Games of the Year

Dex

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Explore, fight, talk and hack your way through a rich cyberpunk world in this 2D action-RPG! Wanted dead by a mysterious and far-reaching organization, you will traverse the futuristic city of Harbor Prime and make unexpected allies on your quest to bring down the system! In this cyberpunk adventure inspired by Blade Runner and Neuromancer, you are free to choose your playstyle: will you be a silent assassin, a hacker, a diplomat or a straightforward gunfighter? Designed as a throwback to earlier 2D platforming and action games combined with modern RPG elements, Dex offers real-time combat, a mature storyline and interactive dialogues. Customize your character’s skills, equipment and even augmentations – implants which grant you superhuman abilities and open up new paths within the game’s open world.
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Game Discussion

Review by Anonymous
Review from Steam

I attempted to run this game twice, the first time depleting my resources early game and finding myself stuck. However, my second run went smoothly, I knew which perks worked for me, etc and the game was fun and over quickly. It's a good enough game that I'm considering getting a copy on Switch to play while homeless.

Review from Steam

Bad points first: The combat is pretty crap, ladder climbing is buggy, and some platforming sections are annoying given that a fall means instant death.
If you can get past that, Dex is a diamond in the rough, one of those little indie gems that manages to create a compelling world. Set in a cyberpunk dystopia, the game weaves a story for you to unravel that has you curiously moving forward right from the start. A good mix of action and dialogue, with voice acting far better than you'd expect given the low-res graphics, Dex remains engaging over the entire course of a playthrough, which is more than many games can say.
Is it shortish? Yeah, it's a little shortish. But that's because there's no padding with an empty open world, or respawning random encounters, or huge time wasting quests. The side-quests are all interesting, the story is well-written, you get to make big RPG choices in story and not just in skill development, and the cybernetic upgrades and cyberspace hacking stuff is fun. So fun, in fact, that I finished it in a single weekend, because I couldn't stop playing.
A decade or two ago, I was excited about the label "80-100 hours" on an RPG. These days I consider that a warning, because 11 hours of fun in an 88 hour RPG is a lot of slog. Dex is 11 hours of fun in an 11 hour action RPG with interesting characters to meet, weaving action, dialogue, stealth, and hacking into a game that is definitely worth your while.
Of course, if you can pick it up on a big sale or in a bundle like I did, better yet.

