Estimated reading time: 3 minutes
A short but incredibly cool game, DEXED might offer somewhat limited content but has a really good grasp on how to make an engaging game in VR. Not so much a tech demo as a proof of concept, I really do wish there was more here, because DEXED is an excellent experience.
I actually did something of a double take when I saw that this was a game produced by Ninja Theory. I’ve been a huge fan of several of their titles over the years (I’d still pay for an HD remake and / or proper sequel to Heavenly Sword if you’re reading this), so a small scale virtual reality game by them was not what I expected.
However, once I realizes who was behind it, the polish in the visuals, sound and music as well as the excellent controls all made sense. This is an incredibly stylized shooter that makes outstanding use of the motion tracking on both hands. Everything here is pretty straight forward – unsurprising for an on-rails shooter, which is what this is.
Ninja Theory has done a lovely job of illustrating out some incredibly different stages. Fire and snow and an underwater stage (the last of which was probably my favorite) and more all have a distinct visual and audio style to them. You have two primary elemental attacks – fire and ice. Your enemies come in two flavors as well, and as you would expect you are tasked with taking them down using the opposing element. A nice wrinkle in the gameplay is how you can hold the trigger down to mark your enemies and then fire off a volley of projectiles all at once, adding some risk / reward gameplay into the mix. However, you need to focus on hitting the right targets – failing to do so will impact your score in a negative way, and really DEXED is all about racking up a big score for the leaderboards.
That is the biggest shortcoming here – there are only a handful of levels and each only takes you about five minutes or so to complete. I beat all of the core stages in under half of an hour, which really kind of sucks since I enjoyed the game itself so much. In some ways it reminds me of an old school arcade game where the objective is more about getting a high score than anything else. Given the modest price point to DEXED (ringing in around ten bucks, which is actually cheaper than a lot of similarly sized but not nearly as polished VR titles out there), is a fun experience.
The sound effects and music are well done, but slightly at odds with the game. They have an almost oddly relaxed vibe to them at times, which is kind of the exact opposite of the action-heavy gameplay. They suit the visual stylings of the stages better than the actual gameplay itself, but this is only a very minor quibble.
All in all DEXED surprised me with its addicting gameplay loop that reminds of old style arcade games. What is here is a great deal of fun, but Ikaruga-like ‘opposite attack’ gameplay works really well here and adds a layer of thoughtfulness to what could very easily have been a ho-hum shooting experience. If anything, I was disappointed that DEXED ended so soon, because what is here works – and I wanted to see a lot more of it.Score: 7 / 10