Deus Ex’s Adam Jensen Doesn’t Care, So Why Should I?

Adam Jensen experiences an emotion, yesterday

Deus Ex: Mankind Divided [official site] has a problem, and his name is Adam Jensen. Human Revolution’s returning protagonist has been my single greatest obstacle to enjoying a game I had, frankly, taken it for granted that I would enjoy. I don’t understand why this is his game – other than on a commercial level, of course. In the public eye, the Deus Ex brand is not the DIY route and vaguely philosophical reality-questioning that it might be to an older PC gamer. It’s The One With The Bearded Bloke With The Elbow Swords And The Sunglasses Built Into His Eye Sockets. That’s why Jensen’s back, not because the story DXMD is trying to tell needed him. If anything, he undermines it.

So far, at least. I’m some seven hours into DXMD, much of which has been spent avoiding more of the so far unengaging plot in favour of robbing shops and apartments blind, so I’m entirely open to the idea that the game finds a convincing reason for this to be Jensen’s game later on. The trouble is, his lack of any anchors to his world, and an enduring sense that the character is on a doing-it-for-the-cash reunion tour, is keeping me from wanting to continue. He doesn’t care. Why should I?

Adam Jensen has something to say

Again, I understand the commercial reasons for Jensen’s second act, but his tale is told. I feel like I already know everything there is to know about him, and so am doomed to repetition. Even plot-wise, the guy seems to be going through the motions. Despite having previously ripped his way into the truth of the world and forever altered the fabric of society, he’s working for Interpol now, as if nothing had happened, duffing up some goons, earning bank, returning afterwards to an enormous flat in Prague that, sickeningly, the game deems to be a ‘poor apartment.’

I’ve complained often that Batman games or Spider-Man films always seem to steer directly into Word In Peril / Immensely Personal Vendetta tales, robbing us of the chance to see what a day in the life of a crimefighter is like, making everything too dramatic too fast and leaving us with a poor understanding of what their world and life is really like. In DXMD’s first few hours, I finally get that. This is Adam Jensen on a Tuesday. And it’s boring.

Sure, there are huge firefights or elaborate stealthy-sneaks around crumbling skyscrapers, there’s an explosion at a train station and we’re introduced to a segregated society of augmented and non-augmented humans (presented as the have-nots and the haves respectively), but none of it’s remarkable or intriguing for Jensen. He just keeps on keeping on. Stoic, perhaps, but his gruffness comes across as bored. Hence, I am bored.

Adam Jensen: heart on his sleeve

He has nothing, this time, to connect him to his world. DXHR introduced him to us with a partner, a father-figure and a best frenemy, and in short order put him through tragedy and horror. We understood his place, what his personal stakes were, even what his core dilemmas are. That’s all resolved now, and, thus far, DXMD has not offered much in the way of replacement.

Spoiler: one thing that has happened is that a Manic Earnest black market cyber-doc has revealed that Jensen has a mysterious set of new, hidden augs of unknown origin, so there’s that, but again Jensen barely seems interested. His overriding interest remains being vaguely impatient with the admittedly extremely annoying doctor, not in the fact that someone’s secretly dicked around with his body. Potentially there are later plot reasons for this: fine, but these are the critical opening hours of the game. Make me care now, not later.

Adam Jensen is loving life

Same goes for the first vestiges of a new core cast, most of whom hang out at the Interpol branch Jensen now works for. Almost all are gruff, most sound as though they’re reading from autocue (Director Jim Miller is a particular culprit here, managing to come across as neither sympathetic ally or desk-thumping, intolerant hard-ass. Just another boring man doing his job), none give me reason to be fond of them.

There’s one woman who seems to be trying to flirt, and vague hints that the oft-betrayed and standoffish Jensen is now pained by the prospect of any relationship. Perhaps it will go somewhere, but thus far she’s been airlifted straight in and then straight out again.

Perhaps this stuff would have come across better if I hadn’t just spent four or five hours doing my own thing. Perhaps DXMD misses a trick by giving me what I usually want, which is a ton of freedom very quickly. I have these huge sections of Prague to explore and, mostly, rob, and I’ve found that irresistible, despite having effectively zero context for the places I’m in.

Adam Jensen is besieged by uncertainty

Hell, even Jensen’s apartment block is huge and packed with all sorts to find and steal. It keeps me busy for ages, without any idea of if who or what I’m robbing means anything. Perhaps the game should have waited just a little longer before letting me go off-piste – but then again, if it hadn’t, I might well have bailed.

The game is frontloaded with ridiculously long cutscenes, over-written and dour, burning my goodwill by the glacially slow second, so a big huge Prague to muck about in didn’t arrive a moment too soon. I just wish it had given me/Jensen a core motivation and dynamic right off the bat. Hell, even Deus Ex 1’s JC Denton, the blankest of blank characters, at least gets an older brother to look up to/vaguely resent, a chatty chum in his earpiece and, very quickly, an intriguing dilemma. The man you’ve been sent to kill claims you’ve been deceived. Who to believe? The fate of the world hinges on this moment.

Adam Jensen is a tortured soul

By contrast, in DXMD we get a few growly soldiers who don’t like Jensen much and eventually the option to save or not save one of them in the middle of a firefight you’re both already involved in. This vital first moral dilemma isn’t a moral dilemma: it’s just asking whether you’re lazy or not. A choice without clear sense of meaning or consequence is no choice at all.

Sure, I’ve already been offered a couple more legitimately dilemma-y dilemmas a few hours on from that, but again the problem is that DXMD has not set out its stall well. I am time-poor, and I have to ask myself whether I want to spend what I do have playing a game that hasn’t given me reason to care about what I’m doing.

This extends into Jensen’s broader role in the world – again, something I expect will be picked up more upon further down the line, but critically seems uninterested in enticing me as yet. Augs are an oppressed people, and here the game none-too-subtly draws parallels to the state-sanctioned racial discrimination of so much of the 20th century. But while most augs are poor and suffering, having random bolted-on tech that makes them miserable outcasts (and never mind that the last game presented Augs as being prone to all kinds of awful health problems), Jensen’s a walking god with the coolest mods in town.

Flip-out skull-shades! Expensive trenchcoats! Lucrative global cop gig! He cannot possibly know their suffering, but more importantly nor does he seem to express any, and as such the game’s clear intention that I should feel empathy for their plight is squandered.

Adam Jensen is making a stand

That said, I appreciated the chance to have Jensen flout the anti-Aug rules and stand on the human-only half of the train. It’s a player-driven choice, an actual demonstration of something, of resistance, a homage to the boundlessly brave stand of Rosa Parks.

At least, I think that’s the intention. It’s hard to say for sure, given that Jensen’s body language, expression and silence suggests he’s just popping out to get some milk. It’s more ‘sat in first class cos there were no seats left in standard’ than ‘society is fucked, let’s make it better.’ Plus he doesn’t even face consequences for this, because unlike other Augs, Jensen is special. He waves his Interpol paperwork and gets on with his day, having changed nothing, helped no-one. All he had to suffer was one woman’s grumpy stare.

Adam Jensen: Just There.

