Pip And Alice Chat: What Is Deus Ex Anyway?

With Deus Ex: Mankind Divided [official site] coming out on Tuesday (read our review), Pip comes to Alice with an important request.

Pip: ALICE!

Alice: Hullo there, old chum! What’s cracking?

Pip: The internet under the strain of all the Deus Ex: Mankind Divided reviews popping out of their embargo wombs, through the various CMS birth canals and into the digital world, I should think. On a related note, I have a question…

Alice: You evidently already know where babies come from, so what can I help you with?

Pip: Alice, I don’t get Deus Ex. Explain to me Deus Ex.

Alice: And this isn’t a ha-ha-hilarious misunderstanding of how ‘Deus Ex’ is pronounced – some ‘do sex’ japery?

Pip: Alice, is something on *your* mind? I mean, your side of the conversation has been pretty… focused.

Alice: So anyway, it’s the future and some people are part-robot!

Pip: Okay, shall we start with which parts? I mean, is this limbs or kidneys or heads or more internal stuff like really fancy pacemakers?

Alice: Any. All. Bit of this, bit of that. Deus Ex is mostly interested in heavily-modded people, futuristic security guards and secret agents and soldiers. Partially because CYBERPUNK but also because it’s probably more exciting to play someone with cyberarms than someone able to process booze really efficiently. Ah, jeez, the specifics get tricky.

So! Deus Ex: Mankind Divided, the one coming out on Tuesday, is the sequel to a prequel to a game which had a sequel. People love the game, like the prequel, and write hyperbolic comments about the sequel. The prequel-sequel, dunno, we’ll see. But the point is, they all have differently fancy cybermen.

Pip: You mentioned modding, but mostly it seems to be military-themed or hacker-themed. Could you get a mod that makes you a different colour or gives you a tail or puts a Teasmade in your leg or something? Something, y’know, genuinely useful as opposed to fighty.

Alice: I love the idea of the Teasmade leg. Your thigh pops open like Robocop’s. Do cool tricks spinning the teacup.

Anyway, in the cyberfuture, people will have all sorts of augmentations. Most regular people (who you don’t meet often) have regular things like new limbs, new eyes – the promise of medical advancements. Deus Ex is interested in when people go beyond human, gain abilities we’ve never had, and become… who knows! The prequels are more low-tech, asking “Am I still a man if I have sunglasses attached to my cyberskull?”, while the first game wondered “Am I still a man if I merge my consciousness with an IRC chatbot and upload ourself to the Internet?”

Pip: There was an art exhibition about transhumanism at the Wellcome Center. I think it was called Superhuman and it was exploring the idea of human enhancement and our relationship to that. It was really interesting – and something I’ve encountered in art because there are a whole bunch of artists who engage with those ideas. Does Deus Ex do interesting things on that front?

Alice: It has some really cool-looking cybernetic limbs and bodies and things? Ah, I don’t know, it’s competent but rarely truly thought-provoking. It’s enjoyable cyberpunk slush. Even the first game, which waxes philosophical the most by far, is… it’s thoughtful but not inspirational unless you’re new to these ideas. Mankind Divided seems to be taking the tack that augmented people are seen as less than human, as tools to be owned and used – subhuman, not superhuman. Deus Ex (as a series) asks “What is it to be transhuman?” without having much to say about what it is to be human in the first place. Oh god, I’m dreading the comments.

Pip: If I remember the research I did for an interview correctly, there was an event which prompted that antipathy, wasn’t there?

Alice: At the end of Human Revolution, someone trips a backdoor switch in augmentations that causes all augmented people to hallucinate, flip out, and get a touch violent. He was trying to show everyone the dangers of augmentation, y’see, and show the dangers of trusting technology before the Illuminati could do worse with the backdoor. The actual Illuminati. Like in the memes, Pip. But yes, all augmented people flip out, and society ends up segregating them and… from this point, I don’t know, I haven’t played it yet.

Gosh, I don’t even know where to begin with half of this. The problem is, the original Deus Ex and its sequel Invisible War were made by different people with different ideas, so speaking about the series as a continuum is tricky when the two don’t quite align. In theory, the prequels are leading into the events of Deus Ex but its focus and interests – not to mention its world – aren’t quite the same. Which is fine! I’m fine with that. I don’t demand perfect timelines, I can accept this is fiction, but when you want me to explain Deus Ex… do you want to know what the old men like (the electronic old men running the world – that’s a meme, Pip #memes) or what Generation Bing are into? I can explain this very poorly with a comparison of trenchcoats and sunglasses.

Pip: Well, given it seems so fractured, maybe just tell me what it is that you like about it so much and we can go from there.

Alice: I like the idea of Deus Ex. The promise of Deus Ex. The possibilities. It was a game and a world where it wasn’t initially clear quite how anything worked. It’s part first-person shooter, part stealth game, and part RPG. But parts which looked like shooty sections might be stealthable. Or you could find ways to skip one challenge by listening in on a conversation or chatting to the right person. It put these things in an RPG-ish world with plenty of nonessential activities, people, and secrets – none of which would be signposted with a quest marker. It’s probably quite boring if you don’t think about your options and charge straight through. But pay a little attention, be curious, and remember the rules of its world, and you might end up finding a tidy little power-up or, say, defrosting a cryogenically-frozen former Illuminati leader for a chat. One problem with Human Revolution is that its world is too small and it’s too concerned with helping you find the cool stuff – you too rarely feel you’ve managed to find something really special.

