Dex is a side scrolling, open world game with RPG elements set in a futuristic Cyberpunk world from developer Dreadlocks. The first thing I noticed and loved was the Cyberpunk setting and tone of the game, which reminded me of Deus Ex. You play as a woman known as Dex, who lives in Harbor Prime, where a corporation known as The Complex control the world around you. From the very start of the game Dex is in trouble as assassins have been ordered to kill her and she finds help from a hacker known as Raycast, which reminded me of the beginning of the Matrix film. Dex finds herself in the midst of an uprising against The Complex and is led to a group of hackers fighting back.
Harbor Prime is a huge interlocking series of environments with tonnes to explore and different routes to journey through. The world has a huge amount of variation when it comes to social and economic sectors, with luxurious areas and grimy slums full of thugs. The main aspects of the game see you carrying out various tasks, talking to different types of people and getting into brawls. The world is massive and far bigger than I was expecting and luckily the game does have a handy fast travel system that allows you to quickly jump to different zones.
Most areas you travel to have lots of people to talk to, who give you tasks to complete that are normally some sort of fetch quest. This is where the game starts to show its depth though, with different dialogue options and branching conversational paths. Outcomes for missions can also vary and the routes players take can vary. Many of the areas you visit will also have enemies to contend with and they can possess different types of attack methods, whether its melee or ranged. You can block and roll to avoid attacks but ranged attacks can be harder to deal with. Early in the game you can only use your fists against enemies but later on in the game you do get access to guns which make things a lot easier.
Hacking is another big part of the game and you can hack into computer terminals, machinery and even enemies. These moments where you’re hacking are almost like small mini-games, which present new challenges and obstacles to overcome. The combat can feel a little clumsy at times but you do also have the option to take a stealthier approach, like in Deus Ex. You have the option to jump into cover, like crates and even perform stealthy attacks on unsuspecting enemies. I always try to approach games with stealth if that’s an option, which normally works well for a short while before I make some sort of ridiculous mistake and my only resort is to use brute force. The weapons work well and the hand to hand combat has far more depth to it than I first thought. Each enemy has their own attack patterns and melee weapons, meaning you must quickly learn when to strike and when to block or evade.
I found that I would often get myself into trouble and have to fight my way out of some pretty bad situations, but when you’re not battering everyone in sight you’re also tasked with upgrading your stats in the games progression systems. As you play through the game and complete missions you will gain more XP, which can be used to improve your character’s performance in a variety of areas, including things like hacking, melee attacks and long ranged attacks. Once you get quite far into the game you will have upgraded your character a lot and you can feel overpowered at times. One of the strongest and most interesting parts of Dex is the world itself, with an awesome cyberpunk setting. What lets it down slightly is the story, which starts out great but the multiple side quests and lack of direction makes the narrative feel a bit weak. I would have liked to of seen more major story quests driving you through the game.
The presentation of Dex is fantastic and I loved the 2D side scrolling style of the game. Also the setting is reminiscent of other well-known sci-fi franchise likes Blade Runner or Deus Ex, with a bleak cyberpunk setting set somewhere in the future. The world is dark, gloomy and oppressive, with a murky colour palette which works well with the occasional pop of vibrant colour. I also really liked the difference between the different areas you visit, whether its rich or poor, and the game cleverly manages to interlink tonnes of separate areas into one cohesive map. The sound design is also strong and I felt that the soundtrack suited the tone of the game perfectly, with somber and down-tempo moments and fast-paced beats to elevate the feeling of tension. The sound effects also work well, with powerful sounding guns but the hand to hand combat could have packed a bit more punch.
Overall Dex is a clever game that has an awesome setting and is well designed with its 2D side scrolling action. Combat is fun for the most part and the game does have a lot to offer within its upgrade systems, even if it does leave you feeling overpowered at times. The story could have done with a bit more depth and structure, but the side quests are rewarding and I would recommend exploring as much as possible and talk to plenty of people, if they aren’t trying to kill you. My favourite parts of the game were the characters you meet, the design of the world and the option to play the game how your like to, whether it’s stealthily or all guns blazing. I would recommend this game if you like Deus Ex or cyberpunk themed films or games.
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