‘Deus Ex: Mankind Divided’ Review

Platforms PlayStation 4/Xbox One/PC Genre First Person Shooter/Stealth

Platform Played PlayStation 4

Developer Eidos Montreal Publisher Square Enix

Deus Ex: Mankind Divided is able to improve on almost every flaw its predecessor Human Revolution delivered to create one of the best adventures of 2016.

Deus Ex: Mankind Divided once again places the player in the augmented shoes of Adam Jensen. Following the Aug Incident that occurred during Human Revolution, Adam Jensen has joined Interpol as part of its Task Force 29 Counter-terrorism Unit. Since the aforementioned Aug Incident, society has become strongly against those with augmentations, creating a violent segregation between the augmented and naturals. Needless to say the beacon of hope that appeared within Human Revolution has been distinguished and Mankind Divided (as the title suggests) is a darker world there the human race is at war with one another.

Mankind Divided doesn’t shy away at showing the destructive path that was left following the Aug Incident. The first mission takes players to an abandoned offshore facility that was hit mercilessly hard by the event, with large amounts of those who were unfortunately present during the Aug Incident strewn throughout the facility. Mankind Divided’s main narrative is set in motion after a bombing takes place in the city of Prague, which forces more restrictions on augmented citizens. As with previous stories within the Deus Ex there are countless twists, turns and an unstoppable power pulling the strings to ensure the world is moulded to their goal. This constant ever-present threat of the “man behind the curtain” forced my version of Adam Jensen to be constantly cautious as I never truly knew who was truly on my side.

While the narrative is an interesting adventure that produced some roaring moments, the conclusion of Mankind Divided produces a solemn whimper. This is mainly due to the fact that a majority of the narrative explored throughout the campaign is left unanswered; which in-turn makes Mankind Divided feels like the first part of an extensive story, rather than its own self-contained adventure. While I enjoyed the ride, it was unfortunate that the conclusion did not truly capitalise on delivering an impactful and satisfying conclusion to the threat throughout.

While Mankind Divided’s story is soured by a mediocre conclusion, the array of side missions available ease that pain. Each side quest in Mankind Divided provides an interesting and exciting concept, with almost every side mission producing a high quality tale that could essentially warrant its own game. These side quests range from stopping an underground drug ring that produces lethal drugs for augmented citizens, ending the reign of an ex-magician who has hypnotised a group of individual to praise him like their messiah, or hunting down a killer who is targeting augmented individuals in order to “make them whole again”.  These examples are a mere glimpse into the fantastic side adventures Mankind Divided offers.

Players will spend a majority of their time exploring the extensive hub world of Prague, which is divided into a number of sections; each densely filled with interesting characters, missions and discoveries to be made. Mankind Divided fills each location of the hub world with extra details for the player to discover. These can range from newspapers referencing events, secret areas that require exploration to discover, or hundreds of emails to be read further expanding the universe of Deus ExMankind Divided’s hub world is made more interesting due to the verticality to exploration, which ranges from expansive underground sewers or the rooftops of buildings; with almost every single location housing some sort of secret or satisfying reward. After easily spending a dozen hours exploring the Prague hub world, I still feel there are secrets that I have yet to discover.

While the hub world of Prague is genuinely well constructed, Mankind Divided only sends players to a handful of different locations throughout the campaign. While each new setting produces the same vertically and freedom of exploration, it’s a shame these new areas didn’t produce the same depth and longevity as the hub world. Jensen only visits each new area for a handful of hours and these sections are usually tied to main story missions in Mankind Divided. I would have loved being able to experience the same depth of discovery Prague produced throughout every new area, but these new locations are merely available to progress the story and then forgotten. There is no option to revisit these areas after the mission has been completed and side missions are absent from each new area. While Prague feels like it has been created to offer countless hours of entertainment, each other area pales in comparison.

Mankind Divided excels at giving players an astounding amount of options when it comes to tackling combat situations. Whether players decide to finish the entire campaign without ever killing or setting off an alarm, or deciding to head in guns blazing until nobody is left standing; or even a combination of the two, Mankind Divided caters to each and every play style. This is due to the extensive array of augmentations players can utilise to succeed. While Mankind Divided offers basic augmentations, there are also a new range of augmentations that greatly alter each combat encounter. These new augmentations range from an armoured layer of defense that will soak up a lot of damage, a built in stun gun that can take down 4 enemies at once, and the option to shoot blades from your arms to produce a satisfying and vicious death upon your enemies. These new options compliment the augmentations that reappear from Human Revolution and allow an exorbitant array of options to be used when reaching your end goal. While it is extremely unlikely each augmentation will be unlocked during your first playthrough, Mankind Divided offers a New Game Plus mode to continue upgrading Jensen as you seen fit.

While the augmentations may seem ever-powerful, due to the fact each ability requires a certain amount of Jensen’s finite energy to be used Jensen never feels overpowered. Instead each battle sequence evolves into an intense game of chess, as players must make decisions on the fly that best suit the situation at hand. The verticality previously mentioned also offers a wide range of options when tackling each combat encounter, and the augmentations you decide to invest in will either limit or extend your options on the battlefield. For example, there could be a vent that will allow you to avoid all the enemies in this stage, but it requires the ability to jump higher in order to be accessed; or a locked door that will bypass your current situation, but requires a higher hacking skill; these are some of the ways your choices will determine how each situation is completed.

