What's eating Adam Jensen?


The saddest robot man

On paper, Deus Ex: Mankind Divided's Adam Jensen seems like the ultimate video game protagonist. He has the voice of a dedicated smoker, all gravelly tones and foggy inflections. His chin is so pointed that it might be more deadly than the blades that protrude from his arms. Jensen can leap off of buildings without so much as a scratch and fire off explosives from inside his body. Based on his skill set alone, Adam Jensen is constructed to be the perfect post-organic man.

But despite being a mechanical wunderkind capable of top-tier espionage, Jensen spends just about every second in Mankind Divided looking sad. While it's easy to chalk his case of the blues up to the racist remarks and constant suspicion that augmented humans face, I couldn't help but feel like the root of his sad demeanor stems from something deeper.

After a few days of digging and countless hours spent scouring the details of Jensen's life, I found a handful of reasons why the elite Interpol agent is really just a sad robot man.

Adam Jensen is sad because he doesn't own a wallet.

In Deus Ex's vision of 2029, society has moved past the concepts of flimsy paper cash and credit cards. I'm not sure if there's a specific in-game reason for this, but let's just assume that customers got tired of waiting for those chip readers to work while desperately trying to avoid making eye contact with their cashiers (who in turn, rebelled against cash after one too many customers produced soggy cash from their socks).

Since shirking the bonds of petty cash and traditional credit cards, society has moved on to all-encompassing "credit chips." They're a one stop means of having your personal funds ready at any moment with a sleek, futurist look to boot.

Adam Jensen cannot seem to hold onto his money. I mean, damn, there's like five separate credit chips scattered throughout his apartment. This can only be because he doesn't have a wallet. Why else would someone haphazardly leave their credits in such weird places?

Like this one. Jensen has chosen to leave some of his hard-earned moolah wedged between two musty books.

There's another credit chip on the table right next to his front door. I can follow his basic logic here, but it does seem a little suspect that a man who spends his time dismantling shadowy organizations and dabbling in webs of conspiracy would leave money right by his apartment's entrance.

Maybe Jensen has a squirrel augment that he never talks about. Instead of buying a nice wallet (he seems like a leather bi-fold kind of guy), he figured his time would be better spent hiding his earnings around the house. It's kind of like when you start drinking and decide that hiding things from your future self is a smart idea.

Like Jensen, you'd be sad too if every time you wanted to go buy groceries, you had to scour every corner of your apartment just to find some money.

Adam Jensen is sad because he can't get drunk like a normal person

If there's one thing that could take the edge off of living in a pseudo-military state like Mankind Divided's Prague, it's a stiff drink. There are plenty of bars lining the city's old-world streets and loose bottles of booze can be found in most alleyways and apartments.

It's safe to say that Jensen is no stranger to sipping on some alcohol. A few bottles can be found in his apartment's kitchen and an extra whiskey even magically appears on his table once the game's story picks up, as if to say "You earned this, you stealthy bastard."

And who could blame Jensen for wanting to throw back a drink after a long day in counter-terrorism? Breaking necks and protecting the world from villains has to be hard as hell. 

But in a world where turning to booze seems like a solid escape from the harsh realities of augmented existence, Jensen can't even enjoy one of life's simplest vices. He gets drunk in no time at all, stumbling around with blurred vision and all the awkward grace of a mechanical bull at a country bar. And then, mere seconds later, he's as a sober as a bird.

I tested the average length of time that Jensen spends drunk. A bottle of absinthe gets him sauced for 22.2 seconds, give or take. Imagine trying to tie one off by crushing a full bottle of booze only to come crashing back to sobriety like Icarus after his date with the sun, all within a minute.

Even beer, an efficient and cost-effective way of getting drunk for the thrifty drinker (I know this because I am poor) has a strange effect on Jensen's body chemistry. Ingesting a single bottle with the fury of a fraternity brother after rush week (again, I know, because I was that), immediately gives him double vision.

This only last for 18 seconds.

Three bottles of absinthe sounds like a death wish. As a final act of desperation, I forced Jensen to slug an absinthe trifecta. He took it like a champ. After finishing the last bottle, Jensen's apartment turned into a blurry mess for all of 44 seconds.

I assume that his complete inability to get drunk and stay that way for any meaningful stretch of time stems from having mechanical innards. Maybe Jensen has a metallic liver. Imagine how depressing it would be to try and get drunk only to realize that you would literally have to never stop drinking in order to catch a buzz. 

If there is a hell, that has to be what it's like.

Adam Jensen is sad because it's hard for him to practice basic hygiene. 

