Hey everybody! It’s Ramblings time! And this week I’m finally able to deliver that Deus Ex: Mankind Divided review. It’s been a few weeks in the making, so I hope it does the game justice.
Deus Ex: Mankind Divided is the sequel set two years after Deus Ex: Human Revolution. I’m not entirely sure how many years before the original Deus Ex it’s set. Speaking of the original Deus Ex, I honestly wonder if a remake is in the works once this prequel series starring Adam Jensen is done. I think it would be pretty neat having the original story retold with modern gameplay and graphics, but purists might get upset.
Anyway, Mankind Divided. Like I said, it’s set two years after Human Revolution. The canon ending to HR is left ambiguous. The developers said that, regardless of the ending you chose at the end, Panchaea sunk into the ocean, and that the media (which is almost exclusively Picus News) covered up the truth of the events there to the point that no one other than the ones directly involved know what really happened. So that’s a somewhat convenient way to deal with multiple endings.
Speaking of endings, and I hope this isn’t too much of a spoiler, but Mankind Divided doesn’t really have much of an ending. It’s a cliffhanger, mostly, and most of it is Picus News and their anchor Eliza Cassan covering the fallout of the missions you did throughout the game. Most, if not all side-missions are completely optional, but there are some that make things a lot easier on yourself if you do them.
The game mostly takes place in Prague in the Czech Republic, which serves as the hub city. There are two main sections of Prague, with one of the sections divided into three districts. There are a few other areas besides Prague, one of which is Dubai, which is where you start the game for the prologue. The other areas I won’t spoil.
Mankind Divided has some nice easter eggs, as well. One of which I’ll spoil, and that’s the Companion Cube from Portal. I won’t tell you where to find it, though. That’s on you. There’s another one I know of, but I didn’t find it myself. Pretty much all easter eggs are spoiled by the game’s credits, anyway, as they had to say who owns each property they snuck in there, and what it is.
Speaking of the game’s credits, when you watch the credits after beating the game, make sure you stick around for a mid-credits scene. It really helps set up the next game, as well as drops a pretty major plot twist. That I won’t spoil, no matter what.
So how is the plot? It’s pretty good. Full of intrigue and whatnot. It’s got plenty of the typical Deus Ex conspiracies involving The Illuminati and all that stuff. For some reason I like games with conspiracies (such as the Metal Gear Solid series), but I can’t take real life conspiracy theories seriously. Funny how that is. Anyway, talking too much about the plot of Mankind Divided risks spoiling it, so I’ll just say it’s rather good and leave it at that.
The gameplay is really good, too. They changed the default control scheme again for this one, so it may take some getting used to if you’re too used to Human Revolution, but it works well enough. You start off with most, if not all your base augmentations in the prologue, sort of to give you a taste of what’s available. Then there’s a major plot point right at the start of the first act that robs you of almost all your abilities, as well as “wakes up” more dormant abilities Adam didn’t know he had. It works as a way to explain why the hero, who was fully powered by the end of the previous game, has lost all his abilities and has to start anew.
The sound works well. Voice acting is quite good. Music does its thing. Graphics look really nice. Gone is the gold and black aesthetic of the last game. In its place is, well, nothing. No filter, just the graphics and natural colors. It looks a lot better and more realistic, in my opinion. While I respect the stylistic choice of the gold and black from Human Revolution, it kind of looked forced. Not natural. Kind of how the white and red aesthetic of Mirror’s Edge looks unnatural.
If I had to make complaints, and I kind of have to, it’s that the game probably could have used some more quality assurance testing. As I documented on Twitter and in this column, I ran into a bug in Mission 14 where the game would crash during the load screen to the next area. There are only 17 main story missions in the game, and you can only do 16 of them in a single play-through. So I was right there near the end when this bug happened.
Usually I’m lucky enough not to have these game-breaking bugs happen. This time my luck ran out. Another minor complaint is that the game seems a tad on the short side. Maybe that’s because so much of it takes place in Prague, but it seems shorter than Human Revolution. And with the cliffhanger ending, it makes me wonder if they took some of what was supposed to be in Mankind Divided and decided to hold it off until the eventual sequel. Of course, that would have been done very early in development, but why not add some extra stuff to pad the story a bit?
All in all, it’s a good game. Not the greatest, but not bad, either. It certainly deserves its place in the Deus Ex series, and fans of the series who liked Human Revolution will probably really enjoy Mankind Divided. If you’re not a fan of the series, or you haven’t played Human Revolution, and you want to play this game, I’d advice you either play HR first, or read a wiki to catch up on the lore of the universe.
As always, you can find me on Twitter at @vgramblings. See you all next time.