When Square Enix first announced Deus Ex: Mankind Divided, I was so excited I went back to play Human Revolution, in one of my first few Let’s Plays on The Mental Attic’s YouTube channel, deciding to play it with a nice guy Adam Jensen and being as stealthy and non-lethal as possible.
Then Deus Ex: Mankind Divided released to divisive reviews, but I couldn’t play it yet. I mean, I bought it but with the gaming laptop unable to play the game properly it at times felt like stop motion animation, so I couldn’t enjoy it fully.
But now, with the new computer here and having completed Mankind Divided I am conflicted about it.
Don’t read ahead if you don’t want spoilers for Deus Ex: Mankind Divided
It’s a great game, mechanically speaking. It’s more of what made Deus Ex: Human Revolution so great in the first place—sans that beautiful and now iconic black & gold aesthetic, though I get why it’s gone—just refined and built upon.
The new augments are great, they really change the way you play and give you much cooler options, though the time it takes before you can use them fully without drawbacks is a bit too long to be honest, but I can’t ever go back to not having remote hacking of cameras, turrets and robots. Hell, turning off lasers and mines without having to crawl near them is such a blessing, man.
Hell, even the Titan armour augment, which I rarely used since I played stealth was just fantastic and made me feel like an instant badass walking right up to the firing turret—when and if they saw me—pick it up and throw it across the room.
Though to be honest the best moment for with one such mounted weapon was to approach from behind, pick it up, take it to an isolated room and close the door behind it, leaving it staring at a wall. It was fantastic.
But then you came to the story and before I played Deus Ex: Mankind Divided I had no idea this was the middle game in a trilogy. Hell, I still don’t, it might be the first game in the trilogy or there might not be a new part in the future. After Advent Rising, I stopped believing in big trilogy plans for games, since it’s sales and reception that drives them. Sure, Deus Ex: Mankind Divided had amazing sales as far as I know, but with the mixed reception, who know what’ll happen.
If it is part of a trilogy, and independent of it being the first game or the middle one, then Deus Ex: Mankind Divided makes some terrible mistakes with its thriller storytelling by not giving away any answers. And no, knowing about Bob Page and Joseph Manderley is not a revelation, because we know of them since the first Deus Ex released over 16 years ago.
A conspiracy thriller split into multiple parts hinges on the balance of questions and answers. At the end of each major chapter, you should have new questions but also have some significant answers that make the journey worthwhile.
And that’s where Deus Ex: Mankind Divided falls short. What answers you get are mere morsels, scraps of information that you already guessed along the way, but there aren’t any major revelations about the villains, the allies or where all the plans are going. You don’t get closer to Page and Manderley, you don’t find out who Janus is, you have no real answers about Adam’s amnesia and missing time and no, that little scene mid-credits isn’t enough, since we all saw that one coming. Hell, I took the final boss down non-lethal and never got to hear his interrogation, never had the chance to flip him against them. Didn’t even learn of their other plans, because let’s face it, they always have secondary ploys moving along.
Deus Ex: Mankind Divided also fails in giving you things to care about. In Deus Ex: Human Revolution, despite how stoic and emotionless Adam comes across, he is emotionally invested in everything that’s going on. He cares about the people in the company, he and the pilot Malik not only have great chemistry but they’re friends, even more after the Shanghai Justice quest and if you fail to save her like I did, it hurts. When you finally find Megan it has emotional impact, and hell, the entire quest is about her.
And when you do rescue the ‘damsel’ she reveals a major plot point and so does Hugh Darrow when you confront him. He reveals the Illuminaty in a prequel that had largely nothing to do with them. He brings them back into the Deus Ex picture and creates a solid link between the prequel series and the original game. It’s good stuff.
Deus Ex: Mankind Divided has a cast a likeable characters, but Adam never really shows he cares for them, keeping himself distant from them. As much as I like Alex Vega in Mankind Divided, there is no relationship between them, barely a friendship. It’s all about business and it’s disappointing.
I don’t mean to say make her a love interest, but at least show the characters hanging out once in a while, grab a beer or something.
When I finished Deus Ex: Mankind Divided, it felt like the end of a prologue of a much larger game, as if it had given me only a glimpse of its wider world and the powers at play, cutting things short before it even revealed anything meaningful.
And that’s something I hope the next game does better. Hell, I’ll take an expansion on this game first if they want, something to add more meat to the story, to make the ending feel less abrupt. Because that’s the major issue right there, the game ends too quickly, too sudden and only when things were getting truly interesting. And I don’t mean the DLC that don’t really add anything to the plot.
On a final note, I want to praise the developers of Deus Ex: Mankind Divided for the last mission in the game, where it seems like a binary choice but turns out you can do both missions if you’re fast enough and I certainly was!
You know, I think this game deserves a new Let’s Play, what do you think?