Pip: The thing about being able to find different ways to do things and feel cool seems to be a big part of what people were so excited about when it came to Metal Gear Solid V. In a world where that now exists, does Deus Ex still have the same pull, or have I missed something crucial about the differences between the games?

Alice: Metal Gear Solid V is an interesting comparison! It does have a lot of surprising things to discover, bizarre and delightful interactions between weapons, items, and AI. The dream of Deus Ex – and I’m honestly not sure it has ever lived up to it – is of similar ideas also extending to your exploration of the world and even personalities’ reactions to what you do. The funny thing is, while MGS V does have all these delightful systems interacting in surprising ways, a lot of the dream of Deus Ex comes from a few scripted responses. Have your cyberman pop into the ladies’ lavs and your boss will scold you later. Poke around someone’s flat out of curiosity and you might find a secret section to grab a neat-o weapon and discover, earlier than ‘planned’, that they’re a right wrong’un. It’s good! But I do get a bit confused when people talk about the infinite possibility of Deus Ex as if half those options don’t involve stacking crates to reach a window or sneaking around to swipe a key. Perhaps the problem is that Human Revolution only offers – and I’m tossing off a number out of thin air – three solutions all signposted when Deus Ex’s four might take some poking around. Or maybe it’s that it is still built on old systems at heart, and they can feel overly familiar for seasoned players. What surprised me in the year 2000 is the expected bare minimum now.

The more I think about it, the more I like the MGS V comparison. It’s updated an old, old game with new surprising interactions. Go sledding in your cardboard box. Make your horse poo in the road so vehicles spin out on it. Roll around in water to clean yourself and feel refreshed. Hide in an outhouse and play a tape of poopy noises to make suspicious guards shove off. I’m not suggesting those as features to be included directly into Deus Ex, obvs – it’s the idea of something old and adding new layers of entirely ignorable systems to create new surprises. Maybe the problem with new Deus Ex is not that it’s too little like old Deus Ex – it’s too much like it.

Sorry, what was the question again? Cyberglasses, yeah? Cool, cool. I own two pairs of mirrorshades, you know.

Pip: So what’s the difference between someone who has augmentations and someone who doesn’t? Like, that meme about not asking for this seems to imply that it’s a thing that can be forced on you. Is that universally true or do some people opt in for upgrades in the Deus Ex-iverse? Or did some evil corporation decide that the main guy’s arms were boring and that he should have lasers and blades and a Teasmade? I’ve played enough Netrunner to know the latter might be a thing that happens.

Alice: Ah! That’s an easy one. Adam Jensen got shot real bad by some naughty men and his boss saw it was a convenient opportunity to cut his body off and turn him into a robit. Adam is a magic lab baby who’s been tinkered with to magically accept augmentations without nasty rejection issues, see. He doesn’t know that but his boss does. So when Adam gets mashed up, hey, his boss turns him into a killbot to: 1) see if it works; 2) hunt the bad men. But Adam never asked for this, yeah? Memes.

Pip: Why isn’t that a prosecutable offence? I feel like if you go in for life-saving surgery and come out as a killbot the legal system ought to have something to say.

Alice: Mate, I’d be stoked if I went in for appendicitis and when I woke up the doctor said “Good news: we saved you from exploding bits by giving you knifearms.” Just think of the convenience when e.g. trying to cut a cake at a picnic.

Pip: I feel like you didn’t learn anything from the documentary, Edward Scissorhands.

Alice: Sure I did: how to make Winona Ryder love me.

Pip: Fine. But going back to Adam, “I never asked for this” seems like such a petulant response. Like, “I DIDN’T ASK TO BE BORN”. It’s not horror and it’s not excitement, just kind of childishly annoyed at the way life’s going.

Alice: It is strange that they’re trying to play up his human side when it’s so dull. Adam Jensen’s mostly motivated in the first game by getting revenge and finding his girlfriend, and he goes on and on. JC Denton, the cyberman from the original Deus Ex, is also a bit short but he’s in it for truth, justice, and the toppling of global conspiracies. Adam accidentally stumbles across conspiracy because his former girlfriend won’t return his calls. Cyberpunk protagonists do tend to be a bit flat, blank no-nonsense sorts who reflect their world for our enlightenment, but yeah, the trailers do go overboard with his monologuing.

Pip: Oh! JC Denton was on my list of things to ask about. Is he Adam Jensen’s dad or something?

Alice: Possibly the other way around! Jensen’s in the prequels. But yeah, I’m not big into the lore guff that’s doubtless in tie-in novels and ARGs, but I think Adam’s genetics are part of the template for cloning JC and his ‘brother’. They’re tube babies (also secretly!) who become test subjects for the first generation of nanotechnology augmentations, people who can be far more powerful and don’t suffer the stigma of e.g. roboarms. That’s a probable shocking plot that’s been choreographed since about ten seconds into Human Revolution. Anyway! JC and his brother work for a futuristic intelligence agency, superspies who discover that they’re not tools of The Man but THE MAN – the Illuminati and all their pals. The original game is way more into ’90s X-Files style conspiracy – it visits Area 51 and all. Yes, you can meet one of those gangly moon-eyed ‘grey’ fellas. No, it is not friendly.

Pip: So it’s maybe more like that guy and the other guy from Star Wars? You know the guy?

Alice: Jean-Luc Picard?

Pip: No! Not him, I know him. The other guy. Green. Has a gun. Jetpack. Clone.

Alice: KHAAAAAAAN!

Pip: I hate you. Boba Fett. That is who I meant.

Alice: Please, do explain. This is only 50% petulance on my part.