More’s coming, I’m sure. I just need to find the will to continue, to see it, even though he doesn’t care and so neither do I. Again, I question why he’s even here. Had this game had us playing someone who actually suffered the persecution that augs did, had a sense of loss and threat around them, I imagine that I’d have been feeling DXMD’s various messages and imperatives more keenly. Instead I’m playing as someone whose story was over, shoehorned into proceedings because, hey, expensive resin statuettes in limited edition game boxsets don’t sell themselves.

Adam Jensen is standing in a hole

I find myself thinking warmly of Deus Ex: Invisible War. A disappointment in its own way, but crucially it let me design my Deus Ex character to some degree – particularly gender and skin tone (was there beard and hairstyle too? I forget). Sure, the plot had specific intentions for me, but it didn’t tell me exactly who I was, what I looked like.

That opened the doors to feeling like I was some avatar of myself in the game, some character of my own creation with their own personality, and not who the game needed me to be. I can direct Jensen’s morality to some degree, but I am doomed to be gruff, goateed, weary Adam Jensen no matter what. He only bends so far. He’s only got so much left to give. I dearly wish I could have designed my own, new augmented spook in DXMD.

Similarly, DXIW knew that the last game’s protagonist story was over. So instead of having us play DX1’s JC Denton again, he was recast in the role of a creepy, even cruel god following his various discoveries and accomplishments in his game’s conclusion. We can argue about the effectiveness of how this was told, sure, but crucially DXIW understood that JC was worn out. Too powerful, too known.

The only way to bring him back would be to reset him, which both undermines everything the player did in DX1 and risks repetition. He can’t pretend not to think that there are conspiracies everywhere anymore, or that augmentations have a suspect history. And yet this is what we have to do with Adam Jensen now.

They could have made him bitter and furious, motivated by outrage, scarred by what had happened to the world as a result of his activities in DXHR (though thus far this has been broadly shrugged off anyway). If he had to come back, there was still the opportunity to make him fresh, a spirit of vengeance rather than just doing it all over again.

Geralt maybe actually does feel something

Or even to do what the Witcher 3 did with Geralt, which was to make his weariness mean something, and most importantly to sparingly show some soul beneath the true grit. I really don’t know if Jensen has a soul. Does the half-android dream of half-electric sheep?

Adam Jensen: Just There.

So far DXMD all but pretends that what he went through previously didn’t happen, in order that it can be a best-selling do-over of a previous best-seller. But Jensen himself doesn’t have a story left to give, so this cannot be a story about him. Instead it’s the story of the world around him, one he no longer seems to have any meaning within. I’m here mostly for the sneaking and stealing, but to give this a couple of dozen hours, I need meaning too. I hope it comes.

I want to continue. I want to like DXMD much more than I do. I want to reach the point where I feel that I have some personal motivation, no matter how silly (because DX was always silly, really). I hope that happens. And I think it wouldn’t matter so much if, in terms of systems and structure, DXMD wasn’t quite so similar to DXHR, despite the fancy graphics and larger-scale environments.

I love those concepts, the stealth vs action tension, falling down the rabbit hole of hacking and sneaking and stealing, and yeah, finding my way into every locked room in my apartment block has been my strongest motivator so far, but they haven’t yet gone anywhere new. This means that I too am going through the motions, just as Adam Jensen is. Alec Meer: Just There.

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  1. BobbyDylan says:

    Totally agree. Feels like an edgy teenager.

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      Oakreef says:

      Judging from his desk at work he also seems to subside on just cereal.

    • Juan Carlo says:

      Yeah, apart from being completely bland as a character (he was even in the first game, I thought), he just seems like someone who was designed via some corporate meeting to deliberately be edgy and cool. Personally, I’d rather have seen (either in Human Revolution or this game) some pencil pushing schlub who’s balding and overweight get caught in an accident and be given augs because he’s smart and knows too much to let die, then suddenly have to deal with being a demi-god. That would have been a way more interesting storyline. But, nope. Instead we get the bland, personality-free, bassist from a late 90s Nu-Metal band that is Adam Jensen.

      • Juan Carlo says:

        In fact, the more I think about it, the more I want to play that game. You are some loser accountant and/or programer, who’s overweight, your wife just dumped you, you have a bad heart and can’t get a date to save your life. You are involved in a freak accident, are given augs for some reason, and suddenly you’re irresistible to the ladies and/or men and have all sorts of power. So what do you do with it? Do you turn into the world’s biggest dick and take it out on all the people who used to stiff you? Or do you use it responsibly?

        I’d play that Deus Ex.

      • Raoul Duke says:

        Allow me to assist. This:

        link to

        link to

        is the art director for Deus Ex 3 and 4. He is a complete edgelord, complete with edgy beard, edgy hairdo, edgy tats, and in interviews, an edgy, DILIGAF ‘tude.

        So when he and his team sit down to design a cool, interesting main character, what a shock that they come up with an equally edgy douche of a main character.

  2. Premium User Badge

    Thulsa Hex says:

    Oof, I have been really looking forward to playing MD, eventually, but these sort of reactions are making me nervous.

    • gpown says:

      Just out of Jensen’s apartment, 2 hours in and I’ve been telling myself “eh, the first mission of HR was a bit wonky as well” but now I realise it actually had something happen. At all.

      • Werthead says:

        HR got criticised for having too linear and non-Deus Exy-an opening. So they decided to do something different for the sequel and have gotten criticsed for that as well. Personally I think they got it right the first time around, it really set up the game well and, despite nodding towards it, this isn’t really an open world franchise, so dumping you in the hub from the off can set up some wrong expectations.

    • TheRealHankHill says:

      I’ve not even started the main mission past going to the doctor and I’m having the time of my life 8 hours in. These people can QQ all they want.

      • Harlequin says:

        People don’t like the game I like! grumble grumble

        • TheRealHankHill says:


          • Unclepauly says:

            Nerve touched

          • TheRealHankHill says:

            “He used capslock and reacted to some snide bs with some more bs, he MUST be nerve-wracked right now. WE DID IT, WE WIN.” Nah, I just hate all of you. A lot.

  3. rommel102 says:

    It sounds like you’ve maybe cover 5% of the main story and spent the vast majority of your time just exploring. And are complaining that the exploring is boring.

    Go play the main story

    • TillEulenspiegel says:

      Yeah, can’t wait until he gets to the “zero difference between good and bad things” dril tweet version of typical videogame grey morality which is the main story.

    • Alec Meer says:

      No, I’m complaining about Adam Jensen. Hopefully the story can succeed despite him.

      • jonahcutter says:

        No, you’re complaining the story doesn’t provide any motivation for Adam Jensen. And perhaps it ultimately doesn’t. Perhaps a bored, sell-out Adam Jensen and police department at the start is the point. But having not played the story, you don’t know. You’re essentially complaining about the story, from a place of ignorance of the story.

        You yourself wonder about this. About how perhaps the game gave you too much freedom too soon. But that you’d likely complain if it didn’t. Thus, creators are sometimes damned if they do and damned if they don’t. Something for critics and players to consider before they declare the creators clueless for not immediately feeding the preconceived notions critics/players have about what constitutes “the best” gameplay and story.

        And I say all that liking a lot of your other observations. About how leaving Jensen alone in the sequel (perhaps with some cameos) might give the overall plot arc more strength. Or at least what some motivations for Jensen could be if he is the player avatar. And how the structure of DX2 played off of DX1, immersing the player more by letting them design their avatar instead of attempting a rinse/repeat.