Combat is never an easy encounter (if you decide to go this route) as even on normal difficulty the enemy combatants will swarm your location, flush you out with EMP grenades or activate extra defenses in order to take Adam Jensen down. Mankind Divided also offers a difficulty mode that will only allow players to play with a single life, meaning if they die the adventure ends. Mankind Divided allows players the freedom to tackle each situation how they want, while also allowing players the option to control are masochistic they’d like their experience to be.

One of the biggest criticisms of Human Revolution was the obnoxious boss encounters that felt completely out of place in the Deus Ex world. Those who found these boss encounters to be a painful experience will be happy to know these situations are almost completely removed from Mankind Divided, instead most “boss encounters” are tense conversations that can greatly alter depending on your conversational decisions. These social combat situations are typically quite easy (especially if you have invested in the social augment) and most will come to a resolution regardless of your decisions, but the end result may differ. These conversational battles are interesting and tackling them in different ways produces some interesting differences depending on your attitude to the character in question.

One feature that does return from Human Revolution is the hacking mini-game, which is used to hack into emails, security systems and locked doors. While the hacking mini-game is not a revolutionary method to solving puzzles, there is enough challenge and variety to these mini-games that never made the experience boring or tedious. Depending on how much investment players have made in their hacking augmentations these challenges can be quite difficult, but success usually breeds useful rewards and extra experience point incentives.

Mankind Divided is a huge visual step in the right direction when compared to Human Revolution, with the power of next generation hardware allowing for detailed character models and a city with unique personality at every turn. Prague certainly benefits from these detailed visuals as almost every location within the hub world tells a story. Something as small as an insightful piece of graffiti on an alleyway wall showcasing the hardship augmented individuals experience on a daily basis, adds to the living and breathing world of Deus Ex. Opposed to the black and gold themes of Human RevolutionMankind Divided produces a darker visual tone that focuses more on grey colours and dank locations that truly emphasise the bleak outlook of the world. The dark visual thematic is also emphasised with the mix of techno and classical sounds that appear throughout the soundtrack. While Human Revolution had an audio soundtrack that showcased glimpses of hope, this is not the case with Mankind Divided. The musical score is much darker than its predecessor, helping relay the message that the world has evolved since we last saw it, and not for the better.

Deus Ex: Mankind Divided also contains an arcade shooter that is separate from the main campaign. Known as Breach, players are put in control of a Ripper, who is a skilled hacker. Players must tackle bite sized missions that take place within a digital world and hack nodes to obtain valuable information from large companies from around the world. Gameplay in Breach is identical to Mankind Divided, with the same augmentations and weapons available, but players will utilise their skills against digital defenses and security measures as they explore each mission. The faster and more efficient each level is completed will increase your score, with each level containing its own self-contained online leaderboard.

Breach contains an impressive array of depth, which could have warranted the mode to be released as a standalone experience. Players must utilise a finite amount of inventory and augmentation space to create their own unique loadout to tackle each mission. In order to increase your end score, modifiers can also be added to increase the difficulty or make each level easier. While most missions can be completed in five minutes or less, the most entertaining missions are called Darknet Files. In an almost Robin Hood type situation players can be tasked to find hidden information to help out those who have been wronged, with the first mission tasking the player to investigate the suspicious death of a young girl who was being treated for cancer. These situations are entirely text based but they made me feel like I was making a difference in the Deus Ex universe, helping those who have suffered at the hands of the rich and powerful. While Breach may not be a ground-breaking additional mode, it offers enough depth and interesting story content to produce a complimentary experience to the main campaign.

Deus Ex: Mankind Divided is an experience that will please any Deus Ex fan, and those who found issues with Human Revolution will be happy to know most of the popular issues have been amended for the better.

Mankind Divided’s narrative can be completed in about 20 hours, but for those who want to experience the array of entertaining side quests and secrets hidden through Prague will easily find themselves lost within the world of Deus Ex for over 50 hours or more. As the title suggests, Mankind Divided doesn’t shy away from tackling the hard hitting reality of the Deus Ex universe and there are many memorable story moments produced due to this fact.

No matter if you are attempting to finish the entire campaign without a single casualty, or without a single enemy left standing, Mankind Divided offers freedom of choice when outfitting your character and how you tackle each situation due to the excellent verticality built into each location. While the additional Breach arcade mode offers enough gameplay depth to provide a complimentary experience to those who want to step away from the main campaign.

While Deus Ex: Mankind Divided’s campaign may falter due to its obsession with building a bigger and better story within the Deus Ex world, this is still a supreme experience that produces one of the most encapsulating experiences of 2016 and should not be missed.

The Good

  • Excellent array of side missions.
  • Densely filled hub-world.
  • Wide array of augmentations and weapons.
  • Verticality of the environment.
  • Breach gameplay mode.

The Bad

  • Weak story conclusion.
  • Lack of interesting additional locations.

The Score: 9.2