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Dex review for PS Vita, PS4, Xbox One


Platform: PS Vita
Also On: PS4, Xbox One, PC
Publisher: Badland Games
Developer: Badland Games/Dreadlocks
Medium: Digital
Players: 1
Online: No
ESRB: M

It doesn't take long for Dex’s complete and utter hackiness to reveal itself: the game starts with the titular character being woken up telepathically by a mysterious being, who then tells her she needs to escape to a “hacktivist bar” and find someone named Decker.

Now, in isolation, one of those things might be acceptable. Stories starting with a character being woken up? A cliché, but every plot has to start somewhere. Using a buzzword to describe the main character? Again, stupid, but I guess it does the job of conveying to you exactly what kind of game you're getting into. But combining those two things in a sci-fi dystopia where a character's name is one step removed from being named after Blade Runner's protagonist? That's all a little too on the nose for my tastes.

Of course, considering all the game's other flaws, coming off as highly derivative is the least of Dex's concerns.

Like, if we're ranking everything it does wrong, I'd place “reliance on clichés” way behind the fact the combat is thoroughly uninspired. You walk up to baddies and just start punching, basically, and you punch until you've either worn them down or been punched so much your health is gone. If you're feeling stealthy, you can sneak up behind people and choke them out. There are also weapons, but those are about as fun to use as you'd expect. Whatever method you prefer, however, you're sure to be in for a forgettable experience.

Similarly, the clichés might be forgivable — or at least bearable — if they weren't delivered by some of the world's worst voice actors. Alas, such is not the case, and the game's terrible dialogue is given life by people who often sound like they're reading their lines for the first time, often in whatever “wacky” accents pop into their heads. The effect is kind of like watching a particularly annoying community theatre troupe who, for whatever reason, have been rendered digitally and thrown into a middling video game.

And speaking of amateurish, there's Dex's terrible performance. I'm not usually one to care about most of that stuff, which should tell you how egregiously bad it is here. Load times generally stretch into eternity, and the on-screen graphic showing how much has loaded has little to no basis in reality. On top of that, this game is prone to freezing and skipping and whatever other issues you can think of. It wasn't uncommon for the game to seize up in the middle of…well, anything, but it was particularly bad when you'd be trying to fight an enemy, and the game would pause for a moment while it figured out what it wanted to do next.

Perhaps the game's biggest sin, though, is the fact it seems to have been designed by someone who’s never seen how light works. Rather than, say, simply making everything brightly lit, or filling the world with shadows — both totally valid options — Dex's designers decided to make it so that you always had a narrow shaft of light in front and behind you at all times. On paper, I guess, that sounds okay, but in practice, it means you have a constantly shifting beam of light going in either direction, flickering on and off around corners depending on where you're standing on the screen, as if your character herself is a light source. It's visually confusing, and it really encapsulates everything this game does wrong.

But really, who am I kidding? Dex is so bad in so many ways, everything it does encapsulates all that it does wrong. That's kind of the way it is for bad games, and when a game is as bad as Dex, it shouldn't be a surprise when everything about it is awful.

Grade: D