Dex: Enhanced Edition Review
Dex: Enhanced Edition is an interesting conundrum. It’s a game set in a near dystopian future but falls back on elements that feel very familiar to anyone that has played classic 90’s PC games like Flashback or Another World. Imagine if Deus Ex had been developed as a 2D platform/RPG/brawler and you get an idea of what Dex is all about. While Dex is an ambitious game in gameplay and story development, sometimes the sum of all its parts fall short.
The story of Dex will be instantly familiar to anyone that has a passing interest in sci-fi in the last 20 years. Dex lives in Harbour 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 familiar and comfortable territory for sci-fi fans.
“Imagine if Deus Ex had been developed as a 2D platform/RPG/brawler and you get an idea of what Dex is all about.”
What keeps Dex compelling is the blended gameplay experience. Drawing heavily from the branching skill tree in Deus Ex, players can customize Dex’s skillset to favour traits like melee, firearms, agility, hacking, lockpicking, charisma and more. While these choices don’t affect the overall strategy as heavily as Deus Ex, it is nice to see variance in gameplay, with the lockpicking and hacking abilities being heavily favoured as the most important skill traits.
Hacking takes a big role in Dex as not only can cameras, turrets, and even enemies be hacked to your advantage but also an entire subsection of the game is devoted to hacking into terminals and roaming cyberspace in search of data. This plays out more like a top down shooter, with your ship gaining various upgrades as you progress.
Throughout your time in Harbour Prime, Dex will come across a number of different unique characters all with their own specific agendas. Dex can influence their pathways and come to a few different resolutions for these side quests, which is a nice addition to an otherwise short main questline. Completing the additional side quests boosts the overall gameplay up to around 15 hours, and gives much more context and life to Harbour Prime.
The 2D art style plays nicely with the cyberpunk themes and feels like a call out to a number of different classic films and games without being too overly derivative. The developers have also done a good job with the colour palate, showcasing a grounded world that pops with neon colours and lights. The soundtrack is also a strong addition to the world building, finding the right ebbs and flows during gameplay.
Here’s my biggest problem with the game. After 15 hours or so, after the big mysteries of Harbour Prime have been revealed and Dex supposedly has a life, no, world-changing decision to make, the player is given one last hacking mission to complete and then the game just… ends. It ends so abruptly that it’s almost jarring, I even went back to see if I made a wrong choice, and the alternative ending was even more so. Not a deal breaker, but not a satisfying conclusion at all.
Overall Dex: Enhanced Edition isn’t perfect. It’s a love letter to not only classic sci-fi but also classic 90’s RPG/adventure games. Where Dex falls short is the sum of its parts; so many gameplay elements have been incorporated in, but not one of them stand out as excellent. There is however, a lot to like here for sci-fi fans, and there is enough world building that the game warrants a sequel.
*** PS4 code provided by the publisher ***
- Well developed characters
- Strong sci-fi noir feel
- Good soundtrack
- Unoriginal storyline
- Very abrupt ending