Video games have an interesting way of illustrating events, trends or ideas about the world, and doing so through the vessel of fantasy or in Deus Ex: Mankind Divided‘s case, the future. After the dozens and dozens of hours I spent playing Deus Ex: Mankind Divided, I was stunned by the remarkable narrative Eidos Montreal had told and how closely we can all relate to its stories.

Adam Jensen is back once again and this time he takes gamers through a world that’s rot with prejudice, terror and inequality. To be an Aug in Prague, Utulek Station or anywhere else in Deus Ex: Mankind Divided, is to be an outcast. Jensen’s key loop into acceptance or tolerance, despite being an Aug himself, is Interpol’s Task Force 29.

This organization is where Jensen has allies and friends who all are trying to stop a serious threat from taking over. This is what’s most brilliant about the concept of allies in Deus Ex: Mankind Divided. More times than not, I was the one influencing who my true enemies and allies were. Everything comes back to choice and decisions by the player, whether you are talking to Mr. Botkoveli about acquiring a calibrator to balance out Jensen’s augs or Talos Rucker.

Gamers quickly discover that there is a force working in the shadows, and this group is responsible for the eventual bombing at Růžička Station. This event sends the world of Mankind Divided into a spiral of paranoia and blame. At this time, we are tasked with finding out who is responsible for the terrible event, but the answer to this isn’t what you might have thought it would be.

I’ll leave the ultimate culprit up to you to find out, however, it is shocking how spot on themes in Deus Ex: Mankind Divided are. How the game chooses to depict individuals like Talos Rucker or Allison Stanek is striking.

The view from Rucker's office (Gameplay images captured by Steve Ruygrok / Published by Square Enix).
The view from Rucker’s office (Gameplay images captured by Steve Ruygrok / Published by Square Enix).

In a time when we can’t possibly find just reasoning for why someone would carry out a terrorist attack, Deus Ex: Mankind Divided puts you right before the minds of those people. Have you ever wanted to know what was driving the will of a loyal, almost possessed bomb-maker? Deus Ex explores just that.

I’m going to discuss Allison Stanek and her involvement with one of the game’s most tragic moments, so spoilers are ahead if you want to walk into Mankind Divided with a fresh mind. Allison is but a brainwashed disciple of a convincing evil at work, however, gamers come to know her through a major choice they make. You will choose between confronting the Růžička Station bomb-maker, who we learn is Allison, or taking on another important mission. I chose the former because I wanted to know who was behind the bombing.

On my way to finding Allison, I went to her father’s apartment and searched through emails that were exchanged between the two of them. In those correspondences I found a father who was too late in trying to convince his daughter to come back to him. Allison had already chosen to join the group responsible for the bombing, and it’s quite emotional to read the emails exchanged between her and her dad. The same was true when I eventually confronted her.

The social boss fight gamers experience with her illustrates some of what might go through the mind of a radical, who’s driven by religion or belief. To Allison, her actions carry out the will of the Machine God. She, along with her loyal subjects who have been made into human bombs, believe after death their minds will merge with the “infinite consciousness of the Machine God.”

I wouldn’t try to sit here and say that Mankind Divided has discovered the things that drives terrorists to carry out horrific acts, however, it’s hard to deny the things Allison says as being very close to them. Could these be the thoughts of a terrorist we hear about in our world? I don’t know, but I do know the encounter with her is remarkably powerful.

Deus Ex: Mankind Divided brings issues, both big and small, we are facing today and brilliantly illustrates them. Whether we’re talking about the plight of a father trying to reclaim the mind of his lost daughter or what might actually be in the mind of a terrorist, Deus Ex: Mankind Divided hits a home-run with its realism, emotion and impact. There’s other instances in Deus Ex: Mankind Divided where you speak with major characters and the things you say have a direct outcome on the game’s narrative.

However, so we can move onto something a bit different to discuss, the last thing I will say about the plot is this is the most powerful gaming narrative in years. This is more powerful than The Last of Us, Spec Ops: The Line or any other tale you want to throw out there.

There is plenty of video game for you to bite into. Side missions provide a seemingly endless amount of content to enjoy. Each quest adds greater context to the game’s characters and world. They transcend the mechanical role of padding play time, and actually serve significant roles in your experience.

For example, I had the chance to learn more about Jim Miller and his life by searching his apartment. Just when you think motives are going in a certain direction, Eidos presents a side mission to straighten out your perceptions. There is meaning and gravity in the side content, so take your time with Deus Ex: Mankind Divided.

Collecting items is something you should be doing all the time. Eidos rewards those who hoard the most valuable of resources. Not only do they become important for Jensen’s health or progression, but they also help you acquire items of value from characters in the world. Finding neuropozyne early on and then taking it to a store owner will net Jensen something nice.

A in-game screenshot of the stunning Deus Ex world (Gameplay images captured by Steve Ruygrok / Published by Square Enix).
A in-game screenshot of the stunning Deus Ex world (Gameplay images captured by Steve Ruygrok / Published by Square Enix).

Gamers will be able to upgrade Jensen’s augments at their will in Deus Ex: Mankind Dividedbut you can’t completely upgrade all of them in one playthrough. You will have to choose which augs you take and which ones you don’t. I chose based on my play style, and went with hacking, social, and stealthy augs above others.

Deus Ex: Mankind Divided has loads of replayability simply because of the different choices you can make when talking to characters in the game. Augs also provide gamers with another degree of replayability because these upgrades do make your experience unique with and without each.

Deus Ex: Mankind Divided‘s level design provides tremendously rewarding results. They grant you immense satisfaction when getting through a level without killing an enemy or by killing all of them. The experience doesn’t just cater to a single play style. If you enjoy combat versus stealth, Deus Ex: Mankind Divided has plenty of rewarding action for you, and the same is true of the reverse.

I could go on for days and talk about the brilliant plot of Deus Ex: Mankind Divided. I could go on for days and talk about its compelling characters and choices. In favor of some sort of brevity though, I’ll leave you by saying Deus Ex: Mankind Divided is the most powerful, compelling and interesting experience you will play this year. You may find another contender or two later this year, but for now, Deus Ex: Mankind Divided is simply an unrivaled masterpiece.

Deus Ex: Mankind Divided is available now. You can pick it up on PS4, Xbox One and PC. Stick around for more video games goodness here at We Write ThingsSquare Enix provided We Write Things with a PS4 code of Deus Ex: Mankind Divided for the purposes of this review. 

About Steve Ruygrok

Gaming, Spirits, and Craft Beer enthusiast. If you say you don't like beer, then you just haven't had the right type yet. Great spirits keep away the bad ones. Video games are kind of amazing, just do it...or something like that.