Pip: Oh, I just meant that he might be the clone of the other guy which seemed relevant to Denton/Jensen potential parentage. But anyway, going back to this here Deus Ex franchise, this new game seems to focus on the fractious relationship between augs and non-augs. Leaving aside highly questionable marketing tactics, is that an interesting subject area for the Deus Ex-iverse given you’ve said it doesn’t really have much to say on being human thus far?

Alice: Ugh! I don’t know. Maybe. It could be. Or it could be really ham-handed social allegory. The original Deus Ex was more interested in rebellion, revolt, what it means to govern and be governed, about power and freedom and all that – it was all quite fun in a rambling conspiracy theory way. It’s like listening in on first-year philosophy students in the pub. Mankind Divided seems to be drawing comparisons between augmentation and race, class, sexuality… it has Things To Say about The Issues. That could be promising but it could be proper rubbish. At least the worst Deus Ex could be was wanky.

Pip: That seems fair. Okay, so I have two more questions. One is: if I haven’t played Deus Ex or Deus Ex: Human Revolution or Deus Ex GO or Deus Ex: The Musical, do you think I’ll miss crucial stuff for Mankind Divided? Games try to be accessible as standalone products but this feels like one which might benefit from you having a history with the franchise.

Alice: Nah! If you ever suspect you’re missing something from another game, simply think: “it was a conspiracy.” That’s it! That’ll cover everything. Who’s this mysterious figure dropping hints? Conspiracy. Why did this happen? Conspiracy. Who got Adam Jensen’s dick? Conspiracy.

Pip: Got it. Okay. My last question is: why didn’t he augment himself out of having a Beppe beard? Or just… I dunno – when I see pictures of he seems so sleazy.

Alice: Deus Ex is a throwback: Beppe beards are still cool in the ’90s ’20s retro cyberfuture. Besides, how else is he going to woo cyberTiffany? With her cyberarms, she can pull a clean pint of Guinness in 7.2 seconds. (The Cyberqueen Vic has an angular 3D printing of Victoria’s head on the bar, obvs.)

Pip: Oooh! Is it time for a pint? I mean a cyberpint? We could knock off and go investigate some conspiracies down the cyberlocal!

Alice: Dear cybergod, please let me wake up with a cyberliver.

Pip: Cyberbottoms up, Alice!

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123 Comments

  1. Rao Dao Zao says:

    Isn’t it pronounced “dey-ooss ex”? I used to think it was “dyuse ex”, but the guy in the shop understood me anyway (he said “days ex” but he was also Glaswegian).

    • Schnallinsky says:

      i always pronounce it “deus ex” but i’ve got no idea if this is correct or not.

    • Sound says:

      DAY-us has been my go-to.

      Also, not Robit. It’s ROBUT. A robut.

    • MiniMatt says:

      day-us ex seems the most common, but in reality nobody knows how to pronounce latin as it’s a properly dead language preserved only via(!) the written word.

      So however you want and don’t let anyone snootily correct you is probably the best answer :)

      • Boronian says:

        That’s not entirely correct. The original Latin pronunciation is reconstructed by linguists and therefore known.

        • AngoraFish says:

          That’s not entirely correct. It’s still the language of the Vatican and Ecclesiastical Latin is not substantively dissimilar from Classic Latin. Latin is therefore still a live language and pronunciation isn’t particularly controversial, although like any language there are regional differences.

        • April March says:

          Ooo, I actually watched a video about that, like, last week:

          • MiniMatt says:

            That’s a really interesting video! And whilst I’ll always argue that “reconstructed by linguists” & “therefore known” are somewhat incompatible statements, it seems that educated best guesses are a lot better than I had realised!

            Now that’s settled, “scone” or “scone”?

      • poliovaccine says:

        Or, you could just pronounce it correctly, which is as a two-syllable word, day-euse. You aren’t dropping a deuce-ex and you’re not making an excuse-ex.

        I mean, credit I guess for the progressive attitude – “what’s the right way?” – “whatever you *feel* like, sweetie!” – but personally, my advice would have been to look it up.

        See, people think these kind of distinctions don’t matter, until they go to do something like get an abortion but they cant because their “fetus” is a “baby” now… Believe it or not, people who know don’t jist correct stuff to be snooty. It is usually because they assume you’d want to know, too…

        …but, “however you feel like, and don’t let anyone correct you!” is just never the way to learn the truth about something you dont know yet… like, ever.

    • jalf says:

      It’s basically Day o’ Sex

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        Nauallis says:

        $60 might not be the price you want to pay for that.

        • FrozenHobbit says:

          If only I could shake your hand, sir.

          • TeePee says:

            Probably better you can’t. A day is a long time, and after a while, you’d probably start getting creative.

      • Jac says:

        I just finished the intro mission of this new one and woke up in Jensons apartment in Prague. The first thing he says when he wakes up, and I quote, is “HARD ON”.

        • Unclepauly says:

          I reckon Viagra and Cialis have ceased production in this future. I also just got a picture in my mind of Inspector Gadget (go-go gadget panis!)

        • poliovaccine says:

          Oh please, as if you *don’t* narrate your various bodily functions as they occur? Next thing you’ll be talking like you wash your hands after you wipe your undercarriage or something! *chortle-scoff*

    • TheAngriestHobo says:

      Day-us Ex with most North American accents.

      Day-oos Ex if you want to go full metal Latin.

      I have no idea how it’s pronounced in the UK.

      • TillEulenspiegel says:

        Should be a little shorter than the typical English “oo”, but yes this is correct for either Italian-ish Church Latin or reconstructed classical Latin.

