The latest adventure in the Deus Ex universe has arrived. Deus Ex: Mankind Divided continues the story of Adam Jensen, a mechanically augmented human in the year 2029 – a dystopian future where augmented humans are feared and segregated into ghettos.
But how did that come to be? In anticipation of Mankind Divided’s release, I began a replay of its predecessor, Deus Ex: Human Revolution.
Back to the beginning
Deus Ex: Human Revolution, or DXHR for short, was released back in 2011. It also serves as a prequel of the other two main titles in the series, Deus Ex (released in 2000) and its sequel Deus Ex: Invisible War (released in 2003).
The game is set in the year 2027 and follows the story of Adam Jensen, the Head of Security at Sarif Industries, a company that produces body augmentations to enhance people with superior abilities beyond that of normal humans. During the intro, Sarif Industries is attacked and Adam is left mortally wounded after being thrown through a glass wall and shot in the head.
His boss, David Sarif, decides to save Adam by rebuilding him with the most advanced technology available. Adam is never given a choice about the scale of his transformation into an augmented human – all of his limbs are replaced, and he gets several other implants including augmented vision and an internal sub-vocal communicator – things way beyond what was required to merely stop Adam from dying.
Six months into his recovery period, he’s called back to work as they’ve been attacked again, this time by an anti-augmentation group called Purity First, who’ve taken hostages at a Sarif factory. Adam then gets drawn into a conspiracy that takes him around the world searching for answers and discovering more about his own past and how it connects to the current events.
DXHR became my favourite game of 2011. I just loved every aspect of it – the characters, the gameplay, the story, the visual style and especially the soundtrack.
So before I jump into Mankind Divided, I’d like to go back to Human Revolution and get to know the character of Adam Jensen again, and refresh my memory on the story and the details of the world of Deus Ex.
Old is new
Having played through the game once before already, this replay will give me the opportunity to take a little more time to explore and take in the scenery. I hope to make some different choices and take different paths through the story. There are also Steam achievements I’m going to try for.
One of the achievements I’m aiming to get is the “Pacifist” – playing through the whole game without killing anybody (except bosses), or causing them to die through indirect action (such as reprogramming turrets to shoot people). I tried my best to get this the first time, but failed somewhere. One annoying thing about the achievements is that there aren’t any trackers to indicate when you’ve failed.
I also only played through the original “augmented edition” which included some DLC and pre-order bonuses including a bonus mission featuring a young Tracer Tong (a character that appears in the other Deus Ex games). This time, I’m playing the Director’s Cut edition of the game which features “The Missing Link” expansion which I never played before. So I’m looking forward to experiencing new stuff.
Benefit of hindsight
I’ve already started making different choices, such as picking a stun gun as my primary weapon instead of a tranquilliser rifle. At the moment I prefer up close combat rather than long range sniper action. Just this choice alone has already made me pick different routes through the environment and conveniently makes it easier to hide victims I’ve knocked out (because I’m right next to them as opposed to on a rooftop far away).
Originally at the end of the first mission involving the factory hostage situation, I convinced the hostage taker, Zeke Sanders, to stand down through a successful conversation check, and let him go. This has advantages later on when he appears again and helps you in return.
This time, I decided that I’d rather have the SWAT team arrest Sanders, so I tasered him in the face instead of chatting. This results in the police and your colleagues praising you instead of bitching about you letting a terrorist run free. Sure, I don’t have Sanders helping later on, but I got an interesting new conversation when I found him in a cell at the police station later.
Another different handling of a situation involved getting past Desk Sergeant Wayne Haas at the police station. Adam was previously a SWAT team leader, and Wayne a former colleague. Wayne’s life went downhill when Adam refused a direct order to shoot a dangerous augmented teenager in what became known as the Mexicantown Massacre. Wayne was ordered to take the shot instead. Adam then quit SWAT on principle and Wayne became team leader.
When I originally encountered Wayne at the station, I learned that his guilt over shooting the kid lost him his position at SWAT, hence the crappy desk job. Trying to convince him to let me into the station wasn’t going so well, so I tried out my fancy social enhancer augment, which let me notice that Wayne was using antidepressant pills, against police drug policy. I blackmailed him into letting me in and an infuriated Wayne tells me he’ll never forget this. Later, Wayne loses his job and confronts Adam with a gun, blaming him. I was forced to knock him out with a non-lethal takedown. I felt like an arse for ruining Wayne’s life, especially when you visit Adam’s apartment and see buddy photos of Adam and Wayne from the old days on the wall.
This time, I’m determined to make a difference. Knowing more about the intricacies of the conversation system than my past self back in 2011, I managed to console Wayne into confronting his guilt and move past it. After absolving Wayne and lifting an emotional weight off his shoulders, he readily lets me into the station and even asks me to call him in a few days for a friendly catch up.
The journey, not the destination
I’m still in the middle of my playthrough, but I already know how the game ends. There are four different variations of the ending, but I’m planning on picking the same one as I did before in 2011 – it suited my choices and the morality I’d developed for Adam Jensen along the way. I don’t think that will change this time, but who knows?
I’m already taking a different journey… perhaps I’ll arrive at a different destination?