        Some good observations here. But play through the story before complaining about it.

        • son_of_montfort says:

          Respectfully, I have to agree jonahcutter here. I am nine hours into the game and I have done ONE of the story missions (outside of the Dubai mission, the “reset to square one” and the obligatory “walk to the base” mission). There is no way I would be able to comment on what the story will do to Jensen or how it will justify his demeanor. I certainly would not be able to compare him to the late-game reactions of Geralt in thw Witcher (and I would argue that start-of-the-game Geralt is easily as much of a deadpan blank slate as DXMD Jensen). I am fine with this sort of assessment, but it would feel more informative and accurate had it been written after the game was finished. I, for one, like the Jensen character and feel like he is almost too much like JC at times.

          • Graham Smith says:

            The complaint is that the story isn’t doing enough in the early game to make you care, and that part of the reason for that is that Jensen seems to have no real reason to care about much of what’s going on. (“Make me care now, not later.”) That’s a totally valid complaint after seven hours of play.

            Also, as the editor, I checked this piece over and I’ve completed the game. The complaints here hold true after 40 hours and doing every main and side mission.

            In DXHR, Jensen had Megan, he had friends, he had a boss who’d cut off his legs for no good reason, he had a local cop who he used to work with. All of these things offered lenses through which to understand him and for the player to define him. Now he has… occasional phone calls with his former boss?

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            gritz says:

            I’d just like to point out that the first scene in The Witcher 3 involves a naked Geralt pulling an enormous magical crab off of his junk.

            The notion that he’s some kind of grim blank slate in the early game is nonsense.

          • michelangelo says:

            I also think, that this was written way too soon and Alecs scepticism could be turn up side down after whole game gives some shape to opinion and load arguments to support it. But reaction from Graham just wiped out that tiny piece of hope I had. Despite my feeling of “way too more of the same” based on Mankind Devided fragments seen so far.

            Deus Ex series is love (with some , ehm/3th one, exceptions). And I still tend to use Human Revolution as shining example of, how to bring back old days game awesomeness (facepalming Thief “revision” with it), but this new piece of Deus Ex mosaic (?) — well, I’d rather read its plot, as summary report, over hacked device, in the next Deus Ex game, which will be amazing(!).

            There, I will be playing person from the other side of barricade. Someone with really sad and unfair history, that gave him/her reasons to be on that particular side. But through That game events experience, point of view will be change and decisions like actually turning against, what he/she was part of, will become relevant. Character like Yelena Fedorova. Yeah.

          • Geebs says:

            I honestly Megan counts as a good example of character motivation. She doesn’t get established properly before disappearing for the entire game and DXHR doesn’t ever manage to do anything with her. The only thing to recommend her character in the entire game is that she manages to start and maintain a relationship with Naked Muscle Guy despite his obvious…..shortcomings.

          • son_of_montfort says:

            I still disagree and stand by my criticism that this was written too early. In some ways, it would be like watching 45 minutes of Star Wars: A New Hope and complaining that Luke’s whining does not draw you in.

            Also, I have to say, my Adam Jensen has drawn me in. This is an RPG, so my Adam is motivated by infiltrating and not getting caught, never using lethal force (unless he has to), protecting the free press, and to uncovering any info he can by hacking or other peaceful methods. Did the voice actor do any of that? No – because I am playing the game and choosing the motivations.

            Also, in response to the Geralt thing – being able to be naked and sexualized does not mean he isn’t a blank slate (crab or no crab).

          • Daemoroth says:

            I think it’s a combination really. Yes, Alec is killing the pace of the game by trying to rob Prague blind (As is tradition in all open-world games. :P) and I sometimes have to force myself to stop that and get the story going (Usually as soon as I feel a sense of boredom).

            But Adam has nothing, no friends, no contacts, no mission, he’s surrounded by a bunch of arseholes and suffering SEVERELY selective amnesia:

            How does he not remember that conspiracies existed, and could continue to exist? Why on earth is he continuing down this path and giving me only these options to respond in the conversation? Doesn’t he watch news, or remember who Eliza Cassan is? Is he SO dense that he can’t see where this is going?

            PS – Being deliberately vague to avoid spoiling things.

        • KNIVES says:

          I wish steam would let me get rid of RPS from their newfeed so id never have to read another shit article again.
          There always seems to be useless bitching about games here

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            Cross says:

            And yet you care enough to click the link and comment (probably) without reading the article. Live and let live, or comment properly.

          • saillc says:

            I had to necro your comment just to let you know how insanely stupid it is. You wish steam would quit putting the articles on the page so you wouldn’t have to read them, but you dont have to read them. You clicked it.

      • lurkalisk says:

        I don’t know if this is a good or bad thing, but I think you touched weirdly specifically on why Adam is important to the narrative.
        “I really don’t know if Jensen has a soul.”
        Maybe I’m making things up without realizing it, but it strikes me as intentional that we might question his humanity at this point in the story.

        • HarrisonPudding says:

          lurkalisk had a pretty rational way to look at what might be poor acting and terrible writing–He is a meta of the game title. Mankind divided but also within because Jensen moves ever further from love and relationships as the other side forces more barriers to exist freely. Sound familiar? If not, just pretend Jensen can’t accept his own lack of humanity or is rejecting the “real” humans and embracing the nothing to get through the poop sandwich he ate last time. Then you can muddle through, feel like the money was reasonably well spent, and complain until end times the second play through:)

      • NotGodot says:

        Jensen’s motivations make a lot more sense after you’ve finished the game. There’s a last-minute plot twist that recontextualizes all of his actions, particularly his need to find Janus. Going back over the game’s story with it in mind, Jensen makes a lot more sense.

        All the pieces are set up beforehand if you do side-quests, but it still comes mid-credits. If the rumours about MD being the first part of a trilogy made out of narrative/art/etc originally dreamed up for one game are true, it probably would have been a less frustrating ordeal if it hadn’t been split.

  4. dongsweep says:

    I think post Witcher 3 most RPG’s are going to feel a bit hollow. It is rare a game makes such a strong central character for you to play – I think that is the result of multiple games, books that fleshed out his character, and an honest attempt to keep that persona himself.

    • Sandepande says:

      Oddly enough, I found Geralt so uninteresting, that I uninstalled Witcher 3 after 17 hours.

      Go figure.

      • Rizlar says:

        Your loss.

        • Sandepande says:

          I don’t think so. As a game, it was OK, but didn’t tickle any of my fancies that much, and since I couldn’t get involved with the story or the characters, the whole exercise seemed pointless.

          I’ll give it another try sometime in the future. Perhaps I’ll get past uninteresting Geralt and the uninteresting gritty fantasy world he inhabits.

          It does feel a bit strange, seeing all the praise showered on the game and not getting it. And I have 454 hours of Skyrim logged in… TW3 should be right up my alley.

          • Zenicetus says:

            The thing about Geralt is that he has friends, family, relationships that help define him. Things he cares about. Witcher 3’s plot is basically all about those extended family relationships. The game rewards an effort to understand who he is, and who those people are.

            I can also understand being put off by what Geralt looks like on the surface, but if you invest some effort in understanding and role-playing him, it really pays off in the end.