Review from Steam

I hope to leave something of a constructive review so I'll begin by saying the graphic's were very nice.
As a huge fan of the Cyberpunk genre, this game didn't disappoint on the grimy dark scifi aesthetic I came looking for.
It surprised me to find that Jan Jirkowsky, the original designer for the game, passed away at 26. There's no real easy way to say that. I'm left with all kinds of questions about him. Which parts of his work live on in the game now that it's been released? How much came after his passing? How did he pass? It's hard to discuss Dex without first discussing Jan. Wikipedia says nothing. Google tells me about as much. I wonder what this game meant to him. Was it his passion project? His Magnum Opus? Or simply the last thing he got to work on?
Jan's passing likely greatly affected this work, no matter what else.
That all being said, I'll try to keep the rest of my review focused on the game.
I hope it is not too critical or harsh given the circumstances behind it's development cycle.
First, the game lacked intuitiveness in some area's. There were many quests which I was completely lost upon. I didn't like needing to go back to the journal and retrace my steps in order to determine what it was I was supposed to be doing
Second... overall the Audio of the game, besides the voice acting, was quite lacking. It seems to me that great attention to detail was put into the voice cast of the game, and substantially less effort was put into the SFX and music of the game. The music loops were brief and repetitive and I still hate to think of the main theme of harbour prime beating away in my eardrums. A simple "Babababa" sound over and over again ad nauseum. To be honest, the music sucked so bad that I ended up turning it off halfway through the game and leaving it off for the rest of the game.
The rest of the sound effects deeply sucked as well, very generic and bland in most cases, very uninspired. The heavy pistol had a very bland "Blam!" sound to it in poor quality that I've been hearing in video games for like 20 years. The Shotgun has a flat "Kat!" sound that would be more suiting as an automatic weapon. This shotgun was flat and weak sounding. Very unsatisfying. The fully automatic did not hold nearly enough ammo to be fun (12 rounds?! Seriously?!) but I understand any more might've disrupted game balance. This could've been remedied easier by making the gun hold 24 rounds yet doing half the damage, it would simply be more fun to spray the enemy with more bullets before running out and being forced back to the slow reload animation.
Similiarly, the alarm klaxons that ring out whenever being spotted by turrets or security camera's was extremely repetitive and annoying. A soft blipping sound would suffice. But in this case loud, annoying klaxons were chosen. Anyone pausing the game to go make a quick snack or fetching a drink would find themselves quickly annoyed hearing the klaxon blare again and again until they return to move away from the source of the noise or to shoot the damn thing. I simply can't gripe hard enough about the terrible sound design.
Games like "Breath of Fire" or "Resident Evil" have very iconic menu sound effects that are pleasing to hear again and again. Dex does not. Dex has a very bad "BLOING BLOING" sound as you're selecting things in the menu screens. It's annoying. It loops very poorly and given how most players are navigating more than one button at a time through your menus, more thought should have been put into a sound that sucks less than the one the game is currently using.
The plot? Very good. I found myself needing to slow down to absorb it all at times. Like a good novel. It definitely shows that real work was put into the many narrative area's of the game. It all feels believable and lived in. Characters are all unique and interesting. The interactions between various NPC's are interesting. Even the various randomly generated crowds are full of interesting characters walking by.
Gameplay wise, I found it either too difficult or too slow paced. I lowered the difficulty and it made things somewhat better. Dex seems to have been aiming for a more nuanced, thinking man's type of combat and it misses it's mark slightly, I was spamming ranged attacks and exploiting the enemy AI's to pass most of the more difficult combat.
The hacking minigame? Well, each cyberpunk game has it's own spin on hacking. Dex is no different, switching to a very interestingly illustrated twin-stick shooter during hacking. I hate to admit that it doesn't really innovate in this area of gameplay. It plays as a very by-the-books twin stick shooter and it's sad. The hacking in any cyberpunk game should be fun and exciting. It was not. Instead I felt like I was transported, not into the Matrix but into an entirely different game that was shoehorned into Dex's code and plot. I never was a big fan of Bullet Hell games and that's all that Dex's hacking amounts to. It's normal to abstract Hacking in a Cyberpunk game into something else. But Dex's hacking sections were never fun for me. Instead I forced myself thru such sections in order to advance the plot forward just a little more.
To return to the subject of intuitiveness: I got so frustrated and did not want to resort to sitting down and reading a loredump via the journal that I simply went on a killing rampage throughout the city. This granted me a lot of money and XP but did nothing to advance the story. Defeated, I put the game down for a few days, and reluctantly read through the journal at last, only to discover I had unwittingly completed several quests in a row and all I had to do was turn in all my quests en masse. Surely not the way the designers imagined that plot progression going, so I'm reporting it now.
Despite all that, my experience with Dex was still a positive one. In fact, did I hear something about a Dex 2?? I'm very interested if that is the case. I'm not afraid to label Dex as something of a Cyberpunk Aficionado's must-play. It's a flawed masterpiece. I can only imagine what this team might've accomplished if they had not faced the setbacks from losing Jan that it did.
And enjoy it I did. I hope none of this leaves the dev team feeling discouraged. I did my best to keep it constructive. One more tip on the sound design; The voice acting was fine in most parts, yes, but what needs to be accounted for is that some players (such as myself) skipped great deals of the voice acting altogether in favor of reading the storyline and paging through it. There were very few parts that were voiceacted so superbly that I preferred it over the text. (Except for Richmond. I don't know why but he was a compelling character and voice actor. Do try and hire that fellow again, he does your game a great service by voicing in it) I imagine the voice acting also takes up quite a bit of disk space so, maybe place less emphasis on great voice actors, and try to make more dynamic music loops and less generic sound effects in the next Dex game?
I'll definitely be watching this studio's future works and keeping an eye open for Dex 2.
I'll say it one more time incase anyone missed it: Dex is a flawed masterpiece. And despite it's flaws, I definitely think it's worth a purchase and a playthrough. Especially for fans of the Cyberpunk Genre.
The visuals were terrific as well from start to finish. Dex is not an ugly game. That's something to be proud of. As well, it's attempt to fuse both ranged combat and melee works somewhat, and is very ambitious in my opinion. I think Dex 2 would do well to have more options, however, for melee weapons. Just a thought. I'm sure it'll be worth the wait and will be better than it's first entry in the franchise in many ways. I look forward to it.
From one indie Dev to another, cheers! And jolly good game! I thoroughly enjoyed it, front to back.
-CK

