I feel like we're entering an exceedingly strange era. Once not very long ago at all, we bellowed, "Enough same-y modern settings and straightforward mechanics! Bring back old-school settings like cyberpunk and gameplay inspired by Deus Ex." Now we're drowning in that stuff. Cyberpunk is the neo-retro-even-in-Saints-Row hotness, and single-player games are brimming with choice again. I do wonder, though, when we'll start tiring of cyberpunk and its associated narrative themes. I kind of already am, to be honest. Don't get me wrong: Dex, which is essentially sidescrolling Deus Ex with a cyberspace twist, looks very nice. I've just been down a lot of neon-lit, rainslick alleys lately, is all. Eventually, they all start to look kind of similar.
Dex has a very nice look to it, if you ask me, and it's ticking all the boxes. Multi-pathed levels that encourage you to do your own thing? Check. A Neuromancer-inspired story about hacking and transhumanism? Yup. Character progression that allows stealth so quiet that your tip-toes are augmented with their own smaller tip-toes, Rambo-style gun-crobatics, and everything in between? Absolutely.
But what, aside from the perspective switcheroo, makes Dex stand out? Well, hacking certainly sounds interesting. Essentially, it functions as a dual-world mechanic, providing both real and virtual reality versions of each location.
"With Dex, we have two intertwining realities. An obstacle or problem in physical reality can be overcome through cyberspace. On the other hand, if too many ICE (Intrusion Countermeasure Electronics) are encountered in cyberspace, it might be better to return to the physical body and overcome the area’s obstacles by an alternative route. All locations and important gameplay objects (enemies, cameras, turrets, drones…) have a corresponding representation in augmented reality. This twofold division allows for multiple solutions to game problems in a natural and authentic way."
Neat, huh? Dex is asking for £14,000 on Kickstarter - the cable-cradled womb of all things cyberpunk these days - and it's making slow but steady progress thus far. If it secures funding, the plan is to launch in June 2014. Will you lend it your digitized electro-authenticated cash, or are you starting to feel a bit cyberpunked out?