The Rare Feeling of Something New But Phenomenal.
In a world of so many remakes and spinoffs, it’s a blessing to experience something wholly new.
Game FAQs Ranking: #21/100
A quick look at the top movies of 2018 showed multiple retreads of Marvel comic storylines, a Mission: Impossible relaunch, a sequel to The Incredibles. and remake of A Star is Born.
Where the hell is anything new? Part of the problem is how we consume media. Big companies cannot sustain a bomb, so those who are able to take risks are the indie communities in each sector. But, big media is who has reach, so the only things we share on a societal level are the better safe than sorry projects.
After laying dormant since 2003, Edios/Square Enix decided to give the Deus Ex franchise another go. It must have been risky; unlike Final Fantasy, there was no big fan base to fall back on. It worked emphatically.
Deus Ex: Human Revolution has no tropes for the player because there is nothing for them to reference. What you find is an immersive world and addictive game play with its own set of rules and interactions. Finally, a chance to go completely into the unknown!
Adam Jensen is the head of security for a privately held company called Sarif Industries that produces augmentations for humans. These augmentations give humans near super hero abilities and are heralded as the solution for everything that ails us; disease, injuries, and pathology are thing of the past.
On the eve of the company unveiling a new product, the facility is stormed by mercenaries and the R&D team killed mercilessly. Adam Jensen is mortally wounded, but with the help of augmentations, is saved with implantations of new legs, eyes, lungs, and more. Using his new abilities, he helps David Sarif, owner of the aforementioned company, solve who did them dirty.
There are many possible fractions: is it the leader of Humanity Front, an anti-augmentation group? Or maybe Tai Young Medical, Sarif’s biggest competitor in the augmentation industry? Maybe even FEMA was involved indicating a possible government conspiracy?
In the end, Jensen learns that everyone is out for themselves, and he’s somehow in the middle of the very mystery he’s trying to solve.
The game is mixture of stealth/combat with RPG elements in a not-so-distant future. There are some key points that makes it work so well.
Function and Environment.
Not only is the world immersive, it directly ties into your game play. Stealing a page out of Metal Gear Solid, Adam Jensen bobs and weaves between enemies only encountering them to neutralize them without detection. It is much easier to survive Deus Ex playing stealth than going guns blazing: it only takes a few hits to die.
Where the formula changes is the augmentation system. There are several abilities that allow you to interact with the environment different thus giving you different tactical advantages.
One of them is being able to punch through walls. This immediately opens up new path ways in select corridors allowing you to circumvent particularly tricky spots. Another is parachute: instead of dying when falling ~3 feet (one of the only negatives of the game), you can live jumping off story-high buildings. Instead of being boxed in by height, this new ability allows you to see your environment differently and use it appropriately.
Deus Ex’s setting would have been woefully bland if it did not try and ask a few very hard questions about humanity.
The backdrop of the entire game is the ability to be augmented. While augmentations allow people to accomplish amazing feats, it is just as likely to give people a god complex. There is no guarantee that someone uses the augmentations for good (which there are many demonstrations of in the game) and people who refuse to get upgraded become second-class citizens due to not remaining competitive in the market place.
People have to answer the very tough question of keeping up with the times by adopting technology we do not fully understand. It’s quite a challenging back and forth with no correct answer, and the game leaves the ultimate conclusion for the player to decide.
The Story Matters.
I’m always interested in the story telling aspect of everything I review. I know video games can be just junk food for the mind, but there are times it transcends to some sort of high art.
Interviewing Michelle Walthers hits you right in the feels. An important character who fills in the backstory, Jensen finds her alone in her apartment. He is trying to figure out more about his life. Hitherto, Jensen really doesn’t know much about his past, but Michelle does.
Unfortunately, she suffers from dementia.
What unfolds is a desperate man working with an incapable witness. We want so bad for Michelle to remember so she can tell us more, but her bits and pieces are all we can get. Jensen, even in a moment of extreme importance, never loses grace or patience with her. It is a sweet unfolding between the two: clearly she shared some affinity for Jensen, but it’s lost to the waves of time.
The game pulls off a grand balancing act. What could have turned into an ugly depiction instead becomes a bitter sweet reminder of our own fragility.
The sequels and remakes have since found its way to Deus Ex: Human Revolution, but it was a new world to me and one very worth exploring.
Other People’s Takes:
- In Third Person: “When the game is hitting its stride like that, it’s one of the slickest, and most engaging experiences I’ve played in awhile.”
- Tale Keeper: “Overall, this is a solid game that I had very few problems with.”
- Particle Bit: “Deus Ex: Human Revolution does a lot right. The game gives great breadth in choosing a playstyle, without tunneling players into any optimal builds.”