Dex is a brand new side scrolling RPG which is due to release later in the year. I’d noticed it a couple of months ago floating around on Greenlight and Kickstarter and thought to myself “You know, I wouldn’t mind playing that when it comes out”. What got me interested was the art style, it just had this awesome retro vibe to it that shouted “play me, I’m cool!”.
With Dex the first thing you’ll notice is that it’s quite dingy and yet neon, and this is because it’s a Cyberpunk RPG. You play as Dex, a cyborg woman roaming the city of Harbour Prime, and from what I played it seemed to have a lot of poverty and didn’t look like the greatest place to live.
After browsing around this small indie section of EGX Rezzed I came across this game, Dex. I stood watching someone play it for about 5 minutes and it really got me interested. From what I could see this game looked really unique and I just had to play it., and soon enough I did. I hopped on and started playing and the first thing I noticed was that the game was pretty damn good for being hand drawn. Even the animations, although slightly strange, were still pretty damn good and as an artist and studying game developer I have a lot of respect for this feature.
I started outside in front of some dusky buildings, and as there was no in-game prompt telling me where to go, the first thing I did was explore; this meant running to each side of the screen to see which ways I could go. So I ended up running all around the map not having much idea on what I was meant to be doing, until I ran into a nice homeless fella who tells me the world is going to hell and asks me whether I know about this. I reply with “Umm… no?” and then tells me that he working something called “Magnus Opus – a work that will shift our understanding of technology forever”. He then started rambling on about how he’s depressed and how he’s lost his job. Long story short he wouldn’t tell what it was until I got him “Anti-Depressants”. I proceeded with my first “Quest” and went to search for this insane homeless man’s medical supplies, and Iactually came across them at a pharmacy believe it or not. Yes, I literally went to the drugs store and bought them for him. I return and give him what he needs in order to spill the beans.
Now there’s something I need to mention at this point; while speaking to this guy I had numerous sentences to pick from similar to those seen in Mass Effect. I was never really too sure on what would happen if I left him there to rot instead of getting the anti-depressants, I don’t know whether or not it would have effected the gameplay. That will be a question I’ll have to ask in the interview. But anyway, back to the game. So now this guys tells me the information that I wanted and also explains that when he gets off the streets he’ll remember me, so I’m going assume he crops up later in the story, but for now I’m still stupidly lost on what to do or where I should go. I ended up walking around for what seemed like hours not getting anywhere, I went from end to end and spoke to everyone I could, but they only really offered me something to buy. But the only money I had I spent on getting some insane homeless guy his anti-depressants. I was lost.
A cool feature I came across was a stall which allowed for upgrades; augmentation that could be installed into the body. There wasn’t many upgrades, but enough to have fun with (Please bear in mind this game is in Pre-Alpha) although I didn’t have enough in-game cash to get them just quite yet. But still, I think it’s a really cool idea. And as for the gun shop, it looked really cool and I hope you’ll be able to eventually buy every one of them you see on the wall. It was at this point I had to stop playing, and strangely I found myself feeling kind of disheartened, after seeing what at first looked like such a brilliant game. But it wasn’t over for me there, as the kind people at Dreadlocks Ltd gave me a press release copy to play at home. But things only went from bad to worse; when returning home I installed it to my laptop and the same thing happened where I was just roaming around for ages not having any idea who I was meant to talk to or even go.
The game has some superb ideas and I really like what they’ve done with the art, soundtrack and promotion of the game, but when it came to playing it there wasn’t a lot of help. Now I don’t know if was me just being stupid or it was generally hard to find out what I was meant to do, but I found this to be the game’s huge flaw. All this good work that’s been put into such a unique and wonderful concept, and I can’t help but feel it’s just been executed in such a bizarre and weird way where there is no help given to the user. Also they make a point of saying it’s a story-driven RPG, but it really isn’t if you can’t progress and the only “Quest” I did manage to do was probably the most unusual Quest I’ve ever been given in any RPG I’ve ever played before. I’m not even sure if it was part of the story or if it was simply a side quest. No idea.
But this all goes back to one thing; the game is in Pre-Alpha and a lot can happen in between this, especially from good feedback. So from now until release I’d love to see some sort of objective marker, even if it was sentence telling me what part of the city I should go to as opposed to having to explore that area, just anything would help. Overall I’d like to give the developers an interview at some point to just ask them a few questions that are on my mind as well as review it again upon release.