            By comparison, Jensen (so far in my game anyway) is a complete lone wolf, with no relationships to help define him. Not even the sketch of a girlfriend from the last game. It still works as a simple power fantasy because his tool box is cool, but the game could have been better if I knew who he was, and what he cared about.

          • montorsi says:

            Yeah, likewise, though I think Geralt evolved away from me more than anything else. TW1 Geralt was this new and cool thing and by TW3 he was streamlined into an utterly boring character devoid of his old Eastern European flavor.

            I don’t have the patience for that nor the unending onslaught of fetch this, fetch that, go here, be my damned gofer boy, thanks and here’s a few bits for your time, oh and let’s maim this person or that so you really understand how edgy we are.

          • fearandloathing says:

            Skyrim is nothing like Witcher, at the best loving one is a good indicator that you won’t love the other.

          • MultiVaC says:

            It’s funny, I started off in The Witcher 3 without caring too much about Geralt and his crew and was really only driven forward by the interesting world and sidequests. But by the end of the game I wound up so attached to him and his story that the ending sequence had me almost in tears. I think there’s a good reason the game gets such high praise in writing, there really is a lot to him behind the sort of generic gruffness.

          • Rizlar says:

            @Sandepande: perhaps not. MultiVaC’s comment is what I had in mind though, Geralt may seem like a boring sarcastic arse at the start but his character is revealed in all sorts of ways throughout the game. Maybe having played the previous Witchers I was already tuned in and could immediately appreciate how much better TW3 is. Understanding his relationships with various characters definitely helps.

            17hrs seems like a substantial amount of play time but who knows, you could yet be surprised.

          • Fnord73 says:

            Get thyself to Novigrad, is all im saying.

          • Booker says:

            Yeah well Skyrim is soulless shit, so…

          • KNIVES says:

            Skyrim and TW3 share the RPG genre but both play vastly different, so just because you love one doesnt mean youll love the other.

  5. Rizlar says:

    Definitely, in the first game you knew exactly who Jensen was, the motivations, why it had to be him. In this one, nothing.

    Having only just finished HR a few weeks ago I see that he is lacking a bit of character in other ways too – in HR his mouth was a sort of sarcastic slash, it emphasised his grimaces and humourless smirking. Gone, in MD. His new cyber-shades cover his eyebrows, which may be deliberate but blocks a lot of expression.

    Still had some great moments in the game showing a bit of character through action, even if it doesn’t all hang together that well in terms of plot. How you choose to deal with the dodgy police officer you meet early on can get pretty interesting…

  6. Zenicetus says:

    Yeah, I’ve been describing Jensen as basically just a walking tool kit in comments here. It’s frustrating not to have any real reason to invest in the characterization. The voice acting doesn’t help either, because every time he opens his mouth he sounds like Clint Eastwood, and most of his kick-ass movie characters had more personality than this.

    As for caring about the outside world and events, I’m a little over 20 hours in, just arriving in the first area you go to outside Prague. At this point, there’s a lot of in-your-face showcasing of the misery of augs in a ghetto, and I’m getting the impression the game will eventually want me to choose sides.

    There is also the whodunnit hook of the bombing mystery, where Jensen is playing detective-at-large and not necessarily just for Interpol with that hacker woman involved. They could have fleshed out that story better. I don’t know who she is, or why Jensen is working with her. But maybe that mystery will be enough to keep things rolling.

    • NotGodot says:

      She’s a leftover from a failed brand strategy is what she is. The original plan when they split the sequel to HR into three games was to use smaller games, like Deus Ex: The Fall to fill in blanks and introduce secondary characters.

  7. mika76 says:

    Uhm the story allows you to control how Adam responds. It’s up to you to make him interesting. That’s Deus Ex.

    • TheRealHankHill says:

      Exactly lol. I think these people are lazy if they think exploring is boring, the notes and ebooks/emails are packed with good stuff.

    • ooshp says:

      I kinda agree with this. I think the problem is that the characters around Adam are so poorly developed (or not developed at all) it doesn’t give you a reason to invest in them – Adam himself doesn’t need to be particularly interesting if the player gets to choose who to invest their time in.

      Like the Mass Effect 2 crew.

      There’s a bunch of interesting emails to read, but they’re pretty much all relying on DX1 knowledge to get the ‘in joke’. The new characters are all just… meh.

      Being a dreary walking toolbox never hurt Batman’s career, after all. Totally relies on the supporting cast every time.

    • Ulgokiem says:

      He already addressed that when he said he could somewhat direct Jensen’s personality. Sure you can have him help someone, but he’s still incredibly dull, gruff and monotone when he does it. You can have him care in one sentence about the oppression augmented people are facing, but as soon as the regular script picks up he’s back to being apathetic at best.

  8. Rogerio Martins says:

    He never asked for any of it man, he has the right to not care.

  9. gabrielonuris says:

    Not trying to be bitter here, but I think the first Deus Ex was “better” because at that time we didn’t need to overthink the protagonist, or NPCs, or environments, etc. We just had fun with what we got.

    I know some games really pushes to hard in an excess of exposition, forcing us to love the writing and characters, forgetting that by doing this, it’s actually indulcing rolling eyes reactions and a mass-cringe over the player base. But not DXMD, I think it’s a rather well developed game.

  10. thetruegentleman says:

    [Early Game Spoilers Be Here, So Be Warned]

    Jensen being above everyone else *is exactly the point*, and is exactly why he’s necessary, as Jensen is supposed to be the best of all worlds: he doesn’t need expensive medicine to keep his body from killing itself, he’s pretty much above all the law legally thanks to his status as an Interpol agent (which, as the radio guy says, allows him to break into pretty much anyone’s home and do whatever as long as he can connect them to terrorism in any way), his augmentations put almost everyone at his mercy, he has intimate knowledge of the global conspiracies, and as far as everyone knows, he’s got nobody people can threaten to keep him in line.

    Despite all this though, he has reason to be bitter: he keeps trying to change the world for the better, only for new problems to come up out of the old problem’s ashes, and that’s left him jaded. Look at the bomb scene: he was there, and he couldn’t save a single person despite his powers. Everything he does that looks like a success ends ultimately in failure; so while he has empathy for the other Augs, he’s too beaten down to believe he can save them.

    This makes him an ironic echo of the Illuminati: while they try to make the world better by pulling at the strings of society, he’s trying to make the world better by working the streets, and *both of them are failing*. They have to, because the world of the original Deus Ex is a pretty awful place, which is why people were willing to go as far as blowing up the internet or fusing with a machine god to make it better.

    On a final note, while his apartment room is nice, he still lives in a broken down ghetto swarming with police and checkpoints, and he can’t legally live anywhere else. He might not share the same level of suffering as all the other Augs, but he still gets called names on the streets, harassed by cops, and is kept arms length by his colleagues (none of whom are even willing to risk having lunch with him), the only exception being a woman who was forced to have augs because of an injury, which has practically killed her career. His life is definitely not an enviable one.

    • fearandloathing says:

      Well this comment is much informing then the article, and last paragraph completely nullifies in it. Good writing.

      • Unclepauly says:

        Spoilers are always going to be “much informing” vs non-spoilers, don’t you think?

