Point and click adventure games have a very special place in my heart. When my family got a Gateway 2000 PC back in the early 90s, one of the first computer games I played was Space Quest IV: Roger Wilco and the Time Rippers. Ever since then, point and clicks have been a consistent part of my gaming library. Naturally, I leapt at the chance to play another sci-fi comedy adventure game. While Dexter Stardust certainly didn’t reinvent the genre, it was certainly an enjoyable experience nonetheless.
“Two-thirds of the jokes in Episode Zero and Episode One revolve around tacos.”
This game was clearly a passion project by a small group of people, led by Jeremy Fryc. As such, a lot of love went into it, and it shows. The game draws a lot on their respective life experiences, on Latin American Culture, and on a lot of LucasArts games. This definitely gives the setting a different feel from things like Space Quest or the television show Futurama. While it certainly draws on a lot of sci-fi parody tropes, the writing and art style definitely stands apart from a lot of other sci-fi parodies. I mean, how many other sci-fi parodies feature a bodega as a prominent location?
Unfortunately, as is often the case with comedy, not all of the humor always lands. Much like many modern adventure games, Dexter Stardust is built around episodes, and the comedy doesn’t stay strong the entire game. As funny and as enjoyable as I found the game, it felt like two-thirds of the jokes in Episodes Zero and One revolve around tacos. The first time, it’s hilarious. After all, who thinks of going for tacos in space? However, by the eighth time, the joke’s a little tired.
“There is none of the whacky Moon Logic that made a lot of the games of my childhood infamous.”
Likewise, in those early stages of the game, the puzzles are not that engaging either. Episode Zero is basically one linear series of “pick up the item, use the item on the next screen” scenarios. While Episode One is a little more complex, it is still on the simplistic side. As a Sierra games veteran, I spent a lot of the early game scratching my head, wondering if the puzzles were as straightforward as they seemed.
Luckily, that starts to change around Episode Two. Puzzles began to extend across multiple locations, and connecting the dots together became incredibly satisfying. The game definitely isn’t hard. There is none of the whacky Moon Logic that made a lot of the games of my childhood infamous. It’s a short, friendly game that took no longer than an afternoon to finish. In fact, the only puzzle I had trouble with was because the font was too small for me to read on the Nintendo Switch in handheld mode. No puzzle is unfair, and the game gives you plenty of information to figure out what you need.
“If you’re just starting to dip your toe into point and click adventure genre, it’s a solid one to start with.”
Likewise, the writing in Dexter Stardust also picks up in Chapter Two. The jokes become less about tacos and more about the characters. There are several moments where the game deliberately and hilariously toys with the fourth wall. Team Dexter, the developers behind the game, is well aware of the tropes in adventure games and is not afraid to poke a little fun at them. The story isn’t a Pulitzer winner, but it certainly became hooked me in right till the very end.
Ultimately, Dexter Stardust doesn’t shake the foundations of gaming and takes a little bit to find its feet. However, when it gets going it transforms into a great game that is definitely worth the low price you pay. If you’re just starting to dip your toe into the point and click adventure genre, it’s a brilliant game to start. Dexter Stardust is a fun ride, and I eagerly await Jeremy Fryc and his team’s next entry in the series.
You can check Dexter Stardust: Adventures in Outer Space out now on Steam.
*Disclaimer: Reviewed on PC, code was provided by the Publisher.