Hello and thanks for clicking on the headline of the first post in the “Just a Thought” series. Before you read the article below, or close the tab, allow me to introduce you to this new series here on BagoGames. Videogames have always been a very intimate hobby of mine, one that I enjoy sharing and discussing with friends and strangers. The “Just a Thought” series takes this sentiment and converts it into short posts like this one. No post in the series will be the same, but I can promise that each of them will provide a unique perspective, some interesting debate, and plenty of good conversation starters. “Just a Thought” is a like an open-ended chat with friends, a tank of thoughts put forward in an asynchronous manner for others to respond to. So please feel welcome to post your own ideas and opinions in the comments section below.
Exactly five years have passed since the release of Deus Ex: Human Revolution, or as I called it then, “Doose Ex: Human Revolution.” Thinking back on the time I went to pick up my pre-order for the game brings a smile to my face, as I distinctly recall having feelings of trepidation just a few days prior to its release. Having never heard of the series or the game that was to be the revival of the franchise, I only decided to buy Human Revolution based on a hunch of a friend. What makes it all so amusing is that, five years later—to the date—Deus Ex: Human Revolution remains one of my most favourite gaming experiences, and I can’t wait to get my hands on its direct sequel, Mankind Divided.
The thing is, as any active gamer will tell, amazing games seldom launch during the summer months, and especially not at the tail end. Not only did the game title open with the wonkiest pairing of words, the 18-year-old me had no clue why I should care for such an obscure game during a quiet period before all the “big hitters” came out. But, of course, I’m glad I did end up making the purchase.
Not only do I look back on Deus Ex: Human Revolution and think it had one of the most well-directed game environments and soundtrack, but I also recognize that it had something progressive to say about technological advancements that many modern games seem to be adapting into their storylines today. Human Revolution pulled me into a futuristic world, one that perhaps isn’t all that far off—it was a society coming to terms with prosthetic technologies that would enable ordinary humans to have extraordinary abilities.
The game questioned the use of technological integration with the human body and all the controls that should or should not accompany them. The protagonist, Adam Jensen, faced a horrific accident that could have killed him or left him severely disabled, but the modern sciences of his world outfitted him with a new, transhumanist-inspired form. What made him a fascinating character was that he neither asked for the new abiological nature of his body, nor did he want to face all the plots and subplots of organization-based conspiracies or the ethical struggles of possessing superhuman abilities.
These themes have been explored in some other notable works of fiction that have sprung up after the game. I’m talking about movies like Ex Machina or Lucy, and games like Call of Duty: Black Ops 3 or the visceral storytelling of the yet-to-be-released Detroit: Become Human. Certainly the arts have tinkered with ideas of transhumanism and powerful artificial intelligence in the past, but I feel as though Deus Ex: Human Revolution has really created a climate for and engendered a new sociopolitical landscape for resurfacing the age-old debate. And this time, I don’t think that the underlying themes and questions that provoke the inspired plot of the new game will necessarily appear as outlandish science fiction—at least not that much.
Aside from my eagerness to indulge in the debate for or against scientific progress to a point of technological singularity, as predicted by Ray Kurzweil, I’m excited to see how the argument has developed, in a game-mechanics sense, from Human Revolution to Mankind Divided. One game element I am particularly thrilled about is the ability to talk your way through important in-game conversations. I recall playing the first game as a pacifist, but the boss missions required you to pull out your weapons—often weapons that you didn’t have if you were adamant about stealthing through the objectives. Luckily that issue has been remedied in today’s release, and I can’t wait to see how it all pans out.
From atmosphere, to philosophy, to storytelling, to competent game mechanics, to informed progressivism, the revival of the Deus Ex series has flown very close to the sun for me, and all without burning. Today I look forward to playing the latest entry and hope it soars on my list of favourite games like the previous one did, and I ask you, what is it about Human Revolution that caught your attention half a decade ago, and what would you like to see augmented for Mankind Divided?