When Deus Ex: Human Revolution was released in 2011, it successfully revived a series long thought to have already run its course. The reboot, set as a prequel, took everything great from the franchise’s first and second titles and added up-to-date graphics and game mechanics. It also featured one of the most fleshed out worlds and stories of the time. Human Revolution’s success and critical acclaim led to the studio, Eidos Montreal, which was formed almost for the sole purpose of reviving the franchise, to announce a sequel four years later. And while the lead up to the launch of Mankind Divided was met with some controversy regarding pre-order bonuses, the studio has undoubtedly succeeded in creating yet another compelling entry into the classic franchise.
Set two years after the events of Human Revolution, in a world struggling with the aftermath of the augmented disaster, called The Incident, Adam Jensen has ended up under the employ of Task Force 29 of Interpol without much memory of how he survived the events that transpired at the of Human Revolution. And much like the first game, Jensen inevitably finds himself in the middle of another conspiracy and sets out to uncover its secrets. While the game does take you to several locations around the globe, most of your time in Mankind Divided will be spent in Prague and its neighborhoods. But even with its seemingly limited area, there’s actually a lot to explore and discover in Prague and the few areas outside of it the game takes you to.
The world in Mankind Divided is so much more alive than it was in Human Revolution. From the random, unimportant events and sequences that happen all around you as you explore Prague to the dialogue you get to overhear during missions. The game makes you feel part of a seemingly real world that is, even with its commonly dark themes, undeniably gorgeous. The game’s version of Prague as well as the other locations the game takes you to all look stunning and impressive. The graphical improvement from Human Revolution to Mankind Divided is tremendous, making exploring every area and going through dialogue and cinematic sequences much more entertaining.
Soon after the beginning of Mankind Divided, Jensen, after a series of events, discovers that he has a whole slew of new and unknown augmentations. But in the process of this discovery he also inadvertently gets all his augmentations reset, negating the two years’ worth of experience he’s gained since the end of Human Revolution, forcing him to have to relearn all of them. This twist gave the developers a good way to not only start the game’s character progression but also allow it and the new augmentations to fit into the game’s plot. This twist also leads into a separate story line from the game’s main plot, one of many in the game’s duration.
Just like in Human Revolution, missions in Mankind Divided can be approached and accomplished in a number of directions depending on your preference or playstyle. But Mankind Divided has picked things up a notch and has pretty much multiplied the possible ways you could go about a mission by not only adding more ways to get from one area to another but also making it easy and possible to switch from one approach to another, giving you more freedom in the way you play and build up Jensen’s abilities. Add to that all the new augmentations at your disposal such as Remote Hacking and Icarus Dash (which lets you almost instantly dash forward a certain distance) and you’re able to reach far more places and do more things like never before.
If you’re type of player who would rather shoot his way through every situation and mission, Mankind Divided offers an improved combat experience compared to its predecessor. Shooting now feels more akin to a true first-person shooter and the new cover-to-cover movement mechanic along with other features that easily lets you position yourself better in combat. There’s also the revamped, on-the-fly weapon mod system that easily lets you turn your mid-range combat rifle into something closer to a sniper rifle just by replacing a few mods. The flexibility of the new weapon mod system also allows more versatility with your weapon loadout, allowing you to have multiple solutions available to you depending on the situation.
But after all the sneaking, hacking, and shooting, the best thing about Mankind Divided is undoubtedly its fiction. The amount of story content you’re able to discover throughout the game – whether crucial, helpful, or just for flavor – as you explore Prague and its neighborhoods gives you an immersive look into the game’s world as it currently stands from the perspective of its inhabitants, both normal and augmented. The developers have not only succeeded in fleshing out the game’s main narrative but also into making the world of Mankind Divided feel more genuine, making you more and more interested as you continue to discover more about it.
The biggest, and probably the only, problem of Mankind Divided is how abrupt it ends. After a final boss fight that was surprisingly too easy to beat, the game ends without concluding many of the storylines it opens, leaving us with even more questions than answers, giving us the impression that the developers were confident enough with the work that they’ve done that it would be safe to leave things unresolved until a further installment. This is further implied in the sequences after the game ends which open up even more possible storylines for the game’s possible sequel.
While many of the game’s side missions are minor and conclude themselves within the duration of the game, there are a number of larger ones that are never fully concluded by the game’s end, implying that they may be continued in the game’s nest installment. Even the main storyline seems a bit short in reach and scope compared to Human Revolution, especially when you eventually see the bigger picture of the game’s plot. That isn’t saying that Mankind Divided’s story is subpar. On the contrary, while this installment’s story was smaller in scale, it was engaging enough to get one invested, complex enough without being overcomplicated, and lasted long enough without becoming dragging.
Eidos Montreal have not only succeeded in fleshing out the Deus Ex world even further in their second outing of the franchise but they have also created an excellent sequel that, aside from its seemingly smaller story, is a significant improvement from its predecessor in every way. From aesthetics and dialogue, to and gameplay, Mankind Divided provides a rewarding and fulfilling experience that doesn’t fail to impress. By the end of it, the game feels like an episode in a series or a chapter in a book than a complete story, making us want even more of it as our hunger for conclusions and answers is left unsated. We can only hope that Eidos Montral stay on the road they’ve started on and continue to build on the excellent foundation they’ve built with Human Revolution and, most especially, Mankind Divided.