Believe it or not, dystopian cyberpunk franchise Deus Ex has been around for over 20 years. Deus Ex: Human Revolution marked the start of a new era for the franchise, after Eidos was acquired by Square Enix. This entry marked a huge leap forward for the action RPG series, and was received positively by fans and critics alike.
Despite being released many years after the original, Deus Ex: Human Revolution is actually a prequel to it. Set in 2027, it tells the story of mechanical augmentations which are used to replace human body parts and details the dangers and controversies that such technology can bring to society. As it turns out, there are several powerful and shady factions jostling for power, in a bid to guide and secretly control mankind’s evolutionary path.
You assumed the role of Adam Jensen, who was hired as security by Sarif Industries to protect a research lab in Detroit. After a devastating attack he suffered potentially fatal injuries, but due to extensive augmentation his life was saved. However, Adam struggled to come to terms with how much the process had altered his humanity.
What followed was something of a globetrotting quest which saw Adam discover some sinister truths behind augmentation technology and certain factions with questionable motives. Not only this, but he was more involved than he could have ever realised.
The best part of Deus Ex: Human Revolution was the creativity offered thanks to your many augmentations, which resulted in varied, thrilling gameplay that offered the player choices in how to tackle each given situation. For example, instead of walking in and simply shooting the place up, you could “takedown” enemies in a more stealthy fashion, either rendering them unconscious or by silently slaughtering them (the arm blade was a personal favourite of mine).
On the flip side, if you decided to make full use of your augmentations you would quickly realise that a swiss army knife of abilities was at your disposal, effectively making you a one man army. Using your Praxis points (which can be purchased or found in the game world) you could smash through walls, execute multiple takedowns at once, and even turn yourself into a walking grenade.
Adam was also a capable hacker, which is an important skill in such a technologically advanced society. To do this you would enter a small mini-game which tasked you with capturing computer nodes, but ensuring you stayed ahead of enemy security programmes. If caught, this would kick you out of the system and potentially alert nearby guards by setting off an alarm. Hacking played out in real time which increased the risk, but could be used to gain access to all sorts of devices.
Deus Ex: Human Revolution had a gripping, well-written and deeply thought-provoking story. It drew you into a fracturing society, and allowed you to develop meaningful relationships with the game’s characters. So much so it looked set to be adapted into a film, however that sadly sank without a trace in the years that followed the announcement.
In terms of the narrative, Deus Ex: Human Revolution offered the player a fair amount of control in how events played. Whilst interacting with various NPCs, you would need to choose an appropriate emotional response to coax the necessary information out from them. If you failed, they could completely close up and force you to find the information in a different way.
There were also differences in how the game could end, depending on your choices. Although the events themselves remained broadly the same, the closing dialogue would differ depending on how Adam behaved and the decisions he made.
Despite being a very different game to the original, Deus Ex: Human Revolution contains a fair few references to it. If you hold on until after the credits have finished rolling, for example, you’ll be treated to an extra scene and then the theme from the original Deus Ex.
Deus Ex: Human Revolution was ahead of its time. It was near impossible not to be absorbed into the morally grey and at times dystopian future society, where technology had advanced so far its power was unrivalled. Ten years later and the game still impresses today. If you’re yet to dip your toes into the world of Deus Ex, this is the perfect place to start.
Grab yourself a copy from the Xbox Store. It may be a native Xbox 360 product, but it’s playable on Xbox One and Xbox Series X|S too. You’ll find the game on PlayStation and PC also.