Head Shots

Holiday deal spotlight: Dex, the pixel art cyberpunk RPG

Dreadlocks
Promotional image for Dex by Dreadlocks Ltd
Dex

Holiday sales are massive in the digital shelves of Steam and GOG, so it's easy to miss out on great deals, but we got you covered. If you like cyberpunk, pixel art, RPGs with satisfying progression and more, get a copy of Dex at 90% off.

This article will be full of praise for Dex, with an added suggestion to buy the game, so a disclaimer is in order - this is not a sponsored post. I simply liked a game I got it at a bargain price and felt like there was a lot of consumer value in it. In other words, I felt this was good bang for my buck and thought it might be a good idea to share the hidden gem with more people.

Anyway, onto the juicy stuff - scrolling through Steam and GOG holiday sale lists, I ran into Dex that was 90 per cent and 80 per cent off in the stores, respectively. It will set you back $1,99 / €1,99 / £1,49 on Steam, or $2,99 / €2,99 / ~£2,49 on GOG.

What is more important is that I found the game to be worth my time. It is an RPG in a cyberpunk setting which probably piqued the interest of many people reading this. As such, it features progression through levelling which will let you unlock additional abilities or perfect your combat skills.

The progression system doesn't stop there since there are implants that will boost Dex's capabilities, such as better damage resistance against certain attacks or improve her own damage potential. Some implants will allow for more exploration, which adds another layer to the game's depth, on top of the hacking minigame that will also get easier as you get better implants and software.

Dreadlocks LtdPicture of the hacking minigame in DexDex - You can hack both people and machines here. Once you do, you will be presented with a hacking minigame where you fight against the countermeasures

As you may have noticed by now, the protagonist's name is Dex and the game is called the same way, which may cause some confusion while reading this, but the context should clarify whether I'm talking about the game or the character.

Speaking of characters, Dex is filled with colourful personalities, and many of them feature stories of their own. Players will get to interact with them through quests, and the fate of most of these characters will be decided through Dex's decisions. You will find that rewards from these quests will vary and they are often tied to what happens with the NPCs during your adventures.

Yes, your decisions matter in an indie RPG game, which made me wonder what is causing the issues with AAA RPGs that are getting watered down all the time.

Dreadlocks LtdPicture of Dex talking with a drug dealerDex - Dialogue

Dex is a semi-voice-acted game, meaning some dialogue interactions may not offer voice lines, primarily coming from the protagonist, Dex. As for the quality of voice acting, it has been a pleasant surprise to see good talent, especially because this is an indie game. Characters sound immersive and voice actors play their parts well.

Quite ironically, I would single out Dex as the exception here, since her voice fit with neither the atmosphere nor the situations when her lines were being delivered. There are a few other voiced bloopers, when a character starts yelling all of a sudden, but a few unpolished lines hardly detract from the game's value.

Anyway, despite being a 2D game, Dex is anything but linear. Players will be moving all over the city named Harbour prime, back and forth, depending on what, when and where they need to do something. The pixel art style may throw some people off, but it looks beautiful in its own way, especially since Dreadlocks Ltd. nailed the cyberpunk aesthetic.

Dreadlocks LtdPicture of Dex walking around the cityDex - Protagonist in a trench coat, Chinese culture references, neon lights and a gun shop. All of these traits add to the Cyberpunk aesthetic.

When it comes to gameplay, combat situations can be handled through firefights or good old fisticuffs. Or you can avoid some fights entirely through the dialogue options. 

Ranged weapons are somewhat limited as there are only six different guns in the entire game. Aiming may prove tricky at times if you are playing on a gamepad, but it's nothing horrible. You don't need to stop moving in order to pop your aim out, which is child's play on mouse and keyboard setups but fiddling with analogue sticks while holding R2 / RB while attempting precision aiming can be challenging.

Dreadlocks LtdPicture of Dex shooting some guardsDex - This is a laser gun, that oddly enough has recoil, just like its ballistic counterparts.

Meanwhile, melee combat proved to be a great workaround in case you don't feel like aiming in Dex. You start out with a basic melee combo but over the course of the game you will be able to knock enemies down or deal more damage with extended combos, provided you can pull them off.

Some enemies will be bigger and stronger than you so crowd control may prove ineffective, while others will be quicker than you, forcing you on the defence where you will need to dodge or block their attacks before launching your own. Bottom line, the melee combat system is fairly deep and engaging.

So, this ended up being a review of a three, soon to be four-year-old indie game. Hopefully, it will help you decide whether you should play it, but more importantly, I hope Dex gets some attention since it definitely deserved more than it got. Initially, the reviews for this game didn't look as good as they do today, due to a pile of bugs that have been fixed over time.

In case you get Dex on Steam, make sure you download the additional outfits, via free DLC, and double check whether you installed it. It will add three special suits with additional abilities to the game. GOG users shouldn't have any issues with the DLC.