On the heels of Cyberpunk 2077, the recent release of Blade Runner – The Final Cut on Netflix, and the ongoing speculations about a possible season 3 of Altered Carbon, comes a neo-noir, cyberpunk, 2D action-RPG called Dex for the Nintendo Switch. Published by QubicGames and developed by Dreadlocks, Dex was originally released on the PC in 2015, and has since then run the gauntlet through all of the major consoles until eventually arriving on the Switch this past summer.
Dex is the main character in this game. With her blue hair, unique abilities, and real-time combat skills, you are tasked with finding answers and escaping the many lurking enemies that occupy the open-world streets of Harbor Prime.
For those of you that are unfamiliar with the genres of neo-noir and cyberpunk, Dex is set in a dystopian future where advanced technology and lawless subculture intersect. Harbor Prime is a gritty metropolis with plenty of flashy venues and mysterious characters occupying its streets. However, Dex remains true to its neo-noir intentions with its many smoky and gloomy backdrops.
Dex is a visually impressive game for the Nintendo Switch’s standards. It is clear that a lot of time, effort, and resources were put into creating this colourful, yet noir-esque environment. Any aspect of the environment that you can interact with will light up as you approach it. As such, you won’t have much difficulty navigating the main streets and dark alleys of Harbor Prime.
The audio presentation is stylish and enjoyable. The musical score has a synth-wave vibe which adds to the intensity and unpredictability that surrounds Dex. It seems as if every action and reaction have an appropriate and high-quality sound effect, so it’s a treat to hear the sounds of the characters, weapons, and environment come to life. With that said, I must give kudos to Dreadlocks for casting such excellent voice actors and actresses for this game. Each character has their own unique voice, which enhances the overall presentation of this title. Some gamers enjoy reading subtitles, but some of us would much rather hear the characters actually speak. However, you’ll still have some reading to do, but not enough to feel overwhelmed or antsy to skip ahead to the action.
The gameplay mechanics are fairly simple, but they sometimes feel clunky, especially the combat. Handling Dex reminded me a lot of the character handling found in Sega Genesis’s 1993 version of X-Men. Dex’s strikes and front rolls just didn’t feel fluid to me. Playing Dex on the Switch with Joy-Con grips attached hindered my overall experience of this game. The Joy-Con buttons are tiny, and my thumbs are likely oversized for its design. Some of you may not experience any issues with this, even if you have large thumbs, but on several occasions, I found myself pressing the wrong button or accidentally combining buttons. If you have larger hands, I’d recommend investing in the Nintendo Switch Pro Controller and docking your Switch to display on a HD monitor.
Dex’s storyline is relatively deep for a game of its size and scope. With that said, this game is designed for an older crowd. It’s plot and dialogue will likely fly over the heads of younger gamers. Moreover, this title has an ESRB rating of 17+, so you may want to plug in your headphones if you’re gaming with little ears around.
One of the most enjoyable aspects of this game is being able to tailor the experience to your style of play. If you wish to operate Dex in a more-stealthy fashion, you can adjust her skillset to do so. If you wish to roll up guns-a-blazing, you can adjust her skillset to do that to. Combining this customization feature with the game’s non-linear gameplay, it’s possible to replay this title with a much different experience.
As with any RPG, you’ve got choices, so make sure that you carefully select your responses during the many interactions you have throughout Dex’s adventure. This means that you’ll likely have to put your trust in some shady individuals during your quest.
In conclusion, Dex’s satisfying visual and audio presentation, paired with its customization options, and mature storyline makes this game worth your investments. If you can accept the sometimes-clunky combat, you’ll find yourself gleefully lost in the streets of Harbor Prime searching for answers while evading thugs, pitfalls, and cyberattacks.
~~Eric “The Red” Collins~~