Dex is an open-world side scrolling Role Playing Game (RPG) set in a sci-fi cyberpunk world. The game was released on May 7th, 2015, for PC and came later to consoles on July 8th, 2016. This review is based on the PS4 version of the game.
Dex is a young woman living in a city under control by corporations. These corporations are all part of a secret organisation known as The Complex. One night Dex becomes the assassination target of The Complex, and must escape, with the aid of a mysterious hacker known as Raycast. Raycast helps her find out who she is, and just why The Complex is after her.
The setting in Dex is your usual cyberpunk scenario, with downtrodden slums, high technology-rich districts and the Chinese quarter, which makes an appearance in practically every cyberpunk game ever. It’s nothing new from what we’ve seen in games before, but that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s bad. If you are a fan of cyberpunk settings and 2D games, then you will probably enjoy this game, otherwise, you may feel a little underwhelmed by this experience.
The game tries to do a lot of things at once. Hacking, skill levels, guns, melee, side quests. In the end, though, it all feels the same. Go to a place, beat up some dudes, grab some stuff, talk to a person, end quest. It always feels the same, even through the story missions. Thankfully the actual gameplay of it works and is actually pretty fun in some areas, which can save it from becoming a stale game which you’d be bored with in a few hours, depending on how big a fan of these types of games you are. You get a few skills you can sink your points into from levelling up, they’re pretty stock standard skills though, melee, guns, hacking, lockpicking, etc. However there are enough of them, and the levelling is paced enough that you can work towards how you want to play, whether it be stealthy, gun wielder or melee focused.
Where would a cyberpunk game be without hacking, huh? Every game has their own take on hacking, whether it be a game of connect the dots, a small puzzle game or even pipe dream. Well, in Dex, the hacking works as a twin-stick shooter, in which you must guide your avatar to the objective, fighting through firewalls, viruses and other protections the device you’re hacking may have. You can also find pickups while exploring the cyber-verse, which will grant you money, experience or focus, which is basically your avatar’s health. There are also other small nodes around the place which you can hack, which will allow you to find small pieces you can read to give you a deeper insight into the world.
The story and dialogue are both well-scripted, despite the fact that it is your classic, running from the big guy and joining the little guy kinda story. It does pull you in and make you wonder just what is so special about this woman, and when you start to get little slivers of information, it just makes you all the more interested in investigating and solving the mystery. Most of the characters don’t really make their mark in the game, though, especially those at the start of it. They just seem like your generic character fillers, the gruff mentor figure, the weird one that doesn’t like you, the mysterious helper. It’s all just too generic.
Dex is out on PC, PS4 and XB1 for AUD $27. It’s hard not to compare this game to others of the same genre, such as Deus Ex or Shadowrun, but even if you don’t, it still feels as if it is missing something and not living up to what it could have been. Dex got a lot of things right it’s true, but even so, that doesn’t make a difference if you are just doing the same stuff over and over again. That is, unfortunately, Dex‘s biggest letdown, it is incredibly repetitive. Dex receives a 6.5/10, it has some solid role-playing and even some satisfying combat and stealth at certain points, but it’s just hard to want to continue it when you know that is all you are going to be doing for the rest of the game.