Title: Deus Ex: Mankind Divided
Where To Buy: PSN Store, Xbox Store, Steam, Local Retailer
As I embrace my inhuman strength and lift a hefty dumpster no regular human would be able to, I strategically place it below an open window and exercise my bionic legs to scale a two story building. Proceeding triumphantly, I infiltrate an abandoned apartment feeling like a master criminal. Glancing around the ransacked room with my smart vision, I discover a hidden vent looming behind a fridge. The duct leads to a garage locked by a keypad I could have hacked previously. Both routes would have achieved identical results but I had the ability to choose my path and Deus Ex: Mankind Divided, throughout the entire adventure, continues to offer this beautiful freedom.
Deus Ex: Mankind Divided takes place two years after the events of Human Revolution. Adam Jensen, our augmented protagonist, returns having survived the aftermath of ‘The Incident’. Having left his position as head of security for Sarif Industries, Jensen is now an Interpol agent working with Task Force 29 . Although I wholly enjoyed Human Revolution, I found myself struggling to recall the past experience. Thankfully a twelve-minute recap is included to reacquaint you with not only the lore but the finale which was decided upon for Mankind Divided to continue.
Since the conclusion of Human Revolution, the objection to human augmentations has only increased. What was a heated debate in the previous outing has intensified after ‘The Incident’. Another terrorist attack which occurs early on is blamed on the bionic masses, adding fuel to the already harsh fire. A once peaceful city within the Czech Republic is now heavily occupied by armed guards erecting checkpoints at each subway station. Jensen possesses the necessary documents to bypass these checks but not without the police exclaiming their disgust towards Augs… Others are not so fortunate.
The central narrative revolves around finding those responsible for the terrorist bombing. Whereas the majority of the population feel it is the work of bionics and ARC (Augmented Rights Coalition), Jensen senses a more sinister motive. Upon exploring Prague and traveling to other locales such as Switzerland and London, the true culprits and their rationale becomes clearer. As is the ethos of Deus Ex, you decide how to approach the excursions and these decisions ultimately lead to multiple endings for the player.
For a science fiction story, it is surprisingly relatable to current affairs. Victimization, segregation, and conflicting beliefs are topics which are dominating current headlines and these themes create the tense world of Deus Ex: Mankind Divided. Are all Augs the same and if so, should they be held accountable for the actions of a minority group? Why have people adopted bionic enhancements and when are these implants acceptable? The ideology intrigued me and playing as a character who if fully invested in this debate puts you at the center of the controversy.
Aside from the freedom to make narrative choices, Deus Ex: Mankind Divided excels with its gameplay variety. From the first conversation in the game, you begin to mold your repertoire. Deciding upon the tactic to infiltrate a facility, you are given the appropriate equipment to coincide with this. Being a non-lethal, stealthier player, I found myself equipped with a silenced tranquilizer rifle which was adequate for the task ahead.
The creative freedom is far more inventive than the weapon of choice, however. As was the case with entering the vacated apartment, every objective has multiple ‘routes’. An early in game mission finds Jensen’s path being blocked by a crooked cop. Passing through this barricade would have resulted in bloodshed, which is a viable option, but I backed away and pondered my approach. To my right, I spotted a manhole leading into the sewers whereas above me a window had been left ajar. Perhaps I should pay the toll as the devious official had demanded? I ultimately investigated the ‘toll’ charge which then evolved into a whole new side mission.
When you regain control of your augmented abilities and discover some new, hidden ones, Deus Ex: Mankind Divided can become slightly overwhelming. Gaining experience from remaining hidden and pacifying or slaughtering enemies; you are granted Praxis Kits (which can also controversially be purchased). These can be redeemed for new or upgraded abilities. Early on, with so many appealing skills available to you, I found myself in a dilemma. Should I upgrade my vision to detect secrets? Upgrade my hacking skills to bypass security terminals? All seemed useful but it felt torturous to commit to one knowing that there was no reset button.
This daunting feeling extends to Prague too. Aside from the core story related excursions, you will spend your free time exploring apartments, sewers, shops and even an entire bank. The bank contains a huge reception area, executive vaults, and offices; all ripe to be explored. I spent a few hours just gradually delving deeper through security. Unlocking a door with my hacking abilities opened a new area with multiple opportunities to continue my adventure. Intentionally setting off alarms to distract guards or hacking into computers, assuming the identity of officials to gain Intel from unsuspecting employees; the rewarding and well-structured environments appeased my curiosity.
This freedom to explore did conflict with the completionist within me. The entire area is available to explore from the beginning and the plethora of buildings to investigate can make you feel as though you are missing something. Over the course of Deus Ex: Mankind Divided, you will return to Prague three times with the situation changing each visit. Side quests, which are scarce yet deep and varied, can be entirely missed. This is troublesome as the side missions, particularly notable ones such as a murder mystery are just as, if not more so, more intriguing than the main narrative. The prospect of missing these had me cautiously proceeding through the game.
Whether you are exploring, hunting criminals or snooping; you have two main courses of action, stealth or assault. Deus Ex: Mankind Divided feels more at home as a stealth, exploration game but for the more direct players, the game will cater to you. New abilities such as a body shield or being able to launch Nanoblades will make Jensen a force to be reckoned with. Gunplay feels solid but avoiding combat suits the controls better. Taking cover is simple and the streamlined system allows you to quickly move between obstacles with the press of a button. Hacking cameras remotely, lifting heavy objects or using an invisibility cloak feel empowering whilst limited as they consume energy. This covertness was possible in Human Revolution yet the linear boss fights contradicted this. Thankfully they have been removed, as the entire game can be completed without killing anyone (even bosses), which I managed to achieve on my first, methodical playthrough.
The other huge improvement upon the previous title is the color pallet. Whereas Human Revolution relied on atmospheric shadows and a gold hue, Mankind Divided feels far more grounded with a wider spectrum and diverse locations. Graphically the game looks great, Jensen in particular is extremely well detailed with rain droplets running off of his prosthetic arms in the stormy weather. Unfortunately, other NPC’s do not have the same attention to detail with bland faces and off-putting lip syncing which took me out of the immersion.
The term freedom is thrown around a lot in the gaming industry yet the original Deus Ex embodied that term. Mankind Divided takes this philosophy further, offering a level of freedom unseen in other games. Mankind Divided is an incredibly well-constructed playground and although the game leads to many set points, how you get there has been beautifully accommodated for. The first few hours may feel slightly overwhelming but once you begin to explore, you will be dutifully rewarded.
- Gameplay: Creative, Adapts To Play Style
- Graphics: Jensen And City Look Good, NPC’s Can Be Bland
- Sound: Great Voice Work, Synth Music
- Presentation: Intricately Designed Environments To Explore
- Exciting Abilities
- Relevant Story
- Interesting Side Missions
- Character Models