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          Angstsmurf says:

          Of course, the concept is originally Greek. So it should if fact be called από μηχανής θεός, or so Google tells me.

      • mOrs says:

        I thought the proper pronounciation of Deus was “De” as in DEstiny + “us” as in USage, minus the y at the start….

        • Unclepauly says:

          That is really hard to pronounce. I’m pretty sure nobody would want to say it like that.

    • Skydancer says:

      Correct pronunciation is “daeoos ex”.
      Source: italian, also studied latin.

  2. Tikigod says:

    Guinness? But I wanted orange.

  3. INCSlayer says:

    i have always pronounced it more like TheyUs Ex

  4. Tikigod says:

    When it comes to describing how into conspiracies the original DX was, all you really need to do is cite: link to youtube.com

    • Unclepauly says:

      So you think they have some kind of plot?… Yes! Dey do zat on puupuss.

  5. Premium User Badge

    Nauallis says:

    TL;DR review of Deus Ex (all of them): The future is bad, unless you like to shaft The Man, in which case the future is still bad but features regular, pretty explosions.

    • LionsPhil says:

      Deus Ex 2 has somewhere between zero and three good endings, depending on what you consider good. (There are four endings, but the Templars are pretty much straight-up not-good.)

      It’s also pretty committed to ending the narrative there. It’s a shame Squeenix wormed around it by making prequels, which have now seem to be turning into some kind of godawful alternative-universe reboot, like happened to Trek.

  6. Mi-24 says:

    I like the comparison between MGSV and Deus ex. In this video of the original devs playing deus ex (link to youtube.com) they talk about the whole idea of systems overlapping in interesting ways that they never expected (LAM climbing etc) and producing interesting results.
    HR seemed to lose this feeling though as the possible solutions to problems seemed to be prescribed by the devs.

    • Unclepauly says:

      Yup, that is one feeling that was missing from HR(and almost every game in existence). That feeling of “oh my, there’s more possibilities than I’ll ever figure out”. Seems there are some devs taking a crack at it these days though and that keeps me optimistic.

  7. Ghostwise says:

    They’ve completely lost me with the “augs lives matter” debacle Pip alludes to, unfortunately.

    But I’ll get it at a cyberdiscount as cybergame of the cyberyear in some years, unless the cyberrerviews are terrible. Plus, that leaves me with some time for a proper replay of the older Deus Ex cybergames.

    Especially with that nice Revision thing.

    • Unclepauly says:

      It’s pretty much getting all good reviews. Good to very good but not revolutionary or great like the original. The story seems a weak point and *really* loses points with me for that. The gameplay is HR polished so you know what to expect basically. The graphic upgrade seems nice.

  8. CartonofMilk says:

    Still have yet to get in this series. Human Revolution bored me to tears after like 4 hours. Never touched it again. Never played the original. Second one couldn’t run well on my computer at the time so i never made it far.

    Cyberpunk should feel immersive and it shouldn’t even have to try hard either, yet Human revolution was anything but. Last chance maybe. I’ll get this when it makes it to steam sales.

    • Mi-24 says:

      An easy way to get into the original is with the Revision mod, which updates the textures and some other stuff to make it easier to play nowadays. Hopefully you’ll see what all the fuss is about.

      Heres the steam page if you’re interested (You’ll need the original deus ex to use the mod)
      link to store.steampowered.com

    • LionsPhil says:

      Try the original as-is. Human Revolution was garbage and I share your no-I-just-can’t-continue view of it after the first mission, but the original is the best game every made.

      (System Shock 1 is also the best game ever made. As is Fallout 1.)

      • Unclepauly says:

        3-way tie ayyy? I’m agreeing although.. don’t tell anyone but.. I’ve never played SS1 D: although the second was greatness

  9. Robert The Rebuilder says:

    Thank you, Alice and Pip, for another interesting and hilarious chat! I never got into “Dos Equis” myself, but I still found this an entertaining read.

    • Unclepauly says:

      I really don’t understand any humans that like videogames but can’t get into deus ex. It’s like all videogames aspirations come true. It’s hilarious at times and always interesting.. I just.. I’m confluxubobbled

  10. Premium User Badge

    Ben King says:

    Me from across the pond wants to know what is a “Teasmade?”

    • tigerfort says:

      A Teasmade is basically a combined alarm-clock and coffee-maker-style tea machine. You set a time, and it will have the tea just nicely ready when the alarm bell rings, so that you can start your day properly Britishly, without any risk of your upper lip wobbling while you wait for the kettle to boil.

      • KevinLew says:

        I love articles like these because they teach you so much about real British life. I’ve learned so much about electric kettles, flapjacks (i.e. not pancakes), and Teasdales.

        • Llewyn says:

          As always with RPS, and perhaps British humour in general, the “real British life” bit should sometimes be taken with a pinch of salt.

          While the electric kettle is indeed a staple of real British life, and undoubtedly the single most important invention of the 20th century, the Teasmade is… well…

          It’s perhaps the British equivalent of the giant fibreglass figures that used to stand outside American truckstops and workshops to tempt people off the highway. It’s an important part of our cultural identity, but they’re not used, they’re not cared about, and many people will never even have seen one.

          I doubt youngsters like Alice n’ Pip have ever used a Teasmade. I remember them as something which existed on the fringes of my childhood in the ’70s – I have a feeling there was one in the room of the boarding house* in Scarborough my grandparents took me to one summer when I was 4 or 5, but I’m not sure I’ve ever known anyone who owned one.

          • Alice O'Connor says:

            Pssh! The Teasmade was a car boot staple. I was woken every school morning by a piping hot cup of Nescafe with four sugars and a quarter-pint of milk.

