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Review: Deus Ex GO

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Mechanical App-artheid

Square Enix Montréal has a damn good track record thus far. Hitman GO, Pokémon GO, and Lara Croft GO all received high marks from us and raised the bar for what mobile puzzlers can look and play like.

The team's next project is Deus Ex GO, releasing just before Mankind Divided to give people a small taste of the universe before jumping in whole hog. Square Enix Montréal nails the Deus Ex aesthetic, but ended up making its gameplay more mechanical than was thematically necessary.

Deus Ex GO (iOS [reviewed on iPad Air], Android)
Developer: Square Enix Montréal
Publisher: Square Enix
Release date: August 18, 2016
MSRP: $4.99

From the outset, Deus Ex GO has a more obvious narrative than past entries in the GO series. Dialogue between protagonist Adam Jensen and other characters quickly establishes a new conspiracy to unravel, but it's ultimately the same type of story we've seen countless times. Lara Croft GO's environmental storytelling was stronger in its simplicity and a better fit for mobile devices. Fortunately, the story breaks are every six levels or so and are relatively short (unskippable, natch) so you can mostly ignore it if you so choose.

Since the story is largely forgettable, it's good that what you do between those chunks is usually just about as good as the GO games can get. Challenging puzzles task you with getting Jensen from point A to point B while soldiers, robots, and traps block him every step of the way. Like any good puzzle game, it starts off simply and ramps up quickly; darting around soldiers gives way to hacking nodes that disallow movement and can be used to trap enemies.

Hacking and cloaking are what separate this game from the previous two. As before, bumping into an enemy facing away from you defeats them, allowing you to clear the board and your path. This time, you can step on hacking grids that can be used to clear paths or rearrange the the board in small ways so you can keep the baddies away. There are also three power-ups that give you abilities like invisibility for one turn, remote hacking so you don't have to touch the nodes to use them, or a blast that can be used to take out distant targets. Strangely, the three power-ups look almost identical on the board so it's a bit confusing at first until you realize there's no way to progress without changing your approach.

Deus Ex GO is much harder than Square Enix Montréal's past outings. I like to think the team read my Lara Croft GO review and said "Screw this guy. He thinks our game is easy? Just watch" because I am occasionally narcissistic. Where I blazed through the latter game, the former was almost a bit of a slog because I was hitting my head against a wall so often.

Many levels boil down to walking back and forth in the same spot multiple times to get the enemies where you want them and then taking a couple of them out. It's all a matter of finding that correct spot and waiting for the right moment, which can be tiresome. When new obstacles are added, there's still that rush of wanting to figure out how they move, so it's still mostly great.

There are over fifty levels here as well as sets of devious weekly puzzles that can be attempted if you're feeling brave. In a cool move, finishing the main story and these weekly challenges earn you Praxis Kits (read: upgrade points) for Mankind Divided if you want to use a Square Enix account. I probably will as it doesn't seem game-breaking, but we'll see very soon.

Presentation-wise, Deus Ex GO is as sleek as Square Enix is capable of. Focusing on a more geometric aesthetic than Lara Croft's rounded edges or Hitman's cold exterior, almost everything is triangular or hexangular (is that a word?). It's a good look, and the music has a relaxing electronic feel to it with just enough anxiety lacing it to raise the stakes of the puzzles.

I feel like there's something missing here, though. I had a hard time placing it, but I think that the solutions to each puzzle feel too rigid and that Deus Ex GO doesn't quite cut to the core of its parent franchise like the Lara Croft and Hitman did. Lara Croft let you explore by finding collectibles around the environment while Hitman had small challenges like turn limits and using certain items or picking up briefcases. Deus Ex's only additional challenge is turn limits, which doesn't feel like you're playing Human Revolution or even the original game, The Conspiracy. Those games were all about choice and playing how you wanted, and that sense seems to be missing here.

Although Deus Ex GO may feel too straightforward, it's still in the top-tier of pick-up-and-play puzzle games. It may not feel thematically coherent to the standard previously set by Square Enix Montréal, but it's still worth your time.

[This review is based on a retail build of the game provided by the publisher.]


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Deus Ex GO reviewed by Zack Furniss

8

GREAT

Impressive effort with a few noticeable problems holding it back. Won't astound everyone, but is worth your time and cash.
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Zack Furniss
Zack Furniss   gamer profile

Liev Schrieber's little brother. Lover of horror and RPGs. Let's be best friends. more + disclosures


 



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