‘Discover the truth behind an enigmatic AI striving to reach the Singularity, a theoretical “event horizon” in which artificial intelligence will surpass human intelligence and all bets about the future will be off. How will you play your part in the story? Explore the futuristic city of Harbor Prime and meet its many inhabitants, answer the challenges the city has to offer, roam the neon-lit streets, and augment your character with skills and implants. Designed as a tribute to the classic RPGs from the ‘90s, updated for a modern audience, Dex invites you to become part of a living, breathing cyberpunk universe as you decide which ultimate path you will embrace.’
Dex is a 2D cyberpunk RPG which has a focus on storytelling and exploration elements more than combat, although it does still play a part. You play as a hacker called ‘Dex’ who is on the run from a collection of organisations known as ‘The Complex.’ The main story, set in the fictional hub of ‘Harbour Prime’ sees you trying to find out information about The Complex, yourself and the world in general with a plot which becomes more apparent as the game progresses.
The story in Dex starts out with little-to-no clues as to what is going on until we start actually progressing and more details are revealed. I won’t go into any details since again, a lot of the story is revealed as you play it but it is the fairly usual setting of evil corporations vs the people. With the cyberpunk setting and focus on augmentation to humans in Dex it is also a bit similar to Deus Ex but a 2D version. There are a few points where the story lacks a bit but the main narrative is solid overall.
Exploration plays a key part in Dex. It allows you to find new places where you may come across quests, items or maybe even character upgrades. The majority of quests also have new options opened to the way you can complete them by exploring. For example, if you go off and check other rooms of buildings which you aren’t required to in a quest then you might find a computer to hack which disables all security in that area. The same concept also links in with hacking which I will get into soon.
The side quests play a very large part in the game. Most games would allow you to ignore the majority of them without worry and then you can be on your way through the main quest, but not Dex. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing since it promotes doing more in the game and progressing your character; this is due to the difficulty jumps in the main story being quite drastic, therefore needing money and upgrades. You meet a variety of characters which offer side quests and some of these quests even mix in with each other and the main quest which makes everything in the world connect well. Some side quests even have a variety of endings to them, allowing you to decide from multiple outcomes by how you handle it.
Another main part of the gameplay is hacking. This links in with the exploration but it is also a big part since it is the only real unique ability which is with you no matter what. Other unique abilities are available through augmentations but these are all down to playstyle and aren’t required, although a few of them allow better exploration and being able to complete quests or see things you otherwise couldn’t.
Anyway, hacking is a big part of the game since a lot of information you need for quests requires it. When hacking you go into a small mini game where you control a cursor with a turret, navigating cyberspace and dodging all of its hazards while finding the data you need. It mixes in exploration and combat by allowing you to find more information the more you explore but also bringing in twin stick shooter elements. There is also combat outside of hacking but it feels very underdeveloped and lacking. That, and upgrading combat over exploration or speech abilities limits the amount you get to see of the game.