Impressions: Dexter Stardust

*Note* I received a review copy of this game.

Dexter Stardust is a recent indie game from Dexter Team in association with Flynn’s Arcade. It is a point and click adventure that harkens back to the old-school point and clicks and has, as they put it, “Saturday Morning Cartoon” vibes. The first season is broken down into 4 episodes with an extra, short tutorial episode. If you have followed the blog, you probably know I am a sucker for point and clicks, so I was excited to give the game a go.

In the game, you play Dexter Stardust, a space delivery man who works for his “uncle” – father’s good friend who got the title of uncle although not actually – and is partnered with Aurora. While going on adventures, Dexter uncovers a larger story connecting back to robots who had actually destroyed all life on Earth twenty years ago. Dexter must uncover the mystery and why it seems the robots are so interested in him.

Each episode adds a bit to the larger story while having its own overarching plotline. The first, you are just doing a normal delivery when you start to run into other characters connected to the larger plot as a case in point. The four play out rather nicely and create a good story while still managing to be standalone. While the developers compare it to Saturday Morning Cartoons, which is apt, I would put them more in with Gargoyles or Gravity Falls. Still morning cartoon feeling but with a larger thread connecting them and a great mystery to uncover.

Because of its inspiration from old-school point and clicks, not just storytelling but humor is a large part of the game. Some of it really hits for me, some of it is more flat. The repetitive jokes about tacos got old a little quickly, although I got what they were going for. Conversely, there are a lot of in-jokes that made me chuckle and even actually laugh out loud. Dexter also reminds me a lot of Guybrush Threepwood from Monkey Island in the best possible ways. He has the self-aware at times but bumbling at others characteristics and a good heart despite being a goofball who is often in over his head.

There are also direct callbacks to games like Monkey Island. Such as a wanted poster for Guybrush and even a puzzle that involves taking spicy liquid from a restaurant to use on prison bars. Despite all of these callbacks and such, the game never feels like a rip-off. Things like the puzzles that felt familiar feel more like homages, and are different enough that you aren’t repeating the same actions, just somewhat similar. Not only that, but while I see the Guybrush/Dexter similarities, they are also different. Dexter has his own unique story, struggles, and while he often responds like how I imagine Guybrush would, if in the same game with his writers, it’s not always identical. Again it’s enough I see the homage and get a similar feeling without feeling like Dexter is just Monkey Island reskinned by a different studio.

As for the puzzles… I am mostly on board with them. Few are based in Moon Logic, and because the episodes are contained, it makes the game slightly “smaller” but in a good way. Point and Clicks can suffer from the issue of having too many options and places to go, and you can get lost and wander. This happens a bit in this game, especially in the longer episodes, but it could be a lot worse. That being said, there were still times when puzzles didn’t play out in the most intuitive way. A few times, I knew what I was meant to do, but the way I was trying was just not the way the game wanted me to do it, which is fine, but the way the game did want it done didn’t always make sense. It’s not enough that it killed the experience, but it was noticeable. Still, point and clicks can get downright infuriating, so even a few hiccups are fine in comparison to what others can be like.

The voice acting, art, and music are all pretty solid and fit the overall experience. The only problem… and I am not even sure I consider it a problem, is that it feels less polished than a studio game for sure. Again I hesitate with the word problem; it’s not bad, not even close, it is just an aspect of the game and one you will notice. Also, some of the art and character choices gave me pause… not enough that I am going to soapbox, but…

So bottom line? I found this to be an enjoyable adventure. It spoke to me in a nostalgic way without feeling like that was all it had to offer. It’s not my favorite modern point and click, and not because of anything it did wrong, just I had a little issue getting into it as much as I felt I probably should. Again this is not a reflection of the game, that’s just the way it goes. I found it to be an enjoyable experience and pretty accessible for people with different experience levels with point and clicks. If you like the genre, I would recommend it. If you like space adventures with 90s vibes, I would also say give it a go, even if point and clicks aren’t your favorite, this one just might grab you.

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