DEX - Switch Review

DEX by developer Dreadlocks and publisher QubicGamesNintendo Switch review written by Pierre-Yves with a copy provided by the publisher.

Estimated reading time: 6 minutes

Coming back to the limelight after five years, Dreadlock Limited's Dex is an RPG platformer that I only wished I had had the chance to experience when it originally released for the PC. On the run for her life, Dex finds herself pulled into events that have her way over her head and she'll need to develop her skills if she plans on surviving. Move aside Adam Jensen as I think I found my new favorite cybernetically enhanced badass in a trenchcoat.

Literally starting off with running away from those trying to kill you, you get a series of brief tutorials into both the system and how you can interact with the world. Set in a cyberpunk future, Dex will find herself running around in a two dimensional cityscape as she searches for clues and the gear she’ll need to stick it to those that would enslave everyone through information if their plan is successful. How fast you go about it or how many detours you take, that, is up to you.

Starting off rather “vanilla”, Dex can run, jump and punch people. As you move around the city talking to people and fighting with others that just want a piece of you for having moved through their turf, Dex will be able to level up and increase her repertoire. Like a lot of more “open-world” RPGs though, there’s going to be the tough choice of if you should put points into being tougher, stronger, more agile (how well you handle guns) or if you should worry about how well you can sweet talk a person or simply hack your way in through the back door. If you level up enough, everything is at your fingertips but starting off? It’s a bit of a hard choice *coughs* lock picking *coughs* as there’s plenty of doors that you’ll probably be wanting to get into.

What impressed me a lot with Dex, the title, is that the city feels alive. You have your rich zones, your comercial zones, your slums and your “entertainment” district and nothing is stopping you from going in and partaking if you want to. It doesn’t even need to be for a quest, you can simply do whatever you want to do. There is a main storyline to drive things forward but the world allows you to do side quests that may or may not help you out and in the worst case? You’ll be leveling up which helps you in the long run anyways.

Only helping out the feeling of the world being alive is that there is a fair amount of voiced dialog adding in emotions to some already charged situations. Wandering into a gang’s turf, walking into a restaurant where the owner is worried about her brother, walking into a “den of sin” and chatting up the owner while picking someone for the evening’s entertainment over to hacking giant super computers with self-destructs about to go off. Each of these have someone voicing how they feel and while Dex herself may only have a voice in certain circumstances, her dialog choices range from funny to downright pure sarcastic. Obviously I had to choose those options!

While the general running around, chatting people up and lockpicking felt normal enough, I did have some issues when it came to combat. Dex never actually gets a weapon past being able to increase her martial arts abilities. She does get guns, but unless you put points into them you’ll never be using more than a basic pistol. Being a two dimensional world, you have left, or you have right. Dex can punch, eventually low kick to trip or high kick for more damage, but often you’re 1v3, 1v6 and making it worse, they have guns that will shred you to pieces. I felt like there was no real way around this especially when “shit hit a fan” where stealth was never an option and you’ve got to find some way to tackle all of the enemies coming for you.

It’s not to say that there aren’t “ways” around it as eventually you can use your hacking abilities on “humans”, but it doesn’t last long and even if you use a takeout move on one, you have to re-hack everyone in sight over and over until everyone is down and the only ones left are those that you actually have to brawl against as they are too tough to be taken out with a chokehold. A bit like Deus Ex: Human Revolution, there’s a false sense that you never have to actually fight and once you’re forced into it, well, it’s do or die.

To help about a bit with this, or with getting away, Dex can have other upgrades loaded into her such as the ability to better deflect bullets, be stronger and hit harder, jump twice as high helping you get around more quickly or simply bypass enemies and finally breathe toxic air which lets you get to exploring much further and faster without having to go the long way around. But these are choices that no two players will really make in the same manner and that’s a big thing that Dex has going for it. You can play it your way. You can go in all guns blazing, you can go in and no one will ever know you were there or you can hack the sentrys to take out whoever is standing guard. It’s brilliant in that way, but like I said above, be prepared for a fight because often you’ll have to even if you didn’t want to.

Dex, the title, finds itself in a bit of a sweet spot that so many titles end up blaring right past. Even if you go about doing everything you can, it’s not overly long and it just about never overstays its welcome until about the very last portion in which you kind of wish you could just get on with it all. With no spoilers as this is an adventure that deserves to be explored on its own, you have control over what and how you do it all the way up until that point and once at that point and dancing to someone else’s strings? That’s where it feels drawn out because you know it’s the end but the end keeps on giving.

Overall, Dex is an awesome 2D Platforming RPG. Between the setting, the voice acting, and the ability to mostly go about the adventure as you see fit, this transition over to the Nintendo Switch from the PC is a great one that both RPG fans and fans of Deus EX should look into if they haven’t already.

Score: 7.75 / 10



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