Deus Ex: Mankind Divided ReviewPrice:
PC, PS4, Xbox One
Please note that all screenshots in this review are supplied by Square Enix. Supposedly in the interest of preventing spoilers from leaking, we are not permitted to use our own screenshots until the game launches on Tuesday August 23. We have deemed the screenshots to be a close enough representation of gameplay, but nevertheless on Tuesday we will update the article with screenshots captured by Jake in-game.
Update: We're using our own screenshots now.
Dropping into the room from a vent in the ceiling, I crouch-waddle from kitchen to living room, where a junkie is screaming into his phone, all threats and bluster. He's stressed, gibbering with panic, every line a vague hook to a plot point, some hidden purpose that I haven't discovered yet.
I'm not here for him though, not yet. I want to ransack his apartment. As I try to sneak across the room past him he notices me. As he turns to tell me I can't be here, that I'm trespassing, I punch him square in the mouth with my metal arm, servos whirring as I deliver the smackdown. Looting him and his place, I then hack his laptop to find emails that set me down a rabbit hole that takes me several hours to reach the end of.
Make no mistake, Deus Ex: Mankind Divided feels exactly like a Deus Ex game. There are conspiracies, augments and people sitting in dark rooms discussing sinister schemes. Human Revolution protagonist Adam Jensen returns, again working for a big company that may or may not be on the level while you, the player, try to decide if this playthrough is going to be non-lethal or a one way ticket to Murder Town.
Familiarity can be nice, like putting on a comfortable pair of pyjama bottoms, or having a cup of tea in your favourite mug. Deus Ex: Mankind Divided feels a little like that. It's reassuring, it's as good as you expect, but it's rarely revolutionary.
While familiarity proverbially breeds contempt, in this case Mankind Divided is so satisfying to play it's not really a problem. There is the sense that I know the formula by now though. When coming across a locked door, you'll immediately start looking around for a vent that'll take you where you want to go. There usually is one too, tucked away behind some boxes or just a little above eye-height.
The plot is well handled, if a little clumsy. Based in Prague, the most anti-aug city in the world, Adam Jensen has ended up working for Interpol, in a world where the augmented are feared and hated.
Several strands of plot are completely abandoned before the end, slipping through the cracks, but the attempts to show aug/non-aug segregation is sloppy and, frankly, problematic, with bathrooms marked for naturals and augs and train stations dividing the stations for naturals and aug passengers. Ride in the wrong carriage in the first hub, Prague, and you can expect hassle from the police.
It's allegorical to racial segregation and, while I think it's fine for games to explore racism and other tough issues it feels tasteless here. Party because of the gross 'aug lives matter' marketing campaign but also because the prejudice here has come from an event two years ago when every augmented person in the world became a homicidal maniac for a little while, an event described in-universe as one of the greatest losses of life in history. Everyone has stories of where they were when the augs assaulted mankind, and so instead of xenophobia, the fear of augs comes from a justified 'superpowered beings are trying to murder me' standpoint, which robs it of any real effect. It's a shame because it runs deep; posters for augsploitation movies hang in the tubes, and everyone talks about the aug menace as they go about their day-to-day lives.
Honestly, based on the fact I've used most of Adam Jensen's powers to punch anyone that disagreed with me into unconsciousness, it's a fear I can understand so the parallels to racism come off poorly, exploitative even. It's a shame because, in a post-Snowden world, a lot of the themes of Deus Ex feel more relevant than ever before.