          • pistachio says:

            Nescafe? Blasphemy! Where’s my crucifix?

          • Unclepauly says:

            I’m american and I’ve never heard of these so-called “fiberglass figures on the highway”. Was this a thing that tourists would see? Living here for 37 yrs I’ve never seen any figures like this.

          • Mi-24 says:

            @Unclepauly
            Just watch Fargo

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            Nauallis says:

            @Unclepauly – the green Sinclair dinosaur (gas company) is one such example

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        DelrueOfDetroit says:

        Hold up, these things have a built in alarm clock and make tea automatically? I need one now!

        Well not now, but by morning.

    • Mi-24 says:

      Basically if you are British there is a legal minimum intake of tea per day. This is a device created by the R&D department of MI5 to assist the British public in meeting this requirement (basically because it’s really difficult to police even when you have access to everyone’s emails) which is an automatic tea maker integrated with an alarm clock so when you wake up there is a cup of tea waiting for you. And a hidden camera to look out for terrorists.

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        Ben King says:

        Thank you both! My girlfriend has a coffee maker that apparently you can do something similar with but that means leaving the thing plugged in all day and setting the clock and I can just see myself screwing it up. I feel so much more worldly now. Teasmade. Exotic.

      • Politik says:

        Yes, this!

        A comment taking in parts of the classic British cultural identity whilst simultaneously drawing attention to our current fears over privacy!!!

  11. SeaOtter says:

    Oh no, you’ve given me flashbacks to working at Game. All those people unironically pronouncing it “Jew Sex” :(

  12. Premium User Badge

    gritz says:

    If you’ve been with the RPS staff for well over a year and you still don’t “get” Deus Ex- why even bother at this point?

    The original game is, perhaps more than any other, one of the foundations of what RPS was all about. It’s definitely been written about more than any other game on this site. So if you aren’t already on board, why persist in having others try to explain it to you?

    • Alice O'Connor says:

      Fun, maybe. Curiosity. A chat with a pal, making them think about something they love from a new perspective. Heck, it might even provide entertainment to grumps who get all het up about how VITAL Deus Ex is.

    • LennyLeonardo says:

      “If you don’t already know, you’re an idiot for asking.” The mangled logic of a horrible ass.

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        gritz says:

        That’s pretty uncalled for. I don’t think Pip’s an idiot, but it’s hard to believe her curiosity is sincere when it could be easily sated by reading any of the reams of articles RPS has written about the game. Or spending $2 to play it for herself. Hell, I will buy the game for you Pip.

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          Nauallis says:

          It doesn’t have to be sincere; it’s part of the suspension of disbelief that you get to uphold, as an everyday reader. It’s very easy to forget that while the writers for RPS give every pretense of writing about PC games because they are passionate about video games generally, this is also their job and content brings page views which brings revenue. And they do have to write new articles every day, for the same reasons. The fact of the matter is that all of the regular staff are fantastic writers for the topic and medium, but they also like to go off the deep end occasionally… and apparently it worked, since we’re all here discussing it in some form.

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          Graham Smith says:

          The article has value to readers who also aren’t familiar with Deus Ex, of whom there are surely many. (Also it’s funny, which offers entertainment value also to those people who do know DX).

          I wrote a review of Deus Ex Mankind Divided despite having already played it and made up my mind about whether it was worth buying. I could have simply made up my mind privately, but I expressed my thoughts publicly for the people reading the site.

          • LennyLeonardo says:

            This is a really lovely reply, unlike mine.

          • Sentinel says:

            A lovely reply, which goes very well with the lovely review of DE:MD that you wrote recently.

            Thank you for both of them, Graham.

          • Unclepauly says:

            That’s how I took it, just as a fun way of easing newcomers into the deus ex world. I don’t even believe Pip doesn’t “get” Deus Ex, but I still read it and laughed. Jeez, some people get so worked up anytime someone touches their toy.

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      Kryzn says:

      If you’ve been reading the RPS staff for well over a year and you still don’t “get” humour why even bother at this point?

      Humour is, perhaps more than any other quality, one of the foundations of what RPS was all about. It’s definitely been written about more on this site. So if you aren’t already on board, why persist in having others try to explain it to you?

    • InternetBatman says:

      I was wondering about that as well. The article read as insincere or heavily scripted. What’s the point?

      • Sin Vega says:

        Christ. Limited to a handful of excellent friends, I forget how spoiled I am for quality conversation sometimes.

    • Cederic says:

      As someone that played Deus Ex when it was new and one of the greatest games ever made this article had no educational value at all.

      I read it anyway because Alice and Pip. Guaranteed to go off at an entertaining tangent. Teasmades and mirror shades.

    • thedosbox says:

      I see Alice was right about the comments.

  13. left1000 says:

    I agree with alice, deus ex isn’t as special as it used to be, because now all the good games are expected to do things like this. Still I think that means we owe a lot to deus ex, because without it, metal gear solid V couldn’t’ve happened, for example.

    even if deus ex is now less unique, that’s still good news, it just means all the games are better!

    • TeePee says:

      A good point – for further elaboration,

      (Also, I’m sorry for those I just trapped, XKCD-style.)

      • TeePee says:

        Well. I really made a mess of that link.

        • Aspirant_Fool says:

          You horrible bastard. Now I’m stuck on TV Tropes for the next 3-6 weeks. >=(

          • TeePee says:

            I’m genuinely sorry. I’ve done the dreaded wiki walk there enough times that I feel your pain.