        • misterT0AST says:

          Yes. Spoilers really always add layers to the superficial statements that could be made without them. They really are a big plus and a big difference, every time.

    • Premium User Badge

      cbn says:

      Yeah there’s reasons to care, but he doesn’t. His emotional range varies from mildly inconvenienced to distantly disapproving.

      I’m disappointed the game sets up another sequel with this…used teabag?

      • hjarg says:

        Emotional range? Pheh, it’s the actions that define a man. Not how emotional he gets. Jensen cares, but doesn’t care to show that he cares.
        I kinda like his complete lack of outward emotions.

    • malkav11 says:

      Not only does he not save anyone in the bombing, but the cutscene is framed in such a way that I swear he lifts a big chunk of concrete off a woman’s arm and sets it down on top of her body, which can’t have helped her survive.

      • Zenicetus says:

        I saw that differently. There’s a kid crying about his Mom under the hunk of concrete. Jensen lifts it up, sees she’s dead and tells the kid “sorry,” then lowers it back down to spare the kid the sight. Not exactly a deep moment but it made sense.

    • Valkyrie1094 says:

      Honestly this is par for the course for the series, In the original game JC Denton’s reaction for seeing a brutal murder of an innocent hotel owner by a gang member was “What a shame” followed by “what a rotten way to die” in monotone even when finding out his helicopter was rigged to explode he did the infamous “A BOMB!”. JC wasn’t very emotional at all, threatening death always in that flat voice. As an intresting character Jensen is better because at least he has a backstory and a better motivation.

  11. Deviija says:

    Goodness, I couldn’t agree more. A huge part of what makes Deus Ex so utterly dull and boring is because Jensen is back and being even more stoic, gruff, dull, boring and generic protagonist than ever. There is zero connection. Even with shifts in tonality and personality disposition, he still manages to suck the life out of everything around him. And still be dull and empty. The overwrought and 90’s edgy teenager writing doesn’t help matters at all either.

  12. Giaddon says:

    Not exactly spoilers, all explained in the first thirty minutes, but skip the below if you want to go in blind.

    Maybe you missed it in the opening cutscenes, but Jensen is fighting the Illuminati, who he knows unleashed the Aug Incident. He suspects Task Force 29 is being controlled by the Illuminati. He’s embedded with them as a double agent working with the Juggernaut Collective (who are under-explained in the opening hours, admittedly) in an attempt to expose TF29, and find a way to block the Illuminati’s plan to control the augmented (and, eventually, unaugmented) population. I agree that a new character would have been the better, but I thought the double-agent thing was a solid hook, and Jensen’s goal of fighting the Illuminati follows from the events of the first game.

    • Zenicetus says:

      Under-explaining why he’s working with the Collective right at the start of the game is a fairly major flaw, I think. I’m 20+ hours in, and I still have no idea how that happened, or why Jensen would choose that particular alliance.

      It feels like something was cut from the early part of the game. Probably just poor writing, but it still feels that way.

      • DarkFenix says:

        Considering I didn’t get the DLC for Human Revolution, I had no idea who the Juggernaut Collective even were or why I was supposed to be working for them.

        I figured out that they’re meant to be the good guys based on Deus Ex 1 references more than anything else (that and it’s certainly no accident that their initials are JC).

      • Werthead says:

        That’s all actually set up in a book, Deus Ex: Black Light. It tells the story of Adam recovering from the end of HR, heading back to Detroit, hooking up with Frank Pritchard (that sarcastic cyber security guy from the first guy) and getting involved with the Juggernaut Collective.

        That’s fine, but perhaps the game shouldn’t have relied on it quite so much for non-readers or maybe the game should have recapped the book along with the events of the first game.

        • Creeping Death says:

          Well now I need to ask… is that book any good? :P

          • Werthead says:

            No idea. James Swallow also writes a lot of WH40K books and from his reviews he seems to be okay.

          • PampleMoose says:

            I’m about to read it. It looks pretty short tho, so that’s kinda disappointing. I’ll let you know how it is, though I suspect it’s just going to be a straight up filler between HR and MD. I got mine as an ebook with my Day One edition of the game.

            The other (full length) novel, Icarus Effect, was quite good, involving characters from The Fall. Definitely worth reading. I found it more interesting than I’ve found the MD plot so far.

    • Thurgret says:

      I basically forgot most of this and just took him to be a guy working to counter terrorism. The whole collective thing does nothing to make itself relevant in my eyes as a player. Maybe I just wasn’t paying enough attention.

  13. Bostec says:

    I read your piece.

    I have no opinion on it.

    I was.



    • Aetylus says:

      Aaaw… I read the piece and though it was bloody marvelous. Proper RPS. A detailed critique of a particular part of a a gaming experience. Full of opinion, and balanced with substantiation. Subjectivity at it’s finest.

  14. Ghoul Monkey says:

    I very much disagree. Adam Jensen’s lack of inflection and stoicism is at the very heart of the Deus Ex experience. Remember Mr. “My Vision is Augmented”? The reluctance, lack of inflection, are all there to empower you as the player. AJ is the vessel through which you experience and unravel the inner-workings of this world. Want to jump head-first into the conspiracy? It’s right there. Want to putz around and rob places completely out of character or context? Go ahead (but don’t complain about it; own it).

    I think that we have developed this overriding meta-game in the last couple of generation of gaming where we would (sometimes purposefully and flauntingly) ignore the direction in which the game is pointing us at, and instead dive into hours of dawdle in search for secrets and discoveries. Want me to here, game? Ha! I shall go here, instead! Watch me as I’m breaking into this store instead of following directions!

    What I am loving most about DXMD (and as both a game and a world, it is truly wonderful in my opinion), is how banal it makes this effort. The world is huge, the vents are many, and you are free to literally and figuratively lost yourself in them. But without context, infused by either your motivations as you roleplay Mr. Jensen, or by the world’s story, there can be little meaning to your experiences.

    That’s what the original Deus Ex was all about, and it is reinvisioned so wonderfully here.

  15. The Algerian says:

    Pretty sure I’m going to feel the exact same way with the new Dishonored.

    • Werthead says:

      I think having two characters, one of them the young princess you spent the first game trying to save, will mix things up quite a lot over Dishonored 1 and other games.

      I was impressed with Dishonored’s DLC and how it had you play one of the villains from the first game. That sort of POV experimentation is something that games should do a lot more of.

    • Premium User Badge

      Grizzly says:

      I am optimistic about that. Partly because D2 has plenty of space to describe Corvo’s character (For reasons that should be obvious) and partly because Emily and Corvo have been given reasons to care already: They have lost control over their empire/Kaldwin’s legacy.

  16. Steravel says:

    His beard is overwrought.

  17. waltC says:

    Excellent points–I feel the same way. Geralt matters to me because many things matter to Geralt and his character lives, breathes, and feels–has opinions & preferences. Jensen I’ll pass on because he is two-dimensional and he’s an affectation as opposed to a “real” person. He’s more like a prop than a human being. Games are like books or movies in that regard–the best games feature characters you can’t forget as opposed to characters you can’t remember. Adding in a dimension of humanity is harder than than avoiding it, of course. The original Deus X was limited by the tech of the period–I don’t think Jensen fits, really.

