Dexter The Game Review: Pure Fanservice, Not Without Dark Side

People tend to immediately look over game adaptations from movies, and TV tends to be no different.  You can’t blame gamers: licensed material is rarely inspired and is normally part of a marketing program rather than an experience.  Luckily for us, Dexter The Game is clearly developed by those with the time and resources to make a detailed experience for the Showtime hit show.

Dexter has you roughly following the events of the show, starting right from the first season.  You’ll be playing the part of Dexter with some choices to make along the way.  Dexter has a journal that logs clues and progression on victims, and a GPS to travel to different locations.  For example, in one environment you gather information on a killer.  Then, you have the option to continue along the thread of this killer, or explore another killer’s story arc.  The game itself can be broken down into several types of gameplay mechanics.  At times, you need to sneak up on killers or act inconspicuous.  Other times have you playing minigames to break into houses or interacting with the environment to discover the information you need to follow Dexter’s code.  Minigames also let you match blood spatters, DNA samples, fingerprints, and so on.  Let’s see if an iPhone version of the show can really string together a cohesive gaming experience.

Likes

Detailed environments: Anywhere you go in the game has been faithfully recreated from the television show.  It’s exactly as you’d expect it to be and really impressive to walk around inside.  It added a strong sense of authenticity, which was also created by the full voiceovers from the man behind Dexter: Michael C. Hall.

For the fans: Any fan of the show will find many things to love.  Following the TV episodes, recognizing characters, and making choices as to what Dexter does is all fun.  Elements of Dexter’s character like his dark side appear as a gameplay mechanic.  It makes an interesting balance of keeping up your cover, and feeding your dark side with kills. Conversations branches like from Mass Effect differentiate the type of points you will attribute to your mask or dark side, depending on your responses to others.

Mature: Marc Ecko Entertainment has not backed down on making Dexter a mature title.  There’s full swearing in the game.  You emulate strokes of murder on victims, with their screams following.  It’s nice to see a title that isn’t afraid to go for the mature rating and deliver content for adults.

Dislikes

Slow stalk scenes: Certain parts of the game have you sneaking up on people.  The way the stealth is implemented, however, is very frustrating.  Normally, you can move Dexter around and he’ll jog at a decent pace.  Unfortunately in these situations Dexter is forced to almost tiptoe at a painfully slow rate, no matter how far you push the virtual analog stick.  I felt totally out of control and hindered by the game.  It made any sequence with stealth frustrating.

Buggy: The game’s strong production values were slowly broken down by problems with the game.  I experienced crashing occasionally when changing environments (iPod Touch 2G, OS 3.0), and problems with storyline advancements displaying when they should.  For example, after I had committed to visit a kill room location on my GPS, I was advised that now I had the choice to make on whether to let a victim live or die.  Other times, the blood spatter matching mini-game seemed to not want to match at all.  I had the right weapon, and mimicked the sample perfectly, yet I would still lose.  Overall, the amount of times that I was left frustrated was much more than I’d hope to see.

Dexter fans will have a fun time with this release.  I like the show and was constantly blown away by how well everything was recreated in the game.  The attention to detail from the show makes it a fan service, but only fans will be willing to overlook some of the frustrations found in the game.  If you aren’t a fan of the show, it’s a safe bet skipping this game or waiting until it’s on sale for a better price.

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Dexter The Game was developed by Marc Ecko Entertainment and is available for $5.99. I played the game on an iPod Touch 2G, OS 3.0.  I’m a fan of the series and you may find the review biased in that direction, but I feel the score is fair for newcomers and fans alike.

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