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Deus Ex: Mankind Divided review impressions: Human Evolution

Hayden Dingman | Aug. 22, 2016
Deus Ex IV: A New Machina

And while Mankind Divided certainly delves into themes of racism, of organized state-driven segregation, it does so in ways that are (barring a few ham-fisted moments) more subtle than its marketing indicated. It’s been two years since the “Aug Incident” at the end of Human Revolution, the moment where augmented individuals temporarily lost control of their abilities and rampaged through major cities. Mankind Divided picks at the fallout from that event, the fear and anger from those who lack augments and the pain and regret from those who do.

Returning protagonist Adam Jensen is at the heart of this struggle. As a key participant in the events of Human Revolution and an ex-police officer, Jensen holds enough sway to stay relevant—indeed, he’s now working as part of Interpol. He’s also heavily augmented, which makes strangers (and quite a few of his friends, if we’re honest) deadly afraid of him.

Deus Ex: Mankind Divided

Tensions are further-strained by a series of terrorist attacks around the world—attacks ascribed to the Augmented Rights Coalition, or ARC. But maybe it’s a conspiracy? But maybe it’s not? The usual Deus Ex onion unfurls here.

Moving away from spoiler territory, it’s an interesting tonal shift from the eternal optimism of Human Revolution. The previous game’s classist struggles could be summed up by “Progress At Any Cost.” Now, a conservative bent has taken hold of the world and artificial evolution’s started to look like a huge mistake. Playing at gods.

And a conservative bent has taken hold of Deus Ex too. Your goal as Jensen is to navigate this new world, tug on loose ends in ways immediately familiar to anyone who played Human Revolution. The hub cities are a bit bigger—and it’s centered around Prague, not Detroit—but other than that not much has changed.

Deus Ex: Mankind Divided

I confess I’ve spent most of my time in Deus Ex doing nothing important, or at least not important to the main story. Occasionally I’ve had characters call and bug me to remember my commitments, to come meet them in some back alley or what have you.

Why? Because I’ve been too busy exploring. Explore, explore, explore. That’s what I loved about Human Revolution and it’s made a return here. Like all Deus Ex games, Mankind Divided is essentially a first-person RPG. That means a lot of breaking into people’s homes, hacking their computers, reading their probably-boring-and-inconsequential-but-what-if-it’s-important emails, stealing all their stuff. There’s something weirdly satisfying about Adam Jensen, the illicit house cleaner.

And so I’ve uncovered every corner of Prague. I’ve hacked a lot of computers. I’ve read a lot of emails. I’ve stolen a lot of barely-concealed pistols from people’s homes. Only maybe nine or ten hours in did I start working on the second main mission.

 

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