One of the elements which often gets ignored in modern gaming is the indie game. With so much focus on the Triple A games being released every year, those created by smaller studio are impulse buys and "until I have something else to play" at best--at least for most gamers. That means some surprising gems have been overlooked. One of these gems is one I'm going to take a moment to talk
|The combat isn't too far from Double Dragon.|
Harbour Prime is a dirty graffiti covered hellhole inhabited by gangs, prostitutes, and thugs who wander the streets along with ordinary citizens. There's a lot of side-quests available for Dex to participate in from rescuing a young man from sex trafficking, robbing smugglers of cybernetic parts, and dealing with an attempt to patent food so as to force independent restaurants out of business. About 80% of the game is the sidequests and that's a good thing because the main quest is fairly straightforward while the sidequests all have multiple endings as well as different ways to approach. My favorite was an aging pop star dealing with a loony fan and both of them seeing the potential of cybernetic vocal chords to create a new career. You can side with the pop star, the loony fan, or arrange so they kill each other for shits and giggles.
|I love Harbour Prime. It's a wonderful setting.|
The art design for the world is extremely well done. Harbour Prime has all the feeling of a proper cyberpunk setting with horrific bombed out slums, a sleazy Red Light district, and a fantastic district for the super rich. It reminded me a bit of a much-better designed Final Fight and I appreciated the fact you could fast travel between all the districts at will. Despite being limited in graphic budget, the place is well-done with lots of hidden nooks and crannies to explore.
|Harbour Prime has a huge amount of personality.|
The biggest flaws of the game are the fact combat is extremely basic and a broken boring hacking minigame. Even the developers commented the hacking minigame sucks. The RPG elements actually make both harder. For example, you can't kick until you upgrade your melee skill, for instance, and that's just ridiculous. The combat can thus be summarized as punching guys and rolling out of the way of their counterattacks until they go down. Using guns is barely viable as they don't do that much more damage than punching and quickly runs through ammo.
|The sleazy elements are perfectly developed.|
Dex, herself, is a great character and someone I wouldn't be unhappy to see become the star of a series of games. She doesn't speak much but what she does creates a mysterious and fascinating character. I admit to playing her as a professional thief, lover of prostitutes, and killer with a heart of gold. Others may go for a more heroic build.
|Great comic book cutscene art.|
In conclusion, Dex is a surprisingly great game which got lost in the indie slush pile. A sequel is unlikely but the Dreadlocks team have continually updated and enhanced the game since its release so perhaps all is not lost. It's kind of funny that a tiny studio in the Czech Republic made such a delightfully cyberpunk game. With CD Projekt Red's upcoming Cyberpunk 2077, maybe there's just something about post-communist life which draws people to cyberpunk.