Every morning, Adam Jensen wakes up and is forced to accept the fact that most of his body is made of metal.

His mechanical makeup means that Jensen can beat people up without breaking a sweat, hack into any electrical device, and generally operate at a level that hovers between Olympic athlete and demigod. It also has some downsides.

Most notably, showering must suck.

For whatever reason, Jensen can disrobe and hop into the shower for a quick rinse with the simple press of a button. In order to look fresh and smell good, Jensen has to balance lathering up his organic bits while avoiding getting soap in his augmented nether regions.

If you pay close enough attention to Jensen's showering habits, you can see a forlorn look in his eyes. Behind that thousand yard stare is a man is terrified of short circuiting himself.

I'm no expert on the showering habits of half-robots, but I think it's safe to say that the squeaky clean sensation Augs seek comes from either motor oil or Neuropozyne. Not from errant soap in their gears.

Adam Jensen is sad because the subway give him anxiety.

Prague's subway system opened in 1974. By the time Mankind Divided rolls around, that's 55 years of public transit. Prague's underground tunnels serve as an efficient way for Jensen to move from one district to another.

Using the subway as a means of fast travel between points affords the game some much-needed time to load new areas. It's a simple way to mask the limitations of a game while giving players something to look at.

But Mankind Divided's subways don't just bring Jensen to new parts of Prague, they also give him horrible nightmares.

Pay close attention to Jensen's demeanor while he rides the subway. He's rigid to comedic extent, but he's not stiff and uncomfortable because of his mechanical legs. [Maybe it's all his disgustingly shoe-less fellow riders - Ed.]

Jensen's agoraphobic. Think about it. Agoraphobia is an anxiety disorder that stems directly from crowded and enclosed spaces. Subways are both of these things. A subway car is a metal tube built on awkward interactions and loose interpretations of personal space.

For Jensen, riding the subway has to be unbelievably difficult. It's counter-intuitive to his entire career. He's paid to infiltrate, eliminate, and facilitate all kinds of secret missions. Jensen's entire job description boils down to something along the lines of "gruff man who is good at winging it in extremely tense situations." With all of his augments and specialized skills, Jensen is a master of control in a chaotic world. He's at his best when things get hectic.

But he can't be that on a subway.

Jensen gets anxious whenever he has to travel across town. Constantly being stopped for cursory identification scans and being forced onto an "Augs Only" subway car is stressful enough as is, but knowing that the slow-turning, bureaucratic wheels of public transportation effectively strip him of his powers must be terrible. When he's on the subway, Adam Jensen is demoted from Interpol agent to a helpless man with a dour look on his face.

Even this kid notices how uncomfortable Jensen is on the subway.

Adam Jensen is sad because he doesn't have any friends.

It seems like everyone in Deus Ex has a secret agenda. Almost every character that Jensen interacts with is either hiding something, protecting someone, or both. Considering that Deus Ex's fiction is no stranger to secret organizations like the Illuminati operating outside the reach of law enforcement, it makes sense that people keep their intentions guarded.

Jensen isn't like most people, though. He's a straight shooter. His conversations are a series of forward statements and blunt answers. Jensen speaks with the force of a father who's not mad, just disappointed.

Over the course of Mankind Divided, Jensen spends a lot of time pressing people for information and chasing down leads. His relentless pursuit of justice and truth drives a whole lot of people away.

Which is ironic, considering that he has social enhancement augments.

Jensen's Computer Assisted Social Interaction Enhancer (or, CASIE) allows him to effectively read between the lines of every conversation he has. By using his augments to distill important conversations into a series of Alpha/Beta/Omega responses based off of the personality type of whomever he's speaking to, Jensen essentially gamifies his interpersonal relationships. He can win every argument and sway people's opinion with ease, but Jensen's conversational dominance doesn't earn him any friends.

Though Mankind Divided only has a few different conversations that allow Jensen to use CASIE, every time he communicates with other people, he seems cold and calculated. Even his emails are must be terse, judging by the response he gets from his oddly specific requests for a custom trench coat.

Uh, dude, You OK?

Adam Jensen is sad because he's still a human, despite his augments.

For his all of his secret agent training, trench coat and retractable shades, Jensen's still just a guy who has to deal with life's little issues.

Jensen's questionable taste in clothing and stern visage make him seem like a gruff old man. They also allow him to hide his mechanical appendages. Living life as a half-robot secret agent is cool -- unless you never asked for it.

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Ray Porreca
Ray PorrecaContributor   gamer profile

Kane & Lynch 2 forever. more + disclosures



Filed under... #Destructoid Originals #Deus Ex #Notable #pc #ps4 #Square Enix #xbox one



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