Dexter the Game -- video game review
by Danny Gallagher, posted Sep 25th 2009 2:05PM
Fans of TV's Dexter have been clamoring for the release of the video game version for quite awhile, ever since news of the game's development first hits the stands. But just like the show's title character would say, patience and preparation pays off when you're trying to execute the perfect kill.
Dexter the Game would feel like just another run-of-the-mill TV to video game translation if it hit the Xbox Live Arcade or the Playstation Network. But this slice and dice retelling of the Showtime show's first season is special because it's on the iPhone and iPod Touch.
That's right, the touch screen manna from Steve Jobs' heaven now lets you cut up evildoers with a bone saw with the flick of your finger. Now you can fulfill the needs of your own "Dark Passenger" without having to max out your Home Depot card on visqueen and power tools or thin the pet population of your neighbors' backyards.
The game is a mix of strategy, reaction and timing challenges with some surprisingly good emotional elements mixed into it. Some of the mini-games intertwined with the game range from fun to downright frustrating and the experience doesn't last as long as you hoped it would, but it has a great deal of replay for a game that has the potential to stack up a bigger body count than Sledge Hammer's internal affairs file.
You, of course, play as the title character going through the motions of the first season as he stakes his various preys while juggling the demands of a forensics blood spatter analyst for Miami Metro. The show fills in the time lapse gaps in the actual show by devised challenges that set up the original plot lines from digging up the prey of Dexter's prey to setting up the kill room. The game also requires the player to keep Dexter on his toes at his day job analyzing blood patterns, matching DNA samples and lining up fingerprints to cement suspects' guilt on his prey's cases and the department's other caseloads.
The game awards points for keeping up Dexter's "mask" and feeding the needs of his "dark passenger" throughout the course of the game, which means you can play the whole thing over again for a better score when you beat it. You will beat the game rather quickly. It ends on a very hungry plot point that will make non-watchers of the show rush to their Netflix account to find out what happens next. A game of this caliber must take up a lot of memory, so either Marc Ecko and company are breaking the game into chunks or waiting to see how hungry you'll get for the rest.
The controls range from good to worse. You have two options: either use the touch screen joypad to move Dexter around or use the motionometer (or whatever technical term Apple has for moving the iPhone around to move the screen). The joypad takes some getting used to but doesn't take long to learn while the motion sensitive controls are a giant pain. Go with the first and use the second option when you've maxed out the game's difficulty levels.
The game itself is as additively fun as Dexter's twisted version of "Operation." You do everything sneak up on Dexter's various kills to proving their guilt and then, of course, doing the deed by mimicking patterns on the screen, depending on which kill tool you use. Some of the motion games have a hard learning curve and for such simple tasks such as scaling a fence or matching a blood spatter pattern in the lab. Once you get over that large obstacle, the rest of the game falls into place and eventually something comes along that's fun.
[Catch clips of Dexter over at SlashControl.]