For me, every stealth game needs a bit of leeway in how you go about completing your objective. Metal Gear Solid V and Dishonoured are great examples of how to create an incredibly unique, one of a kind world, whilst still being able to keep it intricate and well designed. After playing Mankind Divided for some time, I can safely add it to the list, as it has some of the best level design I’ve ever seen in a game outside of Bloodborne.
In the game, you have a kind of HUB like area which is the city of Prague. In this area you can complete side missions, explore the city itself or root around in people’s houses for something interesting to do. While the map size may be small, it’s also well detailed and every little room or apartment you enter will contain some kind of story about the person living there, whether it be about someone who is addicted to a certain drug, or something about a secret cult, monitoring the media.
Any fan of previous Deus Ex games will feel right at home with the control system as it can be tailored to your favoured button layout. For anyone unfamiliar with the Deus Ex franchise, then there may be a little bit of a learning curve before you feel comfortable with your control scheme.
Combat is what really draws me in however, as you can adapt your style depending on your moral stand on a group of people. Lethal and non-lethal means of dispatching your foes are both viable options, and aren’t dictated by some kind of morality meter like in most other games. Mankind Divided let’s your own morality choose whether to go lethal or non-lethal. For example, during parts where you take on the police, I felt that I had to go non-lethal as they were only doing their jobs, yet parts where you square off against crime syndicate, I didn’t mind putting a few bullets into some bad guys.
A variety of different weapons also means that non-lethal take-downs don’t necessarily have to be done stealthily. If you want to, you can go in guns blazing with rubber bullets and pound on enemies Batman style. Just the sheer variety of weapons on offer and different routes you can take made me look forward to the combat sections where in previous stealth games, I would’ve moaned at it.
My only disappointment with Mankind Divided would be it’s optional Breach mode in which you capture certain points and extract data from them whilst playing against different opponents. This multi-player mode really wasn’t needed and the fact that Breach mode is, at it’s core, a Free to Play game based on the worst section of the game means that it’s exclusion from the game would have helped it rather than hindered.
Now the game also does contain micro-transactions that basically come off as paid for cheat codes. If one has more money than time, you can choose to buy as many Praxis Kits as you want to fully upgrade Jensen’s abilities. I’m not a huge fan of this and the fact that there is already a well balanced levelling system already incorporated into the core gameplay, it very much feels like the micro-transactions have been forced upon Eidos Montreal by Square Enix to try and squeeze even more money out of the customer.
If you ignore Breach the micro-transactions all together, and I highly recommend you do, then this will hardly affect a truly great game. Crawling through vents and behind cover has turned me into a nervous wreck at some points as a guard, fully plated with armour, will come withing reaching distance of me. Every step that you take is dripping with tension, as one wrong move could leave you dead.
As well as some incredible combat, Deus Ex also touches on some adult themes including racial tension and even fetish. In the game, Augmented People are regarded as dangerous criminals even if these people had to receive Augs because they were crippled or injured. I think that is does an incredible job to show the police brutality and daily struggles of people in similar positions to these Augmented People
What impresses me most about Mankind Divided is the choice that you have as a player. Everything from combat to level design is to be in your own time and your way. In fact, some key decisions in the game depend on how you talk to people. Certain characters in the game will have to be talked into helping you or doing something and this makes for some incredibly interesting and engaging conversation. Never have I listened to someone so carefully than when I was trying to convince someone to come with me willingly rather than use force.
Optional objectives can also have an impact on whether your boss thinks you’ve done a good job or not, and can even affect other people’s jobs in the game too. Right from the start I accidentally forgot to shut down a machine on a mission and have been harassed for not doing it since.
Side missions can also be picked up at your own pace, and can even be picked up half way through. There are no set starting points for your side missions and most of these starting points can be found whilst exploring. Mankind Divided praises exploration so much with rewards like Praxis Kits or even an interesting story. Most of my time was exploring Prague and reading about the lives of all it’s citizens.
Besides Dishonoured, Mankind Divided is the one of few stealth games I’ve ever enjoyed. This is mostly down to it’s amazingly detailed levels and the amount of variety you have when it comes to taking down your opponent. Mankind Divided is once again another amazing game, slightly tarnished due to a lackluster multi-player mode specifically designed to divide you from your money.