  18. aircool says:

    As someone who only played the first game when it came out, I quite like the new JC Denton (can never remember his proper name, and I guess that’s somewhat the point of the article).

    But because of his personality, I can do something I very rarely do in games, which is play as a heartless, cynical, world weary bastard.

    When I happened to pay a visit to a certain underground casino and my conversation didn’t go to well, I was forced to leave. But I did return some time later ready for a fight. The first person to see me was a waitress, but before she could raise the alarm, she was nailed to the bar with a shaft of sharp carbon.

    JC is just blank enough for me to stamp some personality onto him via the game. I don’t really care about every one else’s problems and it makes quite the change from the norm.

    It is funny though that my other half mentioned Geralt as in, ‘he reminds me of Geralt but without the effort’.

  19. Utsunomiya says:

    He’s got great voice.
    He can stay.

  20. Stevie_D says:

    Story or not – he is a shallow, useless character; without much in the way of personality or depth.
    He was a “This guy looks cool.” concept drawing, and they forgot to add a proper background, personality, or interest to him. “Give him a husky voice, that’ll make him cool to the kids.”
    But a voice alone doesn’t make a character interesting.

    This is what makes the Witcher stand out. Geralt isn’t just a gruff voice. He is a gnarly old goat. Set in his ways, with a lot of stories to tell, and a lot of hidden quirks to him.

    You can write about 5 pages about who Geralt is, and what made him who he is, after 3 games.
    You’re lucky if you can write 1 paragraph after 2 of Adam Jensen.
    That’s the sign of a weak character.

    • Werthead says:

      The presentation of Geralt in the games (well, the third one, the writing in the first two was not great) is certainly more interesting than AJ, but then again CD Projekt had 23 years and eight books worth of backstory and characters they inherited from Andrej Sapkowski. 10/10 for their presentation of the character, but they had an enormous amount of the heavy lifting done for them in terms of backstory, motivation and supporting cast. It feels a little unfair to compare him to a character Eidos Montreal had to create themselves from thin air and was probably designed by committee.

      • Unclepauly says:

        “Thin air” These two games are sequels.

        • Unclepauly says:

          I meant prequels.

        • Werthead says:

          The world existed in the previous DE games, but this is a completely different, much more embryonic version of it and they had to create a lot of the details of this early version of the setting themselves. But we know the direction they’re heading in (assuming they are going to dovetail into DE and IW and this isn’t a stealth reboot or alternate timeline kind of deal).

          That doesn’t really have anything to do with Jenson though. He’s a completely original character created for these two games. Geralt was a massively popular character with a couple of thousand pages of written material for him long before CD Projekt made the first game.

    • Raoul Duke says:

      “He was a “This guy looks cool.” concept drawing”

      Plus he doesn’t even look cool. He is presumably ‘cool’ to the same people who make professional extreme sports a thing, or who worked on the character design for Watch Dogs. To the rest of us, he looks like a deeply self-interested, preening tool.

  21. CartonofMilk says:

    The only reason i think why i couldnt’ get into Withcer 3 past th initial 10 houra ro so is because i don’t give a shit abotu Geralt. he already has a story, a backstory, complex relationships with other characters and i’m expected to care and give a shit. i didn’t. Hell i even went to read the plot of the first two games seeing if i could make sense of who is who and realised some of those people were never EVEN in the first two games but did appear in the books. I like games to be telling my story, not someone else’s. The role playing in rpg has to allow for me to play MY role. Not just have a bit of a say in someone else’s story.

    I find it hard to accept in this day and age that most games are still essentially little more than interactive novels or films.

    • Sandepande says:

      This was part of my problem with Geralt as well. Too much baggage.

    • FriendlyFire says:

      Role-playing means playing *a* role, not *your* role necessarily. You prefer the Elder Scrolls school of thought: blank slate characters without personality or recognizable traits. I much prefer the Witcher way, where the characters are actual characters with their own motives and you as the player get to become the character, to play as them.

      Both are entirely acceptable ways of doing things. To say that one is not an RPG is myopic.

      • Steravel says:

        Role-playing means playing *a* role, not *your* role necessarily.

        Just so you know, this statement is the preamble to to one of the most insipid discussions in internet game discussions–“What is an RPG?”

        Here’s what comes next: “I play a role in in Super Mario Brothers…must be an RPG”.

        I advise you to get out now, and be content with the reality that we generally know RPGs when we see them, except when we don’t, at which point we argue about semantics until everyone involved hates life, runs home and punches their cats.

        Don’t be a cat-puncher. Don’t try to define RPGs.

  22. Rogerio Martins says:

    I miss characters like JC, he was such a deep well full of emotions.

  23. JCJensen says:

    Why is RPS so negative about this game (aside from Graham)? And why do they keep writing articles about that NMS turd?

    • Zenicetus says:

      This article wasn’t completely negative about the entire game, just this one aspect of Jensen’s personality (or lack of it). I read it as more of a lost opportunity gripe.

      There are some cool things in the game. The protagonist just isn’t one of them.

      • JCJensen says:

        Aside from overall positive review, there isn’t a single article on RPS showing some kind of praise or enthusiasm about the new Deus Ex. Especially, Alec’s articles were full of criticisms about this and that, and he seemed almost bothered that he has to play it. John Walker is writing about some technical difficulties.. and that’s it.

        But, the important thing here is that there’s five articles a day about No Man’s Sky telling us how they enjoy it, how wonderful it is, etc.

    • Werthead says:

      I’m 10 hours in and it’s a very fine game. I don’t think – so far anyway – it’s as strong as Human Revolution though, which is a problem. I think people wanted this one to improve on it and the fact it does so in fairly minor ways (graphics, natch, and no boss fights) whilst suffering in comparison from characters, pacing and plot is a bit disappointing.

      It’s still a bloody good game though. And one area I do think it improves on the first game quite substantially is level design. The way some of the locations are laid out and how you can explore any way you please is quite impressive.

  24. LionsPhil says:

    If you think JC was flat, you need to play the original again. He was deadpan, but he wasn’t dead. Guy had a serious snark to him, and dialogue options tended to be pretty ideologically driven.

    Which goes double for the comments.

    • Rogerio Martins says:

      Dude was as empty template as they come, there WERE some ideological driven dialogue choices, but mostly I bet were just projected by you, since the character was created to reflect that.

      I loved the Original, I still think it had a superior story, just that Morpheus AI dialogue puts it above most games out there, but in terms of protagonists the new games are better and a little more deep, even if that doesn’t mean much.

      • Premium User Badge

        HothMonster says:

        There is a lets play with Warren Spector and some of the original devs for Deus Ex 1 where they mention making sure to add plenty of snark because they didn’t want to assume the player gave a shit about the story or other peoples problems.

    • Sin Vega says:

      Thank you. It mystifies me that people have let a few infamous lines (what a bomb, etc) revise the entire game as “JC was a blank nothing”. Plus it was clear that he actually cared about things, he was almost comically sincere at times. Adam Deus Ex is just growly sulky douchebeardman most of the time. And he’s not strong enough to hold a series, whatever the public’s perception – looking exactly the same as every other gruff po-faced brownhair is less of a selling point than the marketing people clearly thought. They wasted a good opportunity, frankly.

