I’ve never really played a Deus Ex game before. Apart from some fragmented memories of an older family member playing through the original game on a crusty Hewlett-Packard (Google it, I’m old) and a handful of brief late-night Let’s Play viewings, I am definitely not what I would consider well acquainted with the franchise. After spending a few hours hands-on with the newest installment in the series, Deus Ex: Mankind Divided, I am full of regret because I’ve really missed out. How this series managed to stay under my radar for so long is beyond me, but even though I’m seemingly one of the few people who hasn’t fallen in love with the series over time, I guess it’s better late than never and I have to say, I’m hooked.
Mankind Divided immediately set the tone for me. It’s been 2 years since the events of Human Revolution which shocked the entire world and, as the title suggests, the world is divided. Naturals and ‘Augs’ (humans with artificial enhancements) are at a chaotic stalemate that has resulted in the breakdown of society. I got some pretty heavy Half-Life 2 vibes from the first level which is a very good thing. Guards parade around like they own the place, robotic drones fly around invasively scanning people for seemingly no good reason and the general depressing nature of the citizens stuck in this world really hit me.
It’s a very gloomy place to be, and I felt a sense of despair the second I was introduced to the world. I loved that setting, there’s all these little pieces of the environment that tell the story of a desperate and oppressed society. Take the signage on the walls for example. At a checkpoint you’ll see two signs directing human traffic. One sign above the gate says “Augs” with a human male and female outline, but with red limbs highlighted. As well as another sign with the word “Naturals” with the same outlines, but all in green. Another thing that really stood out for me was how occasionally some people will refer to you as a ‘Clank’ which is the derogatory word for someone who is Augmented. It’s those little bits of narrative that really sold me on Mankind Divided and made me feel like I was part of the world. Even though I was playing as Adam Jensen, I was actually starting to feel a little alienated.