Deus Ex: Mankind Divided (Xbox One, 2016) Review

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Where a sequel should bounce back bigger and bolder, with a continuation of its predecessor that feels larger than life, Deus Ex feels smaller in length and in scope.

That’s not to say it’s a bad game – it’s entertaining to move through, it’s RPG system feels refined and over all it’s engaging. But it never establishes the weight of what’s occurring around Adam Jensen.

We experience a growing disconnect between those who are human and those augmented, we hear of Cults praising a machine God and there’s more conspiracies at work. But all that I’m writing here is window dressing. We never get to the jugular. And no amount of hacking computers or eavesdropping gives you the meat.

Seeing as this is a prequel to the original game and a sequel to Human Revolution, which ended with a big HOLY SHIT moment, Mankind Divided should’ve gone bigger and really pulled off some hard punches in terms of thematic material in regards to the world around us.

There are developments here, but they feel smaller. Not intimate, there’s not a whole lot of deeper exploration of the people in Adam Jensen’s lives there, just more low key. A middle chapter, if you will.

Another absurd thought: Mankind Divided is like a fantastic meal. But you’re still hungry. You want more.

Beyond the story, the game is fantastic. The design does away with that damp Amber color scheme and is crisp and easy on the eyes. There’s more room for non-lethal approach even to major enemies. Gameplay is addictive and feels smooth to control. Voice acting is solid, with Jensen being one note and broken inside and other characters feeling alive and fleshed out.

I enjoyed the debates in game, though I feel the social enhancer – though optional – should be avoided, as it becomes more about cheating a conversation as opposed to thinking for you independently.

Mankind Divided feels like an unfinished game. Like the middle chapter rather than a fully functioning sequel that stands on its own. That’s disappointing because the story ends just as the plot thickens.

While I enjoyed the gameplay and am happy I picked it up, I can’t help but feel underwhelmed by the story – it doesn’t hit hard or get to the meat of it. And that’s disheartening.

J’s Verdict: ☆ ☆ ☆

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