Review from Steam

Good story with some choices, for a 2D indie game it manages to pull off a world building pretty well.
Combat is fast, however you can perfect most enemies with no damage taken given the wide array of armaments you bare.
The "hacking" is a pretty basic bullet hell game. Actually quite easy, just make sure to upgrade it a tad with some abilities to even it out. Otherwise you can get overwhelmed.
The game doesn't really let you "grind" it persay. So you have to compromise on skill points and loadout.
I was able to get it on sale for 1.49 but it's normally for 14.99GBP. I was able to complete it in 11 hours. But I suspect you could get 9-15 out it. Maybe 20+ if you really read into the story and experiment with all plot lines. The store is "none-linear", but if you give it any thought it's pretty obvious it's just multiple choices per mission with no real lasting consequences. Don't think too hard about it basically.
Overall a pretty good game and plays into the Cyberpunk genre very well. Beyond the combat, real *good* cyberpunk makes you question our path as a species and this does exactly that. Give the wiki the browse if you get stuck. The quest descriptions normally are very descriptive and ensure you don't get lost. However in some cases the Wiki really came in clutch.
Overall 6.5/10.
Pros: No farming, just story
Cons: Has some mechanics that are either poorly implemented or just kinda cringe like condom dispensers everywhere with the ability to "have sex". Don't really add in anyway to the gameplay, story or world building. You just see a black screen and it's "done". Quite a few features can be described like this. Cool but also wouldn't miss it.

Review from Steam

This is probably the best 2D rpg I have ever played to date (it definitely helps that I am a huge Cyberpunk fan and love the hacker aesthetic). The combat, while not revolutionary by any means, is not nearly as difficult as people make it seem. In fact, by making smart level-up choices (and especially by utilizing the DLC outfits), the combat is not very difficult at all. I think many people are just used to playing rediculously-easy games and get angry when they can't just brute force their way through challenges and are forced to actually think before mashing buttons.
Anyways, this game is not about the combat or the graphics -- I know...shocker.... The narrative, worldbuilding, characters, side quests, platforming, puzzles, and bullet-hell hacking are what make this game amazing. Although the gist of the primary narrative of this game has been seen in other games/movies/books before, I thought Dex took a great spin on it - the dialogue really is top notch in this game in terms of making you really weigh out your options before making a decision - particularly at the end.
To anyone who is looking for a good cyberpunk narrative that has incredible writing and thought-provoking philosophical implications regarding the direction humanity seems to be going in in real life, definitely give this game a shot; it was worth every penny.
To the devs:
Great job - it seems these days that the status quo in games is to sacrifice story, characters, writing... pretty much everything... in order to focus 90% of the development effort on graphics, and (just like in our school systems) to dumb down everything so that EVERYONE can feel like a winner.... I applaud you for making a game that does the complete opposite of this. This game made me think about my choices before making them, had a few great puzzles that actually required critical thought (CRASH puzzle was the best), and best of all, the narrative was actually MEANINGFUL. Most games (in my opinion) coming out these days are just mindless button-pushing simulators with pretty graphics and little-to-know meaningful dialogue. This is the first game I have played in a while where literally every sidequest had great dialogue that I enjoyed completing. Bravo for showcasing the superiority of games that focus on the actual content instead of just how it looks. As an aspiring indie game dev myself, this game has been a huge inspiration for me. I look forward to anything else you put out in the future.

Review from Steam

This is a sweet game. I got a bug climbing up a ladder into the sky in the first 10 minutes and I have no idea how to post a screenshot on Steam.
EDIT: I, for one, believe in the ladder to heaven.

Review from Steam

One of the best 2d rpgs i ever played. Nearly every ability you can learn feels relevant. Its long enough but not to long. The art- and soundwork is simply fantastic. The fights and hacking arcade sequences are fun enough

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