A lot of times, the screenshots don’t do a game justice. I can’t remember how many reviews I’ve written where after attaching the screenshot I’d say to myself “it looks so much better in motion”. Sadly, the opposite can also be true and that’s the case with “Dex”: it’s a game with a lot of promise in its premise, and the screenshots look fantastic. But constant framedrops, enemies that aren’t even color swapped and stereotypes verging on offensive are just some of the things that make the final product seem unfinished, and ultimately, almost impossible to enjoy.
Now, not everything is bad. The level design is actually quite clever and the RPG system of the game is quite deep. The story is also good, though told through mediocre dialog and average voice acting.
The art of the game itself is breath-taking. If you see a still of the game you won’t believe how it could have turned out so wrong. I know that before I played the game, I saw reviews from other outlets and couldn’t understand the low scores the game was getting. “It’s just another case of a niche game not reaching its audience”, I thought, reminded of the “Neptunia” series and how I seem to be the only writer in media who loves it.
It’s a hard game to review, “Dex”, as it’s actually a very cool concept. I like the idea of Blade Runner tributes on the Vita, and as I mentioned before, the art looks really good.
But then, the problems begin.
The performance is abysmal, with load times being so long I actually had to find something to do while I saw the progress bar not progressing (true story). I found enough time in between the load times to write a complete film review for “The Wailing” (if you’re into Asian horror, read it here). And the performance is shocking. I know Unity is not an engine renowned for running smoothly out of the box on the Vita, but games like 10 Second Ninja X have shown us that 60fps, pixel-perfect rendition is possible on our handhelds. So, to find a game that drops frames and skips and sometimes doesn’t even respond to commands during combat is appalling.
My biggest problem with the game (of many, I admit) is the stereotyping and cliches that become almost racist. In one instance, the player drops into a sewer to be greeted by a black-face interpretation of African American women, in an offensive accent talking about racial and social issues. I have to confess that it took all my strength to continue playing to see if it was just a misguided interpretation. Sadly, this type of thing is littered throughout the game.
Couple this with button-mashing un-inspired combat, enemies that are exactly the same (red shirts must have been on sale as there are dozens of these guys littered throughout the first level… some games at least change the shirt color), the aforementioned dismal performance and what you end up is a ruined game.
I wish the developers at Dreadlocks had taken the time to polish “Dex” further. The idea is really good and the art is fantastic. The RPG system is very serviceable and it could have carried the game further. But at the end of the day, the world is full of promises undelivered, and “Dex” is sadly one of them.
At a glance:
- Title: Dex
- Developer: Dreadlocks Ltd.
- Publisher: Badland Entertainment
- Format: PSN Download
- Multiplayer: No
- Memory Card Space Required:4.9Gb
- PlayStation TV Compatible: TBC