Game Review: Deus Ex: Mankind Divided

Morgan Park, Reporter

“Deus Ex: Mankind Divided” is a game that believes in its own vision. Square Enix Montreal has spent the past five years blowing out the world that “Deus Ex: Human Revolution” and its predecessors set up, and it really shows.

“Mankind Divided” feels like a true sequel to “Human Revolution” – both in the sense that it follows where augmented protagonist Adam Jensen left off and that not that much has changed when it comes down to playing it.

The game starts two years following the events of “Human Revolution,” in which a terrorist event triggered every augmented person in the world to attack those around them. In the years since, the augmented community has become one of targeted prejudice and mass oppression. Adam Jensen, now working under a task force at Interpol, is tasked with finding those behind a train station bombing.

Deus Ex has always been a series defined by its freedom of choice, but “Mankind Divided” applies this principal to everything you do. Whether you want to knock out guards and climb through air vents, charge into glorious combat, talk your way out of conflict, or hack computers and doors to make your life easier, the game always leaves the player with options.

“Mankind Divided” features every augment from the previous game right from the get-go, but there’s also a batch of new “experimental” augments for Jensen to play with. Though, for how much mention they’re given in the story about their power, they really don’t do much to effect gameplay. Some of the abilities are fun to use, like the dash and TESLA launcher, but they really just represent yet another way to knock out a guard or get through a door.

It really feels like the developers understand that choice makes for a more interesting stealth experience, but it doesn’t count for much when the basic feel of movement, shooting, and skulking around doesn’t feel great.

Nothing about the combat of “Mankind Divided” feels natural. None of the weapons feel great to shoot, with the exception of an incredibly cool shotgun, and close quarters combat is consistently jarring when the camera cuts to black before a lengthy cutscene of Jensen karate chopping a guard in the throat. The enemy AI is some of the worst of the genre I’ve seen in a long time, as they fail to check the perimeters of rooms when alarms are going off, and feel way too generous when they’ve spotted me and forget about it soon after.

The main story of “Mankind Divided” is strange in that it feels like the game always puts it on the back burner to make sure the player is checking in on side missions. That’s for a good reason, because it’s some of the best content here. Often, they’re more interesting than the main story.

Though, while my times of investigating a serial killer and joining an augmented cult were memorable, it’s completely baffling how many story threads (in both side missions and the main story) are left completely hanging. Of the two primary questions that the main story sets out to answer, only one was left with any kind of real conclusion. Perhaps these are questions the game plans to answer in a sequel or even DLC, but it’s nonetheless unacceptable to leave so much of the experience with a question mark.

“Mankind Divided” is a worthy sequel in the world of Deus Ex, but it feels mechanically dated in 2016. But if you can tolerate its stiffness, you’re in for an incredibly beautiful, unfinished adventure that puts exploration and choice at the core of everything you do.

(Three Stars)