A Cyberpunk story in a 2D environment. What could go wrong?
DEVELOPER: Dreadlocks LTD
The funny story about this videogame is that it came to us as a mistake. Kind developer Jan Jirkovský send us a press copy to try the game out when he couldn’t delivered one to some dude that made a fake gunsandpixels mail to get free keys. Piracy (or in this case, almost theft) is an issue we will tackle in another analysis. Let’s just express gratitude to Jan and Dreadlocks team for sending us the key to this strange game.
‘Dex’ is a 2D, side scroller RPG with lots of brawling and, in a metroidvania style, lots of wandering. The project was funded via kickstarter and it paid off. Well, sorta.
In the cyberpunk city of Harbor Prime, Dex (ourselves), receives a message from mysterious hacker ‘Raycast’. Someone is coming after you. You need to disable the door by some sort of unexplained and bizarre hacking and run away (…train never going back). Your first stop? Finding a dude named Decker (DECKARD?) in Fixers Hope, after going through the maze-like ‘Sewers’, where we will be introduced to Fallout-ish dialogs (with pretty good voice acting). The responses we give will open paths or take us to different spots of the map. The game, is semi open world. I say semi, because the structure of the game doesn’t release the map as a whole at the beginning, but according to the development of the plot. It is open part by part.
The brawling with thugs and general punks is regular part of the game, but sometimes you can avoid fights and get into sidequests that will provide important items and experience for leveling up. Like any RPG, the leveling will grant you other options and actions (like your lockpick skills).
The plot, in ways, is homage to other videogames (like ‘Deus Ex’, and in a different way, I remembered ‘Oni’) and movies (I feel something of ‘Matrix’ there too) and while I’m completely happy with that part of the game, as I love the creations the game pays tribute I’m seriously not with others like…
For a game where you jump, climb and get down the stairs, and brawl that often, the gameplay fails on making these simple tasks a job well done. The videogame could be named: ‘Dex: A second too late’. Because that’s the big issue. All actions requiring a fast response fail miserably. Brawling is not hard. It’s just a matter of backing up, jump and kick and see how the enemy’s health goes down. However, this minor (and at the same time huge) flaw transforms the game into a series of mini rages as you get punch because Dex took too long to do something or she does something you didn’t require. Other than that, the mechanics of the videogame are fine. The metroidvania style suits the genre very well. RPGs come too often in isometric view or third person view. Since second Zelda (and even Zelda gets scorn sometimes because of RPG tag) there haven’t been that many RPGs in side scroll view. And It’s a good vehicle for labyrinths, a central part of RPGs, because they encourage scavenging.
The visual, with a cyberpunk edge, is ok. It could be better though as it looks a little rough and pixelly when it’s not made as pixel-art. It’s not bad at all, but it could be better, backgrounds are beautiful (if you take your nose out of the fact that the city is afwul). There’s a DLC incoming, maybe they could work on that.
The soundtrack style is the one you expect for this kind of games and it’s actually pretty good, a mix of epic classic for the menus and sinister chords on the background inside the game according to the level. They gave it away as a gift for kickstarter supporters and it would be great they include it in the pack sometime in the future.
The game needs some improvements in a couple of aspects. Their previous early access release was full of bugs that Dreadlocks LTD solve positively. Maybe, if they keep going with the present issues and give them a fix, they will justify the 20 bucks price tag the game now has on Steam.
Don’t get me wrong, this is a fairly long, entertaining game, but gameplay issues and keybindings, and a scarce description of situations (and why not, the objects you receive or find) gives the game an extra difficulty that it’s totally a by-product.
The game feels exactly like developers intended. A 16 BITS Era smashing our computers and hitting the nostalgia factor. It’s undeniably a homerun, but perhaps, not one of those that wins a match.