    • MiniMatt says:

      I remember coming to this realisation over Elite – old classic games…. aren’t good. They were good, and they enabled and inspired all that followed, and they should be remembered and celebrated, but they’re not good games now.

      For a certain wrinklier generation of which I’m a part, Elite was our Deus Ex, and for decades all we wanted was a graphically updated Elite. And Frontier gave us exactly that. And we realised that wasn’t quite enough any more, that things had moved on, that being able to explore 48 gazillion largely identical star systems with a lovely flight system, pretty graphics, an awesome soundscape, and little but our imagination to inspire us was somehow now… lacking.

      • Kaeoschassis says:

        While I’ll readily admit I’m a little odd, it’s not often I’m as completely baffled by my fellow human beings as I am reading comments like this (and I read them all the time, mind you, it’s hardly just you). I simply cannot find any way to relate.

        All I can say is, I’m grateful, I’m so grateful that I apparently have a mind that works differently from yours on some level. I read your comment and it makes me sad for all the people like you who can’t go and enjoy the many, MANY old games that are still truly excellent even today.

        Mind, I don’t want to come across like I’m belittling you or telling you that your experiences are wrong! Just that I absolutely cannot understand it on any level.

        • MiniMatt says:

          I kinda love the fact humanity is so varied people can derive entertainment from such varied positions :) You weirdo :)

          Putting aside the technical challenges of old games, modern screen resolutions, dosbox etc, I guess I find interface design a big problem. The last decade has refined some standards which whilst unwritten mean that just about any game can be picked up and played. WASD will move you. Escape will bring you back a stage, ultimately to a pause menu/quit. Left click will shoot, right click will modify/menu/zoom. 20th century games were still figuring this out to the point where every single one did something different before everyone kinda coalesced.

          Some of this could be classified as “dumbing down” but that accusation is only rarely fair. A vast range of complex yet accessible games are now available, in fact more complex and niche games are now available thanks to self publishing / crowd funding etc.

          Then there’s the technical limitations the 20th century programmers had. Part of our craving for “open worlds” is that for so long that was a a near technical impossibility, so we put up with loading transitions, walls around our sandboxes, entire vertical dimensions forever barred, and 95% of all doors in any given village merely painted onto walls rather than being openable.

          The best old games found ways around these limitations or gave a narrative reason for them, but they remain clever bodges for what were then insurmountable problems.

          None of this is to say those old games weren’t *great* – they were fantastic in their day. And none of this is to say I don’t feel joy that other people still enjoy them – I guess I’m just not one of them. Onwards! The future’s bright! Or the future’s grimdark – soot black skies host to swarms of cybernetically enhanced hellspawn – either way, there’ll be explosions.

    • Unclepauly says:

      I’m of the opinion that nobody has done it better than deus ex yet. People have done certain mechanics better because progress, but as a complete package it’s not been toppled yet. My opinion is fact as well.

  14. Premium User Badge

    Ninja Dodo says:

    I like how getting a cool new Deus Ex game means we also get a bunch of nifty analyis of the original game and sequels:

    Easy Allies Deus Ex retrospective: link to youtube.com (the people of Gametrailers)

    Game Maker’s Toolkit on the return of the immersive sim: link to youtube.com

    Also, not new but related:

    Harvey Smith on Deus Ex among other things: link to youtube.com

  15. kwyjibo says:

    I went to the transhumanism exhibition at the Wellcome, I was annoyed that there was no Deus Ex in any of it, the curators somehow thinking the Incredible Hulk was a better reflection of transhumanism in pop culture.

    (The Wellcome Collection is still bloody excellent)

  16. Shazbut says:

    Beppe refers to a character from the British tv show Eastenders who hasn’t been on it for well over ten years.

    (Never change, guys)

    Deus Ex is the poster child for the dream of gameplay agency married to narrative agency. It is The Promise of video games as a medium. Not that there aren’t better games or that all games should be that way, but that the most important evolution is in that direction.

    • Rao Dao Zao says:

      Aye, Eastenders hasn’t been the same since Ken Barlow died.

    • jon_hill987 says:

      If I remember correctly Beppe was sent to Manchester (no one comes back from Manchester in Eastenders) when he realised, Truman style, that he was in a soap opera.

  17. Dachannien says:

    I just wanted to say how right you ladies are about Jensen and his stupid douche beard. It makes him look like a total douche instead of a badass. I mean, he’s basically the Keanu Reeves “Neo” archetype (minus the Jeebus symbology) but with a douche beard, and Keanu was a badass without ever needing to have a beard or be a douche.

    • Sin Vega says:

      Indeed. He not only fits a generic doucheface template, but resembles a specific douche I was unfortunate enough to know for a while, who a particularly unpleasant cretin to boot. It made Deus Ex 3: The Orangening much harder to relate to than the original. However flat his tone, JC did convey personality in his convictions and intellect, and was sort of likeable as a result.

      Also if you didn’t pick black JC, you did it wrong.

      • Unclepauly says:

        I had the same problem withe the default mass effect guy. He looked EXACTLY like my girlfriends ex husband who is douchemaster superclass. I had to pick a different face which I HATE doing for some reason. I feel like it takes away from the devs vision or something.

        • lglethal says:

          Fem Shep is your answer in ME. Has better voice acting too! ;)

          • Premium User Badge

            DelrueOfDetroit says:

            The acting may be fine, but Jennifer Hale’s voice is like a care-bear being scraped against a blackboard.

