I’m a bit embarrassed by the number of blog posts that I begin with an anecdote about how I tried to play a particular game once and then gave up. Unfortunately, my history with the Deus Ex series is another one of these tales of woe. I tried to play the game 10 years after it was released and quit after playing only half of the game.
I’m sure I could make excuses for my inability to finish the game. I could expound upon the reasons why I stopped enjoying it, but any case that I could make for myself would inevitably boil down to circumstance. Wrong place. Wrong time. I would have been blown away by the game if I’d played it a decade earlier.
In classic Medium Quality fashion, though, I felt called to atone for the sins of games unplayed. I needed to give the franchise another chance. But rather than trying to play through the first Deus Ex, for which I have no nostalgic fondness, I downloaded the director’s cut of Deus Ex: Human Revolution. I was pleasantly surprised.
To say that I love science fiction would be an understatement. So for me, the initial draw of Deus Ex: Human Revolution was the setting. The work that Eidos Montreal put into crafting an atmospheric world for their game is apparent. I would go so far as to say that the setting of this game is its strongest element. While I might not be able to recount the specific details of the narrative, I will remember the grim realities of Human Revolution‘s dystopia. The game manages to illustrate some worthwhile concerns about corporate oligarchy and the role of technology in the advancement of humanity. Yet, the presence of these harsh thematic elements is never overly severe. That is to say that the game is serious without being heavy handed.
That being said, the mechanics at play in Human Revolution is nearly as fun as it is thought-provoking. I appreciate that the game makes room for varied play styles. Even though I could have leveled skills that make Adam Jensen an extraordinarily effective killing machine, I preferred a more subtle approach. I made it a point to complete each objective without killing anyone or even being detected by any of the guards. Playing the game this way creates a beautiful balance of puzzle-solving and precise execution.
The only complaint that I have with Deus Ex: Human Revolution is that it overstayed its welcome. However, this is more of a personal preference than a flaw within the game itself. Part of the problem is that the director’s cut of the game places the Missing Link DLC quests right before the final act of the game. At the beginning of the quest, Adam loses all of his augmentation upgrades and weapons, and I had to re-earn all of my skills. The game came to a screeching halt at the precise moment when I should have been barreling through the climactic sections of the game. The Missing Link turned out to be a really enjoyable bit of content, so it’s unfortunate that it so thoroughly wrecked the pace of the game.
Thankfully, I did make it through the extra level, and I finished the game a few days later. Almost as soon as I made my final quest choices, Eidos Montreal released a trailer for Deus Ex: Mankind Divided. Clearly, they were waiting for me finish the game.
I’m excited to see how the story continues from the Human Revolution. If the director’s cut commentary is any indication, the fine people at Eidos Montreal learned a great deal about telling an interactive story that plays upon the moral complexities that make the Deus Ex world such an intriguing one.