DEXED, like many of its contemporaries, afixes a simple mechanic to motion controls and relies mostly on the pleasure of being within virtual environments. On-rails shooting is inevitably more compelling in VR, but that’s not to say it needn’t attempt to be engaging (see Lethal VR).
DEXED is split into a handful of levels, ranging from an underwater ravine to a lush forest. Each leads the player through a scenic path of weathered landscapes, pre-occupied wildlife and, of course, flying skull enemies covered in fire or ice. DEXED relies on elementally polar targets to deepen what would otherwise be a barebones rail-shooter. Ice enemies require a fire blast to be destroyed and vice-versa. Each Move controller (or side of the controller when using a Dualshock) correlates to an element. Holding the trigger paints targets before releasing the attack upon them. What results is a test of accuracy, punishing reckless attacks on enemies of the incorrect type.
Weaving my crosshairs between streams of alternate coloured skulls delicately, yet before they passed kept me more engaged than shooting away at similarly damaged enemies might have. Things never grow far further, though. There are strategies to master here; using either hand to target spereate streams, or carefully using both to individually target a mixed group all at once, but little reason to do so. The complexity of enemy movements doesn’t trend too far upwards, and encouragement to master more complicated techniques would be purely self-imposed. As it stands, the shooting was enough to carry me through the few levels DEXED offers, but I feel no drive to stick with it or work on my scores.
The other side of game are the environments in which each level is set. Anyone who loves the ability of VR to inject a player into a space will find some pleasure in the tranquil, calm worlds of DEXED. Each serene landscape is visually distinct and believably presented. It’s cool to float through an enigmatic, volcanic chasm, passing by spouts of lava and glowing stone. It’s such a shame there’s no mechanical benefit to appreciating each setting. Having to spot targets amongst intricacies of the environments or in distant landmarks could have played to my favourite parts of DEXED more than directing my attention mostly forward did.
The zen difficulty offers an even more peaceful stroll through each level, while leaderboards for each difficulty are present for anyone who can find the motivation to strive for prevalance. There’s also an arcade mode, focusing entirely on the shooting in a plain arena. This is where the gameplay can become the most interesting, putting the player against more specific enemy patterns in more time sensitive movements. A bomb enemy adds one slight variation into the situation, but adds as a reminder that there’s nothing else of the sort. Some kind of power-ups or a range of enemies susceptible to specific strategies could have been very valuable to DEXED, especially in Arcade mode.
DEXED is a shallow but pleasant VR shooter. Its variously themed yet consistently styled levels justify DEXED as a VR game, while the shooting itself feels more like an excuse to fly through said environments. It’s hard to not think of this as a trial run for Ninja Theory in developing for virtual reality – it does little to prove itself as much more. That said, everything DEXED offers is highly polished, well presented and comes across as created with care.