  18. FreonTrotsky says:

    The thing about the Deus Ex series is that the main plots are never that great and rarely have much to say. The only Deus Ex game with a great story is “Invisible War,” ironically the worst game (other than “the Fall”) in the series. It was well-structured, direct, on-point and has a satisfactory conclusion. The first game is basically a bad Dan Brown story run through a nineties cyberpunk filter–I love the story, but it’s really just a silly, fun-filled parody of conspiracy theories in a grim intra-apocalyptic setting. The gray death and all that is basically a video game take on the theories of nutjobs like Alex Jones, and the AI stuff is just Kurzwiel for Dummies. I love the game, but it’s pretty goofy from a story perspective, especially in its final four-level stretch.

    “Human Revolution” probably has the best written overall story (though not the best constructed). The points it raises aren’t particularly new, but I think it’s great that kids and uninformed adults are being exposed to these bioethics quandaries in a fun context. I also think the game gets at a basic problem of social inequality: how community resources, or lack thereof, have a huge impact on life outcomes. The game makes it clear that the augmentation technology is unequally distributed, and the wealthy are making themselves into gods while many of the poor are embracing radical anti-aug ideologies as a reaction to their relative powerlessness (extreme ideologies become more appealing when there is no other recourse). Again, nothing revolutionary, but I think it’s interesting for a game to do that, even if superficially. In short, anything that starts that thought process should be welcomed, even if it’s sometimes delivered in a heavy-handed, hackneyed way.

    Really, all the interesting content in the Deus Ex series is found in the setting itself, the world around you, the atmosphere of a society on edge, the philosophical conversations with bartenders, the private security forces running everything, the factions working at cross purposes. What the series has to say is largely found in those details (what kind of world are we creating?), and the most intriguing ideas are mostly seen and overheard rather than experienced within the plot. Video games have yet to tell a great main story, but they’ve gotten very good at telling an indirect story with world building (emails, one-off conversations, books/data cubes, etc.). People say the series has no real ideas, but it does on the margins.

    I know a lot of people have expressed disappointment in the new game because it tells a smaller, less epic story that leaves the player hanging, but I look forward to a more intimate scale and the small details. I don’t feel a story needs to be epic to be interesting, so we’ll see. If the play mechanics are good and level design great, I’ll have a blast regardless.

    • reticulate says:

      One of the weirder things I’ve happened upon on the internet at late is people who absolutely maintain that the original Deus Ex has a world-class story. I’m not sure if it’s nostalgia goggles or low standards, but that game absolutely gets by on being airport fiction pulp that on a few occasions leans a little philosophical.

      I mean, the first scene of the game is two very clearly evil people laying out the entirety of their evil plan in a very self-serious fashion while standing under a giant marble hand grasping a globe of the world. I mean, Aquinas gets namechecked but that probably adds to the hilarity rather than erases any of it. This is not a story of subtlety or nuance.

      • Unclepauly says:

        I frequent the webs quite often and have not met any of these people claiming world class story. Most people just claim its entertaining, which it is. The scene you just described is hilarious, but not in a way that is embarrassing. To me its hilarious that they would have ca hones to even do that scene, to take it that far. Every time I start a new game I laugh at those guys and say “oh shiz, here we go”. It’s just fun pulpy stuff imo.

    • Premium User Badge

      The Yahwg says:

      I agree with most your points ! What i liked in deux ex HR w had mostly to do with low income people. The prostitutes being forced into augmentation for the pleasure of the customers, the rumors from the homeless people, the guys trying to contraband some meds to hold on to their bodies… I don’t really care about the conspiration stuff, but the effect of a changing world on people with no power is something I want to think about.

      And I’m sorry to start what can easily become a comment battle, but it hink some videogames already have great stories on par with other arts. The last of us and its awesome character construction and ending comes to mind, for example. It’s a bit strange, but i think the witness and braid build something very powerful if not properly narrative.

      Surely there are a lot of games i haven’t played with very valid stories out there !

  19. preshrunk_cyberpunk says:

    In next week’s episode:

    Alice injects Pip with Mycotoxins as a crash course on cyperpunk survival.

  20. Premium User Badge

    alison says:

    I really like that photo of all the light bulbs out front of the Sydney harbor bridge and the bug lives matter sign. Bug lives do matter. Speaking of the Commonwealth, as much as I hate to admit it because JC “my vision is augmented” Denton is the cyberpunk comedy stuporstar, British cyberman Ben Saxon is the best of all Deus Exicles. He is not very dry, but he is a big softie. Sadly the PC Master Race hated him because he couldn’t jump.

    • preshrunk_cyberpunk says:

      Isn’t it “Aug lives matter”? I could be mistaken…

  21. JB says:

    I speel my dreenk

  22. Arglebargle says:

    Looking at Deus Ex now reminds me of watching Hitchcock movies with younger folk. You’ll get to iconic scenes, and they’ll ask what the big deal was. You have to point out that that was the very first time these things were done, Hitchcock pretty much invented these ideas and techniques. Now everyone does them, so it doesn’t seem out of the ordinary.

    • Premium User Badge

      The Yahwg says:

      Strangely, i find that older Hitchcock movies age better than modern colored ones. I think Strangers on a train and Rebecca are still very enjoyable to me but The birds or Rear Window, while still being great movies with awesome scenes, are less powerful nowadays.

  23. Premium User Badge

    teije says:

    What does the cyberfuture have against nice, normal greenery? Why so sombre and metallicly all the time? That’s what I want Alice and Pip to find out.

  24. thedosbox says:

    Pip: I feel like you didn’t learn anything from the documentary, Edward Scissorhands.

    Alice: Sure I did: how to make Winona Ryder love me.

