Deus Ex_ Mankind Divided™_20160828181241

Deus Ex: Human Revolution wasn’t exactly a polished piece of digital art. It had visual glitches galore, the controls could be a pain at times and the less said about those boss fights the better. But if you had to look beyond that, you’d find yourself jamming an undeniably ballsy title that not only tied in perfectly to the history of the original Deus Ex games, it reinvented their history with a prequel that refined a global conspiracy with utterly breath-taking Renaissance-inspired cyberpunk art direction.

Five years later, and series star Adam Jensen is once again forced into a game of cat and mouse on a worldwide scale that he didn’t ask for. In many ways, Deus Ex: Mankind Divided makes up for the shortcomings of its predecessors, opting to create a leaner yet still engaging experience that is very much still feeling the ramifications of Human Revolution’s massive third act.

Deus Ex_ Mankind Divided™_20160826165051

It’s just a pity that it just never goes far enough with some of its heavy political ideas, while making a few missteps along the way as well.

Deus Ex_ Mankind Divided™_20160826155050

It’s been two years since “The Incident”, an event that isn’t referring to one of the oddest Mitchell and Webb sketches ever devised. The world is still devastated after an event where every augmented human turned into a raving and psychotic embodiment of the YouTube comments sections on a video about feminism, and there’s a healthy distrust circulating around the globe for Augs, clanks or various other oddly derogatory terms for people who have replaced a few limbs with a shiny piece of mechanical engineering at its finest.

So much so in fact, that most of the planet has conveniently forgotten just how much of a blinding human rights cock-up Apartheid was in South Africa and decided to start all-new forms of segregation for the mechanically-advanced lest another Incident occur. Deus Ex: Mankind Divided drives that idea home hard and fast. Everywhere you go in Prague, you’ll find trigger-happy cops and checkpoints as the aug population is harassed or corralled to go live out the remainder of their lives in makeshift cities for them.

Deus Ex_ Mankind Divided™_20160826155027

It’s very much on the nose, with Jensen himself regularly stopped by hostile law enforcers and forced to show his papers or risk deportation. In a way it works. Seeing blatant human rights abuses and being told to stay away from the norms is a very sobering experience, especially when you’re old enough to remember living in a country where this very sort of thing actually happened.

At the same time, Deus Ex: Mankind Divided is only paying lip service to its mechanical Apartheid marketing. Jensen has an attitude that would get anyone of a darker skin tone shot if they dared tried mouthing off to the cops, with the player feeling more slightly annoyed than genuinely outraged at being treated like a third-class living organism with minimal rights. It’s more a mild annoyance than the genuine subjugation of Apartheid. You could call it wired privilege.

Deus Ex_ Mankind Divided™_20160825154202

Now to be fair, taking things a step further would have the effort of derailing gameplay somewhat. But for a game that is so overtly political as Deus Ex: Mankind Divided, focusing on politics that don’t involve the by now clichéd Middle East wars, it feels like a missed opportunity. To take an idea like Apartheid, South Africa’s greatest sin and something that we as a nation are still healing from and failing at ourselves, and throwing an indifferent protagonist into the mix where consequences are all but an afterthought, feels more like a gimmick than a compelling piece of parallel history.

On the plus side, the rest of Deus Ex: Mankind Divided’s narrative is utterly superb.

Deus Ex_ Mankind Divided™_20160825153354

Jensen may have less emotion than the 2014 reboot of Robocop, but his isolation at least juxtaposes itself brilliantly in an ocean of fascinating side missions, colourful characters and a plot that borrows heavily from the greatest conspiracy theories of the last century. It’s all building up towards the eventual rise of JC Denton and the first Deus Ex, offering hard choices as you make your way through Prague and various other world locations. Mind you, the end result reeks of an anti-climatic finish, but the overall theme of conspiracies is still solid stuff.

Deus Ex_ Mankind Divided™_20160827190745

But more than that, Deus Ex: Mankind Divided rewards exploration. Various side-quests, interactions with bit characters or eavesdropping on a conversation add to the overall lore as Jensen races towards the climax of a game five years in the making. Said climax can easily be done within 8-10 hours, but its those various sidequests that at least offer many hours of meat on the bone.

Deus Ex_ Mankind Divided™_20160826155407

So how does it play then? Make no mistake, Deus Ex veterans are going to see some familiar gears in motion here. Jensen still has access to a wide array of built-in features like some sort of Swiss Army Knife if Victorinox had an unlimited budget. It’s not too long before the obligatory reset kicks in and you’re forced to start from square one, but at least Mankind Divided does so in a tactful way that makes sense and paves the way for all new augmentations to tinker around with.

And just like Human Revolution, Mankind Divided prides itself on choice. Jensen may be a one-mech army with magic pockets, but going in guns blazing isn’t exactly advised. Jensen works better as a stealth operative, using his augmentations to work his way around enemies, incapacitate them and slip out without ever setting off the alarm.

Deus Ex_ Mankind Divided™_20160826160207

Hacking anything with an electrical pulse, knocking out targets with new gadgets and straight up seeing if augmentations can survive a shotgun blast to the face are all valid options here that work splendidly and independently of each other. Trying to combine them into a cohesive whole however? That’s a whole other story. It’s either stealth or combat, a choice that becomes infuriatingly obvious when you realise that Deus Ex: Mankind requires finger gymnastics to operate these ideas at peak efficiency.

Deus Ex_ Mankind Divided™_20160825160122

It’s very much a different story on PC where those players can easily optimise the experience for themselves on a keyboard, but on console? This is how you break fingers. There’s some utterly baffling ideas here, across an entire trio of control schemes that really nail home the limitation of a console controller. The end result is a system of inputs which favours one style of play over the other, but doesn’t complement its counterpart in the slightest.

