Dex: Enhanced Edition Review For PS Vita

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Posted December 29, 2016 by Josh Brant in Video Games

Developer: Dreadlocks Ltd

Publisher: Badland Indie

Release Date: Dec 20, 2016

Platforms: PS Vita (reviewed), PS4, Xbox One, PC

Originally released on Steam as a crowdfunded project, then migrated to the PS4, Dex can now be played on the small screen of the PS Vita. Dex: Enhanced Edition exists in a genre-typical, yet nevertheless exciting world. Its populace is unabashedly profane, violent, and dirty, and they command the game’s strong script. However, underneath the intriguing façade of cyberpunk, Dex: Enhanced Edition still stumbles in the technical department with slowdowns, long load times, and a few crashes.

Cyberpunked

Cyberpunk is one of the cornerstones of the science fiction genre. Through television, books, and film it has been the foundation of the dark, dystopian, industrial setting which is so influential in the genre. It has a created the intoxicating world of Blade Runner, and, in the gaming world, the magnificent Deus Ex. While Deus Ex did not have much competition in the gaming medium of this sci-fi genre, Dex: Enhanced Edition is looking to break through with a world filled with AI, shadowy corporations, and people trapped in an unsympathetic, uncaring system.

The story of Dex will be instantly familiar to anyone who has an interest in sci-fi in the last 20 years. Dex (also known as Blue) lives in Harbor Prime, a dark Blade Runner-esque city. On one fateful day, she is targeted by a shady group call “The Complex” and only manages to barely escape her apartment with the help of the mysterious hacker Raycast. Following her escape, Dex, along with a group of intrepid hackers, dig further into the mystery behind The Complex and what makes Dex so valuable. Not the most original content, but comfortable and familiar territory for sci-fi fans.

At first, it is a little difficult to figure out exactly what your goal actually is. The good thing is this is completely fine: as soon as you get out of the overbearing tutorial, you’re allowed to explore as much of the city as your heart desires. You will no doubt find plenty to do and explore across Harbor Prime; in fact, it is possible to do every possible side mission before doing even the third main mission. It’s just very easy to get wrapped up in Dex’s world and you simply forget there is a main story.

Taking Nanomachines To The Next Level

The gameplay is rudimentary and not as strong as the art style, but it’s still solid and fun. Taking some of the same cues from Deus Ex, you have a selection of skills — charisma, hacking, melee, and gunplay — with nearly free roam across the city to explore and exploit your skills. Hacking, charisma, and lockpicking can all help you get a passive boost to combat, such as better equipment or less enemies, or help you bypass the conflict entirely. Boosting melee, however, unlocks combos while you can also choose to take or give more damage as well.

The RPG elements of the gameplay are well implemented and balanced. Although the grind to establish enough experience is not the most exciting, when you do have enough experience to level up the rewards are entertaining and are worked into the gameplay well.

Combat, on the other hand, feels clunky but is made much easier when the player takes advantage of implants, usable items, and the quick save system. As for hacking, the player takes control of a ship-like avatar of our main character. This avatar is used to explore cyberspace while fighting off enemy viruses and dodging obstacles like firewalls and black holes. Hacking can be made much easier by simply upgrading it with your experience. (Some upgrades include shooting multiple projectiles and having a larger health pool for the hacking sections.) Like mentioned before, upgrading one portion of Dex leaves other portions rather lacking; it seemed impossible to find enough experience throughout the whole game to max out all the stats. This ultimately ends up working in Dex’s favor: Since she isn’t given a ton of extra experience, we as players have to decide what kind of hero Dex will become in the end.

Technical Blemishes

Although Dex: Enhanced Edition possesses a politically intriguing main quest and a somewhat solid gameplay base, it is often hampered by frustratingly broken gameplay mechanics and technical glitches. The frame rate often stutters to a halt at pivotal times allowing enemies to attack or ruining well-judged jumps between platforms. Dex will also often freeze when unholstering a weapon, with movement non-responsive and the game will have to be loaded again. Also, there were three moments where the game just quit out leading to having to replay certain segments again. Luckily, the auto-save system is used well enough to never lose much progress.

Coming back to the positives, the 2D art style plays nicely with the cyberpunk themes and feels like a call out to a number of classic films and games without being too overly derivative. The developers have also done a good job with the color palate, showcasing a grounded world which pops with neon colors and lights. The soundtrack is also a strong addition to the world building, finding the right ebbs and flows during gameplay.

Dex: Enhanced Edition is in no way perfect, and it really does nothing flawlessly. Instructions are never as clear as they should be and the hacking minigame is a poor attempt at a twin stick shooter. As for actual gameplay, it wasn’t terrible but failed to impress with either the fighting or hacking. Despite all this, Dex: Enhanced Edition is a visually pleasing cyberpunk adventure which should appeal to anyone of that particular genre, technical hiccups and all.


About the Author

Josh Brant

I love God, my family, friends, sports, and the greatest hobby of all: video games! You can reach me on twitter @minusthebrant.