Deus Ex: Human Revolution was one of those rare experiences where I really had no idea what I was getting into when I started playing it. I played about 30 minutes of the original Deus Ex, and none of the second game in the series. I was expecting to get a first-person shooter with some stealth elements, and instead I got an engaging RPG that reminds me a lot of the Metal Gear Solid games.
The story behind DEHR revovles around mankind using technology to make himself something more than human. Taking place in the year 2029, you take on the role of Adam Jensen, Chief of Security at a major technology firm (Sarif Industries). The firm specializes in human augmentation, and when you are gravely injured during a break-in at the start of the game, you wake up to find you’re the new millennium's version of the Bionic Man. Your mission is to find out who was behind the attack on your company, and bring them down. Adding to your motivation is the fact that the bad guys kidnapped your ex-girlfriend during the break-in.
The world of DEHR is a somber one, and immediately reminded me of Blade Runner. The game’s black and gold color palette and the John Carpenter-esque score help immerse you in the world. Despite its futuristic theme, the game definitely has a noir feel to it. As the story deepened and I got into the game’s final act, I was reminded of John Carpenter again, particularly the movie Escape from L.A. (which, despite being mediocre, has one of the best endings ever). All of the story threads come together pretty well in the end, especially since I had been reading all of the little plot bits found in emails and ebooks scattered throughout the world.
The gameplay in DEHR is much more methodical than I expected it to be, of course, that’s largely due to my play style. As you make your way through different areas and objectives, you can approach each encounter in multiple ways. For example, in an early mission you need to get into the morgue at the local police station in order to examine a body. You could decide to make a full assault on the station (ala Schwarzenegger in the first Terminator), or you could find a way to sneak in and around the building, avoiding confrontation with any of the officers inside. Both are viable approaches to take, provided you have tailored your character to that style.
Because you are “augmented,” you get to spend points on leveling up certain abilities. If you’re into stealth, there are augmentations that help you walk silently and even make you invisible for a short time. On the flipside, you can improve your strength, your ability to take damage and your skills with firearms if you more into a run-and-gun style of play.
What makes DEHR special in my mind is that it truly does support multiple gameplay stiles. In a lot of stealth-based games, getting discovered by an enemy leads to instant death or a “game over” screen. Here, you can fight your way out of a botched stealth mission. The same is true of the opposite. You might go in guns blazing, only to find out you’re in over your head. Looking around, you see a vent that you can jump into and either heal up, or wait until the enemy is convinced you’re gone. I got a lot of satisfaction out of salvaging a mission after my initial plan had failed (which happened multiple times).
There are a couple of things that don’t work so well in DEHR, and the biggest of them are the boss fights. I don’t know why the developers felt the need to tack-on boss battles to the end of some missions, but they are almost universally frustrating, and they take you right out of the experience that the rest of the game immerses you in. The other major issue I had with the game was with some of the augmentations. You will not be able to unlock all of the upgrades to your character over the course of one playthrough, so each upgrade you choose becomes very important. My problem is that some of the upgrades are nowhere near as useful as others, and you really don’t know that until you’ve already made a choice. There is no option to respec your character, so you’re stuck with each choice you make. Needless to say, I wasted more than a few upgrades levelling up things that did not pan out to be very beneficial.
My gripes with the game never ruined the moment to moment gameplay for me, and the world of DEHR is one I was thinking about even when I wasn’t playing. DEHR is an immersive, sci-fi RPG that was so much more than I was expecting. I would even go as far as to say it’s a Game of the Year contender for me.
4.5 out of 5 Visions of the Future