Dex: Enhanced Edition is an updated version of the original Dex, from developer Dreadlocks Ltd., released earlier this year. A 2D mash up of side scroller, shooter, and RPG, Dex: Enhanced Edition is an homage to many classic games like Shadowrun (SNES) and Castlevania 2: Simon’s Quest (NES). Players control Dex, a young woman who is hunted by a mysterious corporation called The Complex. Players must complete quests; shooting and punching their way through various opponents, to figure out the mystery of who Dex is and why she is being hunted.
Dex: Enhanced Edition throws you into the action right out of the gate with our hero running for her life in a futuristic city known as Harbor Prime. A hacker named Raycast assists her escape and sets her on a path to meet with a group of underground resistance fighters. She is recruited to bring down The Complex, and along the way Dex will meet lots of interesting characters and pick up many side quests.
Dex: Enhanced Edition is beautifully designed. The backgrounds in the areas Dex traverses are very detailed and a lot of thought was put into creating a living, breathing — albeit 2D — world. The cyberpunk world Dex: Enhanced Edition is full of some cool character designs, but the level backgrounds are really where it shines. NPC’s meander about in the cities and the decay of the world really shows up when out exploring. The graphics are nothing really special, but I must give a nod to the art direction and design.
The gameplay in Dex: Enhanced Edition is the usual 2D side scrolling fare for the most part. The major differences are apparent when you start acquiring different guns. The punching, kicking, blocking, and dodging for melee combat are there, but very clunky and frustrating. The ranged combat with guns add a “line of sight” indicator that allows players to use the joystick to aim with. It’s not a good system and even after hours of play, I found it lacking. It was very hard to place shots in the heat of battle and range combat is really only useful before enemies start attacking you or taking out (when you can get lucky with your aim) other gun toting baddies.
As Dex levels up, she can specialize in various skills such as hacking, lockpicking, endurance, and even bartering. These skills help players specialize to their prefered playstyle. I recommend lockpicking early on, as it will allow you to open doors and get equipment early on. Dex can also equip implants that will increase stats and give various other perks. To really load on up experience points and level up, completing side quests is a must. Dex: Enhanced Edition has LOTS of quests. Some are easy and some are very frustrating to finish. The quests definitely make for a unique game experience in Dex: Enhanced Edition. Be ready to read, and talk to everyone you can.
Dex: Enhanced Edition also includes an “AR” or augmented reality feature. Dex herself can switch to this mode and the game sort of becomes a neon “asteroids”-style shooter. Players control a glowing circle “ship” that shoots various types of blasts at “viruses” that will destroy your hacking tool if your health or “focus” is depleted. If successful though, this can be used to disable turrets, cameras, and even subdue some enemies. It’s frustratingly difficult at first, but the learning curve allows for the player to adjust pretty quickly. I highly recommend upgrading your firepower and focus amount as soon as you can to be prepared for some difficult areas that will be forthcoming.
Dex: Enhanced Edition does have some interesting and creative ideas. I think it suffers from too many things being thrown in the mix, because it doesn’t really get any of them right. Clunky combat, quest items that are impossible to find, a “hacker” shooter minigame that is just silly and overly complicated, and a cheesy story and setting borrowed from so many other sci-fi fandoms. The art design is really the only truly positive thing I can say about Dex: Enhanced Edition. This edition does include all the DLC and extras released since the original Dex. Some players of RPG games may enjoy the lengthy story and morality choices that lead in different story directions. I just wish more focus was put on the RPG elements and combat because Dex: Enhanced Edition is just not very fun.
Dex: Enhanced Edition is available now on Playstation 4, Xbox One, PS Vita and PC. This review is based on a Playstation 4 copy provided for that purpose.
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