It's a shooter! It's a puzzler! No, it's DEXED!
When it comes to a game like DEXED, it's difficult to place it into a category. Is it a shooter? Yes, but not in the traditional sense. Is it a puzzler? Well, sure, but it rewards dexterity and precision more than smarts. Is it rewarding? Extremely.
The game's premise is relatively simple: you move on invisible rails through beautiful, detailed worlds where fire and ice are at odds. It's your job to neutralize waves of flying skulls. If a fiery skull is coming your way, shoot it with ice from one controller — if an icy skull emerges, hit it with a fireball from the other controller. It sounds easy, and I'm not saying it isn't at first, but when you get into it and start looking at combos and high scores, you realize you have a steep hill to climb.
To chain combos, you can mark multiple targets at once and release your projectiles at the same time; each of your motion controllers can be used at the same time to mark either fire or ice. Each target you add to a combo sounds a chime so you can keep track of how many you've lined up. I'd be lying if I said the chime didn't feed into a subconscious reward system, very much like slot machines. At the end of each round, I was ready to jump back in to do just a bit better.
There is a bit of defense on the side of the skulls — If you hit a fiery skull with fire or an icy skull with ice, they will shoot back at you as a penalty. Get hit with one of those, and your score will either burn away or freeze up for awhile, during which time you can't amass any points. You do have a shield you can throw up to protect yourself, adding just a bit more depth.
There are three levels of difficulty (not including Zen mode) to complete in each world, and there are global and friend-based leaderboards to climb — you'll find serious competition here. There is also an arcade mode that sends skulls at you out of a large wall; let any get by, and your health bar will drop. The arcade stage will last as long as your health bar does, and there are some enormous scores sitting at the top of the leaderboard. When it comes to replayability, this is where you'll find the most.
In total, including a fun boss battle after you've completed all stages, it should only take you a couple of hours to see most of what DEXED has to offer. If you're looking for a meaningful story or deep content, you'll probably be disappointed. If, however, you don't mind a game that is at times a combination of relaxation, challenge, and fast-paced shooting, you'll probably love spending time in the worlds the developer has created.
Beautiful, unique design
Ninja Theory, developer also of DmC: Devil May Cry and Heavenly Sword, employ a unique art style in most of their games, and it's evident here. Each of the worlds — Underwater, Inferno, Winterland, Forest, Showdown, and even the arcade stage — bring something different, and from the moment you start a level, you're immersed in what's happening around you.
You move slowly enough through the levels that you can take in some scenery while you're shooting down skulls, but there's also a Zen mode that lets you float through a level without worrying about shooting any skulls. Zen mode in itself could be a VR experience, especially when you add in the soothing soundtrack. During moments of action you'll hardly know it's there, but when you're sitting back to enjoy the sights, it definitely adds a layer to the gameplay.
DEXED is a unique VR experience that will appeal to a wide range of gamers thanks to relaxing Zen mode, challenging arcade mode, and everything in between. Unfortunately, that "everything" isn't exactly a lot, and some people might be left wanting more. Those of you looking for something a little different, however, something with beautiful artwork, a soothing soundtrack, and a high level of polish, can probably find enough to do here to warrant the $10 price tag.
- Worlds are beautiful
- Overall very polished
- Premise is solid
- Won't take long to play through