    This little exchange was particularly enjoyable. I now want to see Pip do a “let’s play Deus Ex” video with Alice muttering in the background.

    • Hmm-Hmm. says:

      That does sound lovely.

      Thanks for the article, ladies. I enjoyed it greatly.

  25. kraftcheese says:

    I always thought his dicky heard was a reference to renaissance fashion, like the coats and ruffles some people in it wear?

    • SixgunSmith says:

      The beard is definitely a reference to the renaissance. The game is filled with symbolism from this era, from how some people are dressed to the gold and black colors everywhere. Oh, and the ceilings. The in-game ceilings have to be inspired by ornate renaissance ceilings.

  26. Aerothorn says:

    Alice & Pip are my two favorite personalities on the internet.

  27. April March says:

    What is Deus Ex? A miserable little pile of secrets. But enough talk – a bomb!

  28. Premium User Badge

    InfamousPotato says:

    RPS chats are some of the best chats.

    Also, I would very much like to play a Deus Ex Musical…

    …Have there been any game musicals yet?

    • Premium User Badge

      InfamousPotato says:

      And I do mean “game musicals”, not “musical games”. I don’t simply want to strum a plastic guitar (which I’m quite horrible at), I want to join in a choreographed song and dance with random pedestrians/NPCs in-game.

      • Premium User Badge

        Harlander says:

        Telltale’s Sam and Max had musical numbers, though they were just cutscenes, really.

  29. Josh W says:

    This talk is mean to Deus Ex, of course, but it’s interesting how it’s mean:

    Alice is absolutely right that the original game was built on the idea of conspiracy story ramblings. I don’t know how much x-files they watched, but they had a very clear idea of how to slowly expand the scope of things so that you’d think you have the hang of it, and then be surprised by some new introduction.

    It also had a totally different take on conspiracy from the kind of bitter scapegoating that goes on now; there’s a lot of conspiracy stuff that in the 90s was just pretty fun, and now has had an air of angriness mixed with smugness attached to it that is a bit annoying. Deus Ex doesn’t go “of course it’s the illuminati” it goes, “huh, it was the illuminati, weird”.

    And then, as with anyone having fun with historical research, it chops and changes bits out of different conspiracy theories and makes it’s own interesting result, where you get the impression of someone having fun with their brain rather than trying to pull youtube commenters towards apoplexy.

    This is a game which is pretty quotable, and pulls off the same themes in a few different forms on different registers (the classic line about the drinks machine is just as in line with the game’s themes as “god was a dream of perfect government”).

    On a gameplay level, the first game was absolutely about having weird powers, but on the story side of things, augs and aug prejudice was one of many background ideas, thrown in around a different core.

    Being a man with a drinks machine in them is a space that the new prequel series has carved out for itself. Which makes sense if you’re treating Deus Ex 1 and 2 as being in those games’ futures; you can stay away from those games’ main story and themes and focus on the obvious facts of the game, that you are someone with robot arms, and treat it as a kind of pre-emptive drama related to our own world, ethical problems of possible future augmentation etc. Especially as that transition is something that has mostly played itself out by the time the period of the original game comes around.

    But there is something that the first game tended to play about with that could be pretty nice to include. While the main villains were relatively easy to work out in the first game, even if seemingly disconnected from what you were doing at first, it still chucked out lots of references about what it means to be a rebel, or “against the system”, or subverting it in order to save it, in a way that nicely matches someone running around turning levels upside down and hacking everything. Confusion of objectives and allies, the privilege of being someone who makes choices for others while trying to escape the consequences, all that sort of stuff appeared in the game, in fragments of books that echoed your assumed frame of mind, in side jokes and random conversations, any random bystander could start chatting about what freedom and power mean, and that kind of feverish weirdness is something that really fits the scrabble to know what is possible and master the weird set of options available to you of that kind of game.

    Reminds me of metal gear solid 5 really, although that game tends to mix it’s weirdness mostly with non-interactive bits, and there isn’t the same kind of faction dynamics and layers of invisible war, or the kind of “what actually is going on here” of deus ex, partially because it’s coming in halfway through a series, and also because it has a poorer history of actually explaining questions satisfactorily as it brings up new ones.

    Anyway, there’s something to be said for games that play around with their moral clarity but give you a chance to recover from it, to be tricked, or to accidentally set of events you were not aware of, in the same way as those games tended to create weird systems interactions you weren’t expecting. Then you can keep poking at that power fantasy of control that comes up with games that are based around stealthy freedom, and how that relates to the equally stealthy, equally hacky conspiracies you are fighting against.

    Metal Gear V is in some ways a really great Deus Ex game, except that it’s crazy experimentation is held a little too far away from social interaction (that and the fact that it’s mostly not first person). The trick, which a slowly thickening strand of games have attempted, is melding that kind of improvisational simulative gameplay with roleplaying in the bioware or obsidian form, letting you portray a character and make moral stands, even as you’re killing people by dropping the contents of your pockets on them, climbing landmines, or attaching balloons to their cars.

    Some of my favourite moments in Deus Ex involved blundering into climaxes in ways that didn’t quite work, where you could imagine that someone else has walked into this situation politely and got a proper cutscene out of it, whereas I’ve somehow managed to trip this off in a completely different order. Making games that handle that more robustly, still give you good conversation options, and so then can expand it to a wider array of moments, is exactly the sort of thing that Deus Ex made exciting.

    One of the things that excited me most about Dishonoured 2 was hearing that they’ve tried to make the AI so that their scripted behaviours and conversation can handle interruption, which is exactly the sort of thing that can enable what I like so much about this kind of game.