The year is 2029. Two years have passed since Deus Ex: Human Revolution‘s Aug Incident at Panchaea. The world has changed, the people have changed. Outcasts in a world that once embraced the scientific renaissance they represented, augmented people are now met with disgust and bigotry — or worse, beaten in the streets and sometimes killed for who they are. With the world gripping their triggers closely, the United Nations is looking for ways to stop the violence and end the tension when all hell breaks loose.
The stage is set for Deus Ex: Mankind Divided.
No stranger to worldwide conspiracies, Adam Jensen — as much as he didn’t ask for them — is no longer the head of security at the defunct Sarif Industries. He’s grown into the role of an experienced covert operative living in Europe. Now with a terrorist attack seemingly committed by Augs, Jensen is thrown back into the fray of a gripping worldwide conspiracy.
For those of you who missed Deux Ex: Human Revolution, don’t worry: the game begins with the option to enjoy a quick twelve-minute summary of the previous game. As a fan, I couldn’t pass this up. I wanted to see what was summed up for newcomers and I wasn’t disappointed; it was fantastic!
Deus Ex: Mankind Divided takes place two years after the Aug Incident of 2027, when augmented people were unwillingly driven to violent killing sprees via a biochip created by the Illuminati. Thanks to Jensen’s quick actions, a kill switch was activated before the world could fall into total chaos. People are now afraid of Augs more than ever, with tensions at an all-time high and seemingly at the breaking point. This is our where our boy Jensen comes in.
Jensen, as we know from our experience in Human Revolution, is attracted to trouble. After an incident in Prague, Jensen, now an agent for Interpol as part an anti-terror group fighting Aug terrorists known as Task Force 29, finds himself back at the front line of the action
After joining TF29 I was immediately thrown back to my feelings of being in Detroit. It felt like home, except it wasn’t the same yellow and grey contrast. Walking through the chaos of the floor, I overheard an agent embedded in an Aug terrorist group and witnessed the tense situation as it reached its grim end. This is what I love about Deus Ex: you could walk anywhere in the game and be met with a story whether through eavesdropping on people talking about current events or yourself. And this was just the home base.
In Mankind Divided, Jensen’s goal is to unravel a global conspiracy introduced quite early in the game. It will, of course, have you guessing about what’s real, who to trust, and “Should I do this mission/side quest?” the whole damn time. Through the main story missions, you’ll travel to new and beautifully designed parts of the world, like the aforementioned Prague or Golem City, which I’ll focus on here as I don’t want to spoil a thing.
When traveling to these locations, I felt that the team at Eidos Montreal truly captured what it feels to be in an Aug’s shoes and the brutality of their world. Golem City, for instance, sets a very dark and sombre tone of helplessness; I was met with aggression, and discrimination.
But I have to take a moment to acknowledge the art and music design here as well, because it could not have been any better. With the way the stage was set by the music and atmosphere in each location, I knew this game was, yet again, going to be a masterpiece. Each location had me go, “Wow, this is Deus Ex.” It was truly breathtaking to see how the Dawn Engine could change how I saw Deus Ex: Mankind Divided.
Even as each location furthers the central plot and brings more things to light for Jensen, the game made me feel isolated and alone. Unlike Deus Ex: Human Revolution, I didn’t feel like I had friends in my ear like Frank Pritchard and Faridah. Even though there were side characters to build the story around you, I didn’t have the same relationship with these new people. There was a tangible sense of distrust early on that made it hard not to feel like Jensen was alone. The supporting cast of characters really did a fantastic job of driving this feeling home; even when they were being a friend, you could feel Jensen’s loneliness.
Like any Deus Ex title, there are no shortage of side missions that force you to make hard decisions and it’s what makes every Deus Ex game great. They change the game completely and help form a unique experience that each of us will have. Similar to Human Revolution, a person may ask you to help them find an item, a friend, an enemy, or something else along those lines. These aren’t without purpose, so keep an eye out for them and I highly recommend you pay attention to finishing them. I neglected to do one and I paid a dear price.
