Certain games and genres come to mind when you hear Ninja Theory’s name. They’ve made a name for themselves with Heavenly Sword, Enslaved: Odyssey To The West, and DmC: Devil May Cry, and while the studio worked on the Disney Infinity titles in some capacity too, it is those action titles that have defined the studio. This year we’re expecting yet another from Ninja Theory in the form of Hellblade, but the studio’s first experiment with VR takes the form of an on-the-rails shooter.
You need a pair of Move controllers in order to play Dexed, as fire and ice are controlled by separate hands. It’s easy to understand that you shoot ice at fire enemies and fire at ice enemies – trying to fight fire with fire will drop your score for a short time, while shooting ice with ice freezes your score. It’s simple to grasp, but can still take a little time to master.
As a VR title, the enemies will be flying all around you, meaning you have to be quite quick to lock on to targets. You don’t just pull the trigger to fire, but have to hold the trigger to lock on and fire missile-like projectiles. While aiming, you can lock onto a number of targets, but obviously have to be careful you don’t end up with the wrong enemy type in your sights.
You need to be quick off the mark, especially on the Hard difficulty as the levels seem faster when compared to the lower difficulties, giving you have a much smaller window of opportunity to hit targets. Once you go through a level a few times, you begin to remember the patterns of where these enemies emerge from and in what groups, meaning you become more prepared. The only issue is that there are only four levels and a boss level in the main campaign. The four levels last a couple of minutes while the boss level has a timer of five minutes to complete it.
Dexed does feature an endless arcade mode though, and it is here where skills are truly tested. On top of having the penalties of your score being reduced or frozen by using the wrong ammo on the wrong enemy there’s also the threat of losing health. If you allow an enemy to float around and make its escape you will lose health, and this problem will grow as more find their way to the exit. It’s arcade mode and the leaderboards where the longevity for Dexed will lie.
There’s also a Zen mode for each stage where you travel along the rail and take in your surroundings without having to worry about shooting at targets. The environments do look really nice in Dexed and you can see how much effort Ninja Theory has put into them. The underwater and snow levels are particular highlights when it comes to showing off the visuals.
At the same time there’s a little frustration when a target doesn’t lock as soon as you’d like it to, which can mean missing out on hitting an enemy at the right time, or the delay seeing another get in the way of your targeting instead. Dexed is also a short game with the levels on offer feeling like an opener for something much bigger. That said, the game is less than £10 so it should be considered a budget title, and is actually quite cheap in the pantheon of early VR games.
Dexed is a valiant first attempt by Ninja Theory in the VR space but it suffers like many other early VR titles by feeling more like a tech demo than a full game. When you factor in the price, you are getting an okay package, but it’s unlikely you’ll want to head back once you’ve played through the stages on offer for a few hours.
With Dexed Ninja Theory shows it has a great understanding of VR and how to use it. Hopefully they’ll be able to take those lessons to create a bigger VR title down the line. If you are looking for a budget VR title then Dexed may be what you’re looking for, for a short time at least.
Version tested: PSVR