REVIEW: ‘DPS Only!,’ The Complete Series

Reading Time: 4 minutes

DPS Only!

DPS Only! is published by Tapas, written by Velinxi, art by Velinxi, colors by Dojo and Claire Alacapa, with letters by Gabrielle Luu. Vicky has always longed to be on the center stage. To be playing her favorite game as throngs of fans cheered her name. But that’s not her up on the stage. It’s her brother Virgil. And while she is happy for him and proud, she is a little envious. But could it ever be her up there?

Feeling invisible is never good. When you are part of something that you have a deep passion for but know there are many out there who will not accept you because of who, or what you are. To step into the spotlight anyway can be terrifying. To do so takes bravery and courage. Luckily, such courage can take many forms. As Vicky is about to prove.

DPS Only! is first and foremost an emotional tale about one character’s need to become what she always wanted to be. As the story first introduces us to our protagonist Vicky, she is sitting in the crowd watching her brother play XO as a pro esports player. As he once again triumphs, Vicky is happy for him. But dreams to be on the stage herself. But there is a lot in the way of those dreams. Not the least of which, is Vicky herself.

You see, Vicky and Virgil are on their own. Since things went bad with their father, Virgil has taken care of Vicky. And while he loves his sister, his protective nature has caused him to stifle her. He long ago stopped listening to what she needs, assuming he already knows. And, armed with this often outdated knowledge about his sister, tends to act for the both of them. Needless to say, this makes getting out of her brother’s shadow difficult for Vicky. Though, Vicky hasn’t actually told him about her dreams either.

Like so many people who have grown with an overly controlling authority figure in her life, Vicky tends to be a bit mousy. Making her voice heard is a struggle for her. And it is overcoming this struggle that is one of the key points for DPS Only!.

Writer Velinxi does an amazing job throughout the story’s 30 episode run of letting readers truly understand who Vicky is, as well as the hurdles she has to overcome. And while I struggle to see any way the character could be seen as anything but sympathetic, Velinxi doesn’t shy away from the fact that her protagonist is far from perfect. This is best explored through Vicky’s estranged friend Opal.

In one of DPS Only!’s early scenes, we see Vicky visit a her favorite spot, the Caf-E. A gaming cafe where Vicky lets her passion for playing XO out. Though it comes under a face mask and hoodie to conceal herself and her gender. Because, just like in the real world, girls have their struggles in the gaming scene. But as a couple of boys start talking down about female players, Opal makes her appearance. And she knows how to put these boys in their place.

Opal is everything Vicky isn’t. She is defiant and proud. She doesn’t take crap, and will not allow others to push her around. She often feels like the person Vicky wishes she could be. Standing up and forcing others to recognize her. But that’s not who Vicky is. Happily, Velinxi does an excellent job of never making either character feel like the better person.

Instead of making it feel like Opal is better than Vicky for her strength and outspokenness, Velinxi always manages to simply keep the two feeling different. Not necessarily better or worse than the other. Vicky simply isn’t Opal, and that’s ok. Vicky has her own strengths and talents. And, with the help of her friends, she may just become what she dreams.

As DPS Only!’s story progresses, we see Vicky, along with a couple of her friends, sign up for a regional XO tournament. Just as with the gaming cafe, Vicky dons a disguise to hide from the world, as well as her brother, whose team is also competing. Her struggles to balance her life in secret, and the steps she eventually takes to finally free herself of the weights holding her down, are excellently executed. I rarely feel proud of fictional characters, but as I scrolled through the final chapters of this story there is no other way to say it. I felt so proud of Vicky’s final ending.

The art of DPS Only! only deepens the story’s emotional themes. Every worry, strain and difficulty confronted by Vicky is displayed to the best of Velinxi’s considerable artistic talents. And perhaps what’s most impressive about this emotional delivery is when it happens. Because it’s not just the big moments that deliver these characters, but all the little ones in between as well.

Velinxi’s characters in DPS Only! always feel like they are saying something through their body language. Whether it’s Vicky hunching over, making herself look small, or Virgil projecting himself throughout a room with his shoulders back and chin to the sky, every character feels like they are always saying more than just the words coming out of their mouths are. This consistency of charter goes a long way toward making the themes and character become fully realized through the books run.

The colorwork in DPS Only! does a good job rounding out the story’s art. Good contrasts are utilized to keep things clear, and there are numerous moments throughout the series where scenes are washed in just the right hues to help invoke a particular emotional feel. Lastly, we have the lettering. The letters here deliver the story in a clear and easily followed manner. Thanks to the unique format of digital stories, the vast majority of the text lands outside the art completely. This allows for even less imposition on the art by the lettering.

When all is said and done I cannot praise DPS Only! enough. It delivers a grounded, emotional tale about a sympathetic protagonist who is striving to live her dreams. The character s growth always feels natural, and the story never fails to land on it’s many emotional points. An amazing story, and truly worth the read.

DPS Only! is available now exclusively at Tapas.

 


DPS ONLY!
5

TL;DR

When all is said and done I cannot praise DPS Only! enough. It delivers a grounded, emotional tale about a sympathetic protagonist who is striving to live her dreams. The character s growth always feels natural, and the story never fails to land on it’s many emotional points. An amazing story, and truly worth the read.