For many older gamers, 2000's Deus Ex represents the pinnacle of video game design. It merged role-playing, first-person shooting, and stealth in a way few could, allowing for progression options that were and still are unparalleled. While we've seen other games in the series such as Deus Ex: Invisible War, Deus Ex: Human Revolution, and spin-offs such as Deus Ex Go, and Deus Ex: The Fall, they haven't really captured the narrative or gameplay of the original.
Deus Ex: Mankind Divided follows up from the events of Human Revolution. You are once again playing as Adam Jensen, who has joined TF29 - an international task force set up to hunt terrorists that have mechanical augmentations, which give them near superhuman abilities. Like Human Revolution, in Mankind Divided you can deal with enemies by violent, non-violent, or stealthy means.
Unlike previous games that were jet-setting adventures taking you to the likes of Detroit, China, and Cairo, most of the action in Deus Ex: Mankind Divided takes place in Prague. While we were skeptical of this approach, there's more than enough variety in missions and the story holds up well to keep you hooked. Prague might not have the size and scale of proper open-world games it but makes up for this with density. There's a wealth of side-quests to encounter and things to do. From aiding a dissident newspaper break a few unsavoury stories, to tracking down a fellow undercover agent, there's a lot to do. Mankind Divided gives you the means to do it.
The game's power-ups - or augs as they're called - can be balanced. This means you can switch out one for another, adding a needed level of complexity that the prior games lacked. Between old favourites such as cloak, which renders you invisible, and newer augs that let you fire explosive blades from your arms, there's plenty to choose from, regardless of your playing-style.
Combined with improved gunplay, Mankind Divided does a fantastic job of rewarding you with a host of new toys and tech if you choose the violent, run-and-gun way to play. It's a welcome change as prior games in the series would only reward a pacifist, stealthy approach. This time, both options are equally feasible.
This is backed up by a straightforward, no frills levelling system. Whether you're exploring Prague's housing complexes or completing the main story, you gain experience points. These let you obtain Praxis Kits - crucial for upgrading your augs.
Each area is expertly crafted hiding tons of secrets behind locked computers and hidden rooms. Much like previous games, Mankind Divided does a fantastic job of immersing you in the humanity behind the spaces you pass through while searching for a path to progress, aside from the most straightforward route. Be it vents that let you bypass goons, or hacking into PCs to turn automated security against its owners, the sheer breadth and depth of things to uncover and possibilities to unlock makes Mankind Divided an addictive experience. No matter the odds, there's always a way around any obstacle.
(Also see: Deus Ex: Mankind Divided - All We Know )
However this would be all for naught if there wasn't a decent story unfolding as you weave your way around Prague. Mankind Divided's plot starts off a bit slow, but it picks up the pace and doesn't falter. With a host of memorable characters, shadowy villains, and (unintended) comic relief in Eliza Cassan - a news presenter for Picus, the game's equivalent of Fox News - it's a slick ride. Without spoiling much, it manages to incorporate player choice into the story with some hard decisions to make as the game progresses, adding much needed replayability.
When you're done with the main game, there's Breach Mode. It's an arcade-style time trial that's simplistic when compared to the core experience but a nice diversion all the same.
There are only a few minor issues we faced with Mankind Divided. Towards the end there's a fair bit of backtracking, going back to specific locations a few times to fill in the plot, which does become a tad annoying.
Also, while it wears its cyberpunk aesthetic with aplomb thanks to solid art direction, the game does slow down occasionally. This is most felt while exploring certain sections of Prague and towards the end. A visible drop in frame rate mars the proceedings considerably on both the PS4 and Xbox One. Hopefully a patch rectifies this at the earliest.
Clocking in at around 25 hours, Mankind Divided is a fantastic entry in a franchise that's finally coming into its stride. If Human Revolution was the foundation for Adam Jensen's adventures, Mankind Divided builds upon it in meaningful ways. From a narrative standpoint, it's The Empire Strikes Back of cyberpunk video games - mandatory for fans and newcomers alike.
Rating (out of 10): 9
We played a review copy of Deus Ex: Mankind Divided on the PS4 and Xbox One. The game is available on PC at Rs. 999, PS4 and Xbox One at Rs. 3,499.