      • Premium User Badge

        alison says:

        Agree. JC “my vision is augmented” Denton was endearingly earnest. He reminds me of David Bowie. I’ve played through Human Revolution a few times now and I never saw Adam Jensen as anything more than a generic tough guy. Meh.

        I know I’m going to sound like a broken record here, but I wish more people went back and played Deus Ex: The Fall. Eidos Montréal had such a great character in Ben Saxon and it’s unfortunate that we only got one episode of him. It was so fun to experience the Deus Ex world through the eyes of one of the faceless soldiers you are normally taking out. And from the very first cutscene he expresses concern for a fellow human being and establishes a solid motivation for exposing the conspiracy. Exploring this guy more is such a missed opportunity.

    • Raoul Duke says:

      Yep. Can only assume people who think JC had no personality mistake “vocal tone” for “content of speech”.

      He was intensely earnest and direct, but the actual content of what he talked to people about was very interesting and, as you say, he actually cared about stuff and had motivations driving him.

  25. Monggerel says:

    Coincidentally (?) I just watched Blade Runner for the first time (seemed apposite) when Mankind Dividends came out.

    It was not the worst movie I’ve seen recently, but only because it had absolutely, stunningly gorgeous visuals, set design, aesthetics, music, etc.
    However, everything that wasn’t part of what the art team did, was a complete, stinking, shameful failure. Every scene was dripping with purpose, with unstated but crucial information, with details that drive towards a greater understanding of what is happening…
    and it’s all for nothing.
    It is a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.
    Blade Runner wants to say something about humans but it has never seen one. Never met one. Never realised that somewhere, under all that smarm and empty platitude about the beauty of life, about the heart-wrenching tragedy of death, there must be a human who needs to be – *has* to be – heard.
    It’s all window dressing, no window and no house. Beautiful and completely shallow. Pure fetishism. Doubly perverted, because it knows it can peddle counterfeit coinage and get away with it, because its audience is illiterate.
    Fuck Blade Runner.

    Maybe it was a bad idea to watch Blade Runner right after Taxi Driver and Terminator 2 and Scarface (long day with nothing to do). Maybe that brutal contrast is what ruined the movie for me, and I might have enjoyed it more in a different context. I will never know and now I feel it has tainted not only my opinion of the movie itself, but of Cyberpunk as a whole, which is fucked. Kind of liberating though. Like finally getting rid of a cold that has bugged you for a month.

    On another note, I never felt much of anything for Deus Ex, so at least I don’t feel bad hearing about the new one being a stinker.

    • Steravel says:

      I just watched Blade Runner for the first time […]Never realised that somewhere, under all that smarm and empty platitude about the beauty of life, about the heart-wrenching tragedy of death,

      No. In my opinion you have missed the point of the BR themes. Unless you made the mistake of watching the theatrical cut? Don’t do that. Watch the Final Cut, or failing that, the Directors Cut. Ford’s phone-in narrative was shoehorned in by nervous studio execs, and is notoriously off the mark in its summation.

      • Steravel says:

        *”narrative”= narration

      • Monggerel says:

        I left out a bit where I pre-emptively insulted anyone trying to tell me to watch the right version (I did).
        The platitude complaint was not about some (non-existent in this version) bit of shitty voice-over. The complaint was about the actual characters and themes of the movie, who and which angered me even more because it was *not* a matter of execution, of something lacking in ability, that was missing. I don’t even believe a movie needs to have a “soul” (insert your preferred terms here) to be abso-fucking-lutely fantastic – Drive for instance is a brilliant piece of despicable garbage. Blade Runner *does* have a soul, and it is about an inch deep and its sole occupation is masturbation and the acquisition of masturbation accessories.

        On the other hand, I word-for-word knew what drive-by comment to expect from a random fan who happened to notice that I disliked the movie, (no comments at all seemed more likely though) so thanks for making me feel real smart.

        • Monggerel says:

          The moment I said “oh FUCK you” out loud was at Roy Batty’s famous little speech about the Tannhäuser C-Sections. That was when I said “yep, ok, my mind is made, THIS is what constitutes a masterpiece, and I don’t need to know what is and isn’t a masterpiece anymore”.

          So in the end, in a roundabout way, Blade Runner was an inspirational experience that taught me something useful, and for that I’m actually grateful.

        • Steravel says:

          I’m uncertain why you’re so hostile. I don’t care if you like the movie. But your summation of the BR themes is simply wrong, and I was giving you the benefit of the doubt by assuming you had gleaned them from the Ford narration in the theatrical cut where he does surmise that Batty had saved his life for some sort of silly reason like “he valued life so much”. That narration has been denounced by both the director and the actor who performed it.

          Because otherwise, I don’t understand where you’re getting this bit from:

          under all that smarm and empty platitude about the beauty of life,

          Where does Blade Runner ever go on about the “Beauty of Life”? Is life portrayed as particularly beautiful in that movie’s dystopian setting? Do any of the characters (including the protagonist), with their eyes capturing glassy, doll-like reflections, seem particularly happy or enthralled by their lives? Or do they seem like half-formed people with an almost child like mental age, going through the motions of what they *think* life and love should be like? That love scene was awkward for a reason.

          Much was made over the issue of whether or not Deckard was a replicant. Personally, I don’t think Scott ever made the case for why that should be so in the text or subtext, even though he was happy to claim the “twist” afterward. He cobbled together subsequent cuts of the film supporting that idea, but never really made the case of *why* it should be so.

          In any event, I don’t think it’s important. The important question isn’t whether Deckard is a replicant, but rather whether he is a *murderer*. Musings on the nature of what constitutes life in science fiction may be old hat now, but in 1982 cinema, they were very fresh. You’ve got to be able to appreciate things in proper context.

          As to the question of why Roi saves Deckard at the end of the film, it’s left delightfully ambiguous. “Because life is beautiful and death is a tragedy” would definitely be utterly banal, but the movie doesn’t really support either of those assertions. Roi doesnt value life that much through the entire film, but he does value his own existence, again evoking the “what is life” questions. In the end I choose to believe that Roi saves Deckard not because “life is precious and beautiful”, but because he knows that no matter what he isn’t getting off that rooftop, and he just wants to continue in whatever fashion is available to him, as we all do through children, or artistic output, or in the memory of a beaten down gumshoe/assassin.

    • aircool says:

      For a moment there I thought I was reading an amateur review of the movie on IMDB.

      Plus, you missed the most important thing about Blade Runner. In 2019 we will have flying cars, but people will still use payphones!

      Perhaps Blade Runner does feel very different these days. I think I first saw it in ’85 when I was about 13 years of age. I thought it was terrific.

      However, Terminator 2 is shit!

    • Cheradanine Zakalwe says:

      I haven’t seen the movie in a long time, but the book, I feel, knows humanity intimately. My heart breaks when hes told the owl isn’t real. His relationship with his wife is tragic is the most normal and everyday way. I actually think taxi driver is a great accompanying film to watch with it because both have the struggle for humanity.

      I’d recommend checking out the book. Its very short, and I think its definitely one of dick’s best.

    • Raoul Duke says:

      You don’t like Deus Ex, and you don’t like Blade Runner. You have what is known as terrible taste in everything.

  26. Smoof says:

    No, Alec.

