Some iPhone games offer a simplistic getaway for gamers on the move, while others throw everything at you including the kitchen sink. Dexter: The Game manages to combine a lengthy story based on the television program's first season with a slew of mini games, and while some of the tasks are strangely incomprehensible, Dexter's video game debut is a solid overall experience.
At its core, Dexter: The Game is an adventure title. Dexter must contain his murderous urges by killing, but the "code" he uses to judge people forces him to thoroughly examine his victims alleged crimes before acting upon those urges. This means hunting for evidence, examining clues, etc. If Dexter can prove his targets are evil, only then can he help them shuffle off the mortal coil.
But Dexter's complexity doesn't end there. In order to hide his violent side -- referred to as his Dark Passenger -- Dexter must maintain relationships and his job as a blood splatter analyst for the Miami Metro Police Department by appearing normal. In the way Bruce Wayne is the real mask of Batman, Dexter's relationship with his Dark Passenger is an allegory for his social interaction. For this reason, Dexter's good side is aptly named his "Mask."
Dexter can keep his mask firmly in place through a number of in-game tasks. Branching dialog allows him to interact with coworkers and even victims, allowing him to reveal or conceal his Dark Passenger in exchange for vital information or evidence. If Dexter finds his mask slipping he can retire to his lab and grip onto humanity through his work. His lab consists of different forensic tasks, each with their own mini game that help collect evidence for ongoing Metro cases or for his personal "hit list." When enough evidence is found and Dexter has stealthily subdued his victim, players are given a black screen where tracing knife marks delivers the killing blow -- sadly, the original idea of waving the iPhone as a knife was omitted from the game.
Yes, Dexter's world is just full of mini-games like this. Icarus has programmed a quirky way for players to experience almost every little moment of Dexter's day, including the totally mundane. There's even a mini-game players need to complete while eating seafood on a date. Seriously, it's all over the place.
What Icarus Studios has been able to do on the iPhone is impressive. Dexter's game debut arrives with a solid look and mostly impressive voice acting. Actor Michael C. Hall reprises his role as the title character, rerecording dialog from the show's first season. While Hall's line delivery showcases Dexter's dry personality, a lot of the character's flair has been toned down. Perhaps because of how hard Icarus is pushing the portable system, I did experience frequent crashes when loading new areas and certain mini-games.
Whether you're a fan of the show or not, Dexter: The Game offers a good variety coupled with an exciting story. The game achieves a level of maturity rarely seen in iPhone titles, and is worth taking a stab at.
Dexter: The Game ($5.99):
iPhone 3G running OS 3.0 and 3.1 was used for the review of Dexter: The Game Version 1.0.