There will be a lot of cyberpunk this year and first out is a remaster of a six-year-old title, this time to Switch. Does Dex still hold?
Now that Witcher-studion CD Project REDs Cyberpunk 2077 is facing the door this autumn (we hope, things have been delayed from them before) so another Polish studio fits, Qubic Games to (re) release his game Dex – a cyberpunk-action-RPG-metroidvania game in “open world” and in an improved version for Nintendo Switch. The game was first released on PC in 2014 and we have connected to the AI to find out if it lasts.
In the role of Dex, a blue-haired heroine with bionic enhancements, it’s your job to tackle the vicious organization that threatens your home, the futuristic city of Harbor Prime. You do this through jumping, shooting, hacking, climbing and a lot of fighting (and above all fleeing) spiced with upgrades and inventory management á la classic role-playing games.
There is something wonderful about the grant, the first feeling and the ambition in Dex. It wants so much, combining so many genres and recreating some kind of perfect, versatile cyberpunk experience, full of references, mood-creating dialogue and occasionally stylish tech-dystopian environments. The problem is that it wants to for much, while delivering fairly mediocre on most fronts. Even if there are moments here that sparkle and fascinate from time to time, the problems eventually become too frustrating.
If we start with the design, it is nice (overall, a bit uneven) but unfortunately un-functional. You try to create atmosphere (and save resources) by shading parts outside your absolute center. This, combined with dubious design on fixed lines, means that you often fall to your death, in the belief that you are landing on something that is solid. Even seemingly easy jumps can end in tears. Dex is a cool and moving character, most actually reminiscent of the whole gameplay of the old C64 classic Impossible Mission. But just because you love retro, not everything mossy from that time needs to be emulated as well. Why, for example, does the protagonist climb so annoyingly slowly when there is so much climbing involved?
Unfortunately, fighting is not much more fun or better than the rest, even though it is also a big part of the game. The best is when you can sneak in and assassinate the enemies with the push of a button. Otherwise you can hit, jump-kick and block, but the controls feel hateful and the precision is poor with the Switch’s analog levers – if we needed a good, digital steering cross. The fighters become more difficult than they should be and therefore 110 meters hurdles is often the best self-defense (to shop, that is). There are characters to talk to and “charisma” to develop for several dialogue options, but very often it feels like you end up with the same result, despite promises of “open world” and “non-linear” action.
Regarding how enhanced the game is on Switch is hard to say, as we did not play it when it went. Dex at least looks perfectly OK for an indie game and it moves well. But despite settings for LARGE text, everything is still tiny in portable mode, so a large screen TV is required for best results. All dialogue is loaded, so the only thing that will be challenging on the go is to read the options you want to answer with.
We applaud the ambition in Dex and had really wanted to love the result. The problem is probably that the developers Dreadlocks Ltd try to be too much, too many genres and you therefore do not excel in any. Dex is absolutely playable and worth trying if you love the genre (s) and can live with all the shortcomings. Under the surface there is a nice, little BladerunnerAnd Deus Ex in 2D-scented game title, who wants a lot. Too much, it turns out. But for SEK 150-200, maybe it might be worth taking a chance and getting something new for the Nintendo Switch, which is not exactly drowning in new game releases at the moment?