bright and are well balanced.
I haven’t experienced any hiccups or framerate drops of the sort as this game has been around since 2015, the version that came to the Switch I would imagine is well kept and updated. The NPC’s move smoothly, your character moves across the screen with no blips or issues. I enjoyed my experience with this game and I thought it performed quite well!
One major takeaway for Dex is patience. The story moves in a slow burn style. You need to set aside some to commit to this kind of game. It is an RPG and even though it’s a side-scrolling action game, there is dense content and dialogue. You need to be patient when you play this title.
This game also tackles some mature themes, so don’t let the old school aesthetic fool you. This is not a game for everyone. I won’t spoil any content, but there is some mature material in this game. This game also requires some skill and planning as far as skill trees, unlocks, etc., so be prepared to think critically about where you will use your skill points.
One drawback is the difficulty at times, but that really depends on the type of player you are. You can sneak or you can run in and try to beat everyone up. It’s totally up to you and that is one major positive about Dex. You make your own story.
Dex is a cool, dark, intriguing game that fits perfectly in the Switch’s library, especially since cyberpunk games are really popular right now. While it may be a slow burn and a tad difficult, I believe it is worth at least checking out.
THE VERDICT: 7/10
*A review code was provided by the publisher for the purposes of this review
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