Deus Ex_ Mankind Divided™_20160826164718

Meanwhile, the visual side of Deus Ex:Mankind Divided is another mixed bag of ideas. Character models look barely current-gen, animated to look like marionettes on crack cocaine and voiced with the care of a Shaw Brothers kung-fu movie dub. It’s the art direction however, where Mankind Divided shines. Prague may be cracking down on augmented humans, but it feels alive and dangerous, a hub city with next-gen advertising and style.

Jensen and the rest of Mankind Divided are still keeping the idea of a new Renaissance alive, mixing fine art with a cyberpunk influence and the reflection of a darker time to live in. No other game can boast having a sense of style so singularly focused as Deus Ex: Mankind Divided can. It’s a visual signature that speaks volumes about the artistic strength of this title, amplified by locations such as Golem City which feature all manner of shanty-town design influences in a modern age.

Deus Ex_ Mankind Divided™_20160827181622

Levels themselves take advantage of this strength, with developer Eidos Montreal having opted to create smaller yet more detailed areas for players to infiltrate and explore. Meanwhile, the Breach mode augments Mankind Divided further, offering extra hours with logic puzzles as you hack away until the sun rises. It’s an interesting, albeit hardly necessary, addition.

Deus Ex_ Mankind Divided™_20160827143729

Deus Ex: Mankind Divided feels like another unpolished gem, an interesting blend of story and stealth that doesn’t quite manage to hit the same notes as its predecessor but is still an intriguing game that values your choices. And yet, despite these many flaws, it’s somehow still magnificent. It’s a game where the main story might falter but the side missions flesh it out properly. Where controls may require you to break your fingers to adeptly switch between genres, but serves either play-style adequately.

It’s  addictive, gorgeous where it counts and worth not just a play but several more as well, as the world of Adam Jensen is a terrifyingly interesting time to be alive in.


Last Updated: August 29, 2016

Deus Ex: Mankind Divided
Deus Ex: Mankind Divided is still a Deus Ex game through and through, even if it doesn’t always manage to hit the same highs as its predecessor. But for all its faults, its numerous other triumphs made it utterly compelling to play through until the end.
Deus Ex: Mankind Divided was reviewed on PlayStation 4
84 / 100


  1. I want it!


  2. Hammersteyn_hates_Raid0

    August 29, 2016 at 10:10

    Already broke into all the neighbours houses for supplies, inventory is a little small, but unlike NMS you can store stuff you don’t need in your house o/ I miss the yellow saturation from the previous game a little


    • Ir0nseraph

      August 29, 2016 at 10:24

      I played doom for 15 minutes this weekend and it was awesome, at this rate I will start Deus Ex when the new one releases 🙂


      • Hammersteyn_hates_Raid0

        August 29, 2016 at 11:19



      • Francois Knoetze

        August 29, 2016 at 13:42

        Man I love the new doom…but the rate my work and married life is going my favourite hobby is becoming my favourite “buy and add to the backlog pile and play in a year”


    • Deceased

      August 29, 2016 at 10:47

      This makes 8 of us 😀


  3. Spy Master Tokashi

    August 29, 2016 at 10:21

    Did your choices in the main story made any difference how you end the game?

    Does it have some sort of replay-ability to see a different type of ending or can you just reload and click on a different button ?


    • The D

      August 29, 2016 at 10:32

      The choice to reload a save is there, if you want to roll back a choice, provided you saved manually. Tricky question to answer, because I really don’t want to give out any spoilers.


  4. David

    August 29, 2016 at 10:30

    Spent all my hype money on NMS. :/
    I regret it, cause this looks good.


    • Deceased

      August 29, 2016 at 10:49

      But… But… this isn’t some non-physical hype – this is like concrete, it’s there, it’s hard, it’s more than you can handle and it hurts when… well you fall on it I guess 😐


  5. Deceased

    August 29, 2016 at 10:47

    After only a few hours of play this weekend ( probably around 4 ), I can honestly say I love the game… It’s exactly what I hoped for ( so far )… Man it’s good, MY BODY WAS READY, and it was worth it


  6. Dungeon of JJ

    August 29, 2016 at 11:24

    So far MD has a vibe much more like that of the first, which I obviously prefer over HR.
    It’s also a bit more diverse in terms of approaches you can take to situations.
    My only complaints are that the loading times are way too long considering how small some of the areas are and the animations of people’s faces aren’t very well done.
    Otherwise it’s a stellar game so far, the MTs are just a really big let down, regardless whether you use it or not, it doesn’t belong there.


  7. Shan

    August 29, 2016 at 11:54

    Finished Fallout 4 this weekend and immediately started playing Mankind Divided afterwards. While playing DX:MD I just couldn’t help thinking to myself that the game I just finished was better than the one I’m playing now. Don’t get me wrong, I love Deus Ex. I’ve finished the original around 10-12 times since its release. I just wish they made a game as epic as the original.


    • Dungeon of JJ

      August 29, 2016 at 12:00

      They’ll never get to that level of the first one again. Everything has to be so catered to the consoles these days that it’s gotten a completely different feel to it. Sadly. It was also much darker and gritter, which games try to avoid these days (probably to appeal to the larger bland audience).
      The first was also on PS2, if I recall, but it wasn’t as smoothed.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Check Also

Twelve Minutes Review – Stuck in a Mystery Time Loop

We’ve all experienced deja vu a few times in our lives, but what happens when you ha…