Deus Ex Mankind Divided
Deus Ex Mankind Divided is a fantastic game. It builds on the foundation laid by Human Revolution, and adds new twists to the powers without making you too godlike. The graphics are fantastic, and the new control system is a lot more intuitive than the previous game. The powers and items are streamlined, but nothing feels like it’s taken away, and in places functionality is added where it would make sense (for example being able to pick non-lethal ammo for the typhoon)
There are issues with the length, and I would have preferred to see the rest of the story integrated into the main plot a la Human Revolution’s Directors Cut rather than in the Stories menu. The stories feel disconnected, and it’s easy to see where they could have fit into the games narrative flow.
There are also quite vocal complaints about the lack of a resolution. Whereas I agree that the game is too short, there is a case to be made for the ending not resolving anything which I will make in a moment.
Overall, the game is very polished, takes all the mistakes from the previous game and deftly avoids them, whilst giving us a lot more to play with. The lack of length is the main downfall, along with a poor narrative conclusion
In defence of the ending
There have been a good number of people who have said that the ending of this game is unsatisfying. Allow me, if you will, to show why I feel entirely differently and come with me on a journey through Deus Ex history.
In Deus Ex, you are presented with a very final choice at the end of the game. You can either join Tracer Tong ushering in a technology free society, rule in secret with the Illuminati, or merge with the Helios AI to give everyone the capabilities denied them and uplift humanity.
The problem comes in, I think, when Deus Ex became a franchise. The sequel, Invisible War, tried to merge the three choices whilst downgrading the consequences. This resulted in the world depicted for Alex D, but took away the finality of the first games options.
Then we have the prequels.
In my opinion, giving you options for an ending in the prequel games is a mistake. There are only certain narrative choices to be made unless we are to see a remake of the first game. Even then, we can’t see any final choice that would affect the world too greatly, because that would prevent the first game’s story from ever existing.
The delicate narrative balance you need to create a sequel or prequel can only be achieved in a game intended to be part of a series, and it’s my opinion that Deus Ex wasn’t designed that way, and to give any of the prequels the capability to have any world altering consequences is folly at best, and mind boggling arrogance at worse.
In short, the best ending for these prequels is to tell us more of the story, but not let us choose the path.