Like Human Revolution, each mission has several paths to completing it that allow for different styles of play and, of course, several possible outcomes that will tie into the grand story of Deus Ex and slowly reveal the truth to the player.
If that wasn’t enough on your plate, you now have a whole new armament of augmentations, and damn, these abilities are really dope. There’s something for everyone, and if you’re like me, you’ll probably be all about the nano-blades, so I won’t go into their details as I want to let you have your own moment with them.
What I will say is, there is an unreal stealth tool — if you’re playing aggressive. I was also a huge fan of the glass shield, it helped when I needed quick cover or needed a distraction to duck into a vent. The ability to expand your bio-cell battery for more augmented powers really helped as well, especially when you’re sneaking in plain sight, so you can launch a nano-blade to pin someone to a wall… stealthily.
But would it be a Deus Ex game without critical decisions? I am grateful I got on board with the C.A.S.I.E. implant or Social Enhancer. This is a must augmentation for everyone. During conversations with allies and enemies, the augment will help gauge how the conversation is going and allow you to take unique approaches to finding the info you need. Do you just straight up tell someone off in classic Jensen fashion? Do you appeal to their feelings and woo them over for information? The bottom line is this is Deus Ex and it always comes down to your choices: what you and I do may be completely different and it makes this game beautiful.
You probably won’t have the same experience as me. Even though we will have both started at the same point, our decisions will form and shape the game for us. This is Deus Ex storytelling to the core, where all your choices and decisions form the story around you. Did you help that Aug in need on the street? Did you kill that one guy or did you let him live? It all matters, every little detail. The ending I got will be completely different from you based on all of these variables.
When I was engaged in combat, it felt so different from Human Revolution. It was if my enemy was smarter and more organized. The game will test your mettle and force you to be a tactician under pressure. Do you go down the hall, guns blazing, or do you hide around the corner and launch a nano-blade explosive? Traditionally, the majority of players and friends I have talked to tend to go no-kill, or somehow by some freak magic avoid all contact. I found this insanely hard in this game; it felt like Human Revolution had training wheels compared to this, and being more stealthy was way harder. I almost got discovered immediately — that was until I unlocked some augmentations.
When you do get into combat you’ll have a few choices — and sorry, this ain’t for you pacifists out there. I found that the enemy was well-coordinated and smart, as though they were actually trying to flank me or used specialized ammo against me. This was another great added challenge and I know a lot of you will appreciate this.
I love that I could take the time to explore more in this game as well, as there is so much more to discover. When I was in Detroit or Hengsha, I felt I could only listen in on so many conversations and see just so many things. I found a ton of Easter eggs in Jensen’s apartment, and just walking the streets of Prague, the city streets tell you a bigger story — a different side of the story of how these Augs lives are and how they are treated. I found it to be more dark and isolated; the more I dug, the more I found and the more the story of Jensen after the events of Human Revolution became clear.
I’ll leave you to your own treasure-hunting, as aside from all the quests of the game, this truly shows Jensen’s off-screen character growth.
In closing, if you’re a fan of stealth tactics, brutal decision-making, a challenging test of your skills, and you absolutely loved the previous game, this is an absolute must-buy. This game won’t be for everyone: it is not a traditional shooter, so running and gunning and CoD-ing will not help you in confrontations — if anything, it detriments you.
The game is perfectly balanced with an amazing musical score, writing, acting, and the gameplay is what I was looking and expecting in a tactical stealth game. I had little to no issues with this game, and while it was difficult at parts, that is to be expected.
We usually don’t do numerical ratings for games here at AYBOnline, however I feel this warrants the special attention. Eidos Montreal delivers again, Deus Ex: Mankind Divided is another masterpiece. Based on story, gameplay and mechanics, music, and atmosphere, I’d give this game a solid 9.5/10.
For those of you curious, I ran the game on a Processor Intel i5-3570K , with a NVIDIA GeForce GTX 760. I was able to run the game on high and still experience the game’s beauty with no issues.
Steve Noel is the Deputy Editor, he definitely asked for this.