I really wanted to like DEX on the PS Vita. I’m a huge fan of the Deus Ex games and the PS Vita, so the idea of a solid 2D action-platformer-RPG inspired by Deus Ex released on PS Vita sounded like a dream come true! That was until-
-I finally booted it up and started playing through the tutorial, which was-
-more than a little hinting at some-
You see, DEX was made for PC first, and while it had a fairly warm reception when it came to home consoles, the Vita port is its first mobile outing. Which is really obvious, because it seems like the developers have no idea how to make a pixel art 2D game not have 5-10 second long loading screens at every turn on a handheld that can render Killzone: Mercenary without breaking a sweat.
Some changes I expected and some surprises I was happy to see, like the fact your view is way more zoomed out, and that actually works in DEX‘s favor, making the animations look silky smooth. You can also use the touch screen for the menus, have full audio control (so you can turn down the irritating sound effects while hacking in cyberspace), can scale the size of text, and can switch between “classic” and “casual” difficulty options. Additionally, players abroad will be happy to hear DEX supports over seven languages. These are all great to see, although it’d be nice if they offered a way to down down the flashing effects.
However, some design decisions are totally out of left field, like limiting each playthrough to a single manual save file. You seriously couldn’t afford the player even just three manual save slots per playthrough? It’s not exactly a short game, especially if you explore all the side quests, clocking in between 12 to 20 hours.
Other bizarre design decisions crop up as well. For instance, rather than binding roll to one of the triggers, you have to use the right stick to dodge, and hit the square button to punch. This means you have to rest your thumb across the stick (which is not comfortable) and try to keep it on both the square button and right stick whenever melee combat initiates. This is not convenient, and makes me wish DEX had proper control rebinding (something developers always seem to forget about when it comes to console and handheld ports, for some reason).
Then there’s the touchscreen functionality, or, lack of functionality I should say. Frequently, accessing the touchscreen would cause the game to bug out, continually re-enabling it over and over so I’d have to try and save the game, and then restart it just so I could keep playing. Which means I’d be waiting for the game to shutdown… restart and play the intro video… load the main menu… load where I was… and if I was going anywhere when I was last playing, then I’d have to wait again as I rounded a corner because apparently no one thought a mobile game should be quick and easy to play.
I know it seems like I’m harping on this point, but DEX needed more time in quality assurance. These bugs and design decisions drained any enthusiasm I had for the game within seconds of me trying to jump back in. It’s not for lack of quality to the game itself – based on what I have played, the gameplay mechanics, story, etc. are all quite intriguing. You can use melee or ranged combat, as well as negotiate or sneak around potential conflicts. There’s full voice acting as far as I’ve seen, and the musical score’s great. You even get tough moral choices where not everyone ends up happy. DEX is a full-fledged modern RPG in every sense of the word. A lot of love, time, and effort went into this title, and I love experiencing it…
…just not on my PS Vita.
When my game crashed upon me trying to enter a building, a mere hour into giving the port one last chance to impress me, I finally decided to bite the bullet and start installing my PC copy. I’ll happily be doing a full review of the game and its storyline on there, where I can leave these issues far behind. I hate having to do that, as this game should be a perfect fit for my favorite handheld, but they dropped the ball on this one.
This is a damn shame, because most of these issues should have been identified and fixed before release. I hope that developer Dreadlocks and the porting team at BadLand Games address these problems in future updates, because if they do, then PS Vita fans will have an awesome RPG to play. As it is though, playing DEX on PS Vita makes you a second class citizen, and none of us want to feel like we’re bending over for the megacorps of the 22nd century. (Editors note: If that’s your thing, we don’t judge… much.)
$19.99 ($14.99 on GOG.com); Twelve to twenty hours of cyberpunk shenanigans… if you can actually stand the load times and your game being killed by the occasional door frame.
A review copy of DEX was supplied for the purpose of this review by the developer.
Elijah’s destiny lies down a different path, one of the damned and forgotten, which can be found on YouTube at Unabridged Gamer and on Tumblr at Inkblots and Madness. He would like to point out that he got through this review without making any hacking jokes, because he isn’t a script kiddie.