    Jensen, like JC Denton before him, is a blank protagonist. He isn’t meant to have any character, like Neo from the Matrix, because you are supposed to inject yourself into him. The only way they could make this more obvious is to go the Ultima route and simply call him “Avatar.”

    He has no personality and emotions, because he’s supposed to be a vessel for you, your personality, your ideals, your emotions.

    • Rizlar says:

      Is that why the Matrix sequels were shit as well?

    • Zenicetus says:

      He wasn’t an empty vessel in the last game. He had relationships that were developed with his boss, his ex-partner, his girlfriend. Plus revenge motives. You could see what was driving him.

      I think it’s reasonable to ask why he’s such a blank slate this time around. Shell-shock? Change in attitude for some reason? Why? It’s just never explained.

      • Rizlar says:

        Truthfully he isn’t a blank slate in this game either. He expresses really strong opinions on certain subjects, sometimes jarringly so, often without player prompting. Lack of personality and motivation does not necessarily = blank slate.

      • Booker says:

        It’s explained and there is even a quest about it.

    • Premium User Badge

      gritz says:

      But there’s an inherent conflict between doing that and having a character-driven game.

    • Raoul Duke says:

      JC Denton was not a blank protagonist.

  27. Ariandel says:

    I have to incredibly politely disagree.

    Adam may seem dry, but it’s more just the person he is, shaped by the experiences he had in life. From his parents being conveniently ACCIDENT’d to his SWAT superior becoming augmented (and morally bankrupt) after Jensen saved his life to becoming augmented himself, Adam’s life is built on tragedy. Without a cry for attention, I know what that’s like, and you become stoic real damn fast.

    But he cares. I just want you to keep with it and hit the sidequests. Particularly The Harvester. You can make Adam care so damn much it’s almost sickening.

    Elias Toufexis did a bang up job with Jensen in HR and MD, I think. He’s gruff and stoic, but the layers of fear and pain and a desire for the truth and justice are there.

    Also, you said Jensen didn’t care about his augs. Did you choose the diagloue options to ask about them? It becomes a whole long, long sidequest involving Sarif and the two years since HR. That seems like a whole lot of caring to me.

  28. fearandloathing says:

    How can you expect a character to develop if you don’t follow the story? And comparisons with Geralt is null (and annoying), W3 is “W3:The Adventures of Ciri&Geralt”, MD seems more like,you know, “Deus Ex:Mankind Divided”, and what you demand(a personal storyline) can be easily detrimental if you consider their primary goal is to portray the world. And it’s annoying how having a (already in character with established relations etc.) protagonist would get you criticized as restrictive pre-w3&telltale, and now it’s exactly the opposite and it’s derided in the same shallow way.
    *Also,almost all of the people going on and on about awesomeness of Geralt’s portrayal don’t know their shit, simply because they haven’t read the books while the game relies heavily on them, so their praises carry little value, and I’m saying this as a huge fan.

  29. preshrunk_cyberpunk says:

    I expect the character I’m playing in a game to have SOME connection to events playing out around him/her BUT I don’t expect that character to be the center of all those events or be even remotely connected to all of them.

    Regarding empathy….I can empathize with people around me, but that doesn’t mean that I always, without fail, express that empathy. I cant go through my life having an overly emotional response to EVERYTHING.

    I don’t like Adam Jensen’s beard in MD or his silly jacket. Other than that, no major complaints.

    Also I quite agree with Smoof above me.

    • preshrunk_cyberpunk says:

      And with Ariandel as well.

      • aircool says:

        There must be something to the blank slate theory as I’m playing him as someone who’s given up caring. Sure, now and then I might throw someone a bone, but at the same time I kill. No being shot or punched into the land of nod with me. No such thing as innocent bystanders when they’re likely to panic and attract the coppers. As for that guy who was sitting at a terminal I needed to use? I made sure the door was closed before breaking his neck.

        After clearing an underground gambling den in a particularly vicious shotgun binge, I saw the last surviving waitress crying in a corner… she looked up at me.. ‘please don’t kill me’. I had one round left in the shotgun.

        I didn’t even bother to search the body.

  30. MultiVaC says:

    I’m kind of at a similar point in game progress (I haven’t even planted that chip thing for the very first real story mission, but spent an ungodly amount of time gleefully breaking into literally everywhere in Prague), but the only complaint I can make about Jensen at this point is his kinda douchey fashion sense. His sort of detached nature seems like it matches his role in his world. Tricked out with top of the line technology but living in a slum with no real rights, spat on by the authorities but at the same time a terrifying killing machine enforcing the will of “The Man”. He’s become pretty much a tool (no pun intended) instead of a person, which happens to also be the primary slur people use against augs. He’s been forced into the role of this weird, deadly stranger hidden behind sunglasses and a coat. It makes sense that he comes across as soulless and aloof, being this weird contradiction of functionally superior and completely dis-empowered. At least that’s how I’m seeing it so far, and it’s not too different from what Deus Ex has normally done with its protagonists. I mean, have we forgotten JC “what a shame” Denton?

    • LionsPhil says:

      Easily the worst bit of the Squeenix games is how they’ve managed to rewrite the remembered history of the actual Deus Ex.

      JC is a snarker. He has opinions. He’s a cynical (but not defeatist) mirror to his brother’s idealism, especially around some of the game’s more transhumanist ideas (right up to the end, he’s skeptical about Helios).

      • MultiVaC says:

        Those are all true, but none of them seem like they would be the sort of thing that provide the sort of emotional connection and motivation that the article is saying Jensen lacks. JC is weirdly inexpressive and doesn’t really have much attachment to anyone other than Paul, and even there he’s not very intense. So far I’ve seen opinions and cynicism from Jensen in DXMD too, mostly from the video conversations with Sarif. I will admit that so far there has been nothing as a enjoyable as JC’s snarkiness, especially his confrontation with Walton Simons.

  31. Laurentius says:

    DX:HR was like that as well. I didn’t care for Jensen and his motivations, as it was all done akward and bad. If not comment up ther I wouldn’t even rememberd that there was some Megen to begin with. But he serves his puropose as a cool avatar for a player in cyberpunk game.
    Same goes with Corvo in Dishonored as well.

  32. OmNomNom says:

    Yes, just reminds me of Keanu Reeves. The best bits are where he doesn’t speak.

  33. Michael Fogg says:

    Heey fellas, what’s grittier than grit? Adam Jensen

  34. Premium User Badge

    gritz says:

    Outstanding piece. Best RPS of the month, maybe of the whole Summer?

    • Premium User Badge

      heretic says:

      I have to agree with you I really enjoyed this piece.

      I’ll find out if I agree with Alec when I play it but regardless this was well written and I really enjoyed reading it. Thanks Alec!

      I replayed HR recently but I kinda regret it, I had great memories of this game but replaying it I did find some areas quite tedious… maybe I wasn’t in the right state of mind, I enjoyed IW a lot more thinking about it… but maybe this is rose tinted glasses again.

      I think replaying HR kinda put me off playing this sequel as I’m scared I will feel the same way as I did in that replay.

      I am indeed looking forward to Dishonoured more than playing this, which is strange as I really enjoy me some cyber punk future – will see what Cyberpunk 2077 will bring

  35. left1000 says:

    Uh, you’re aware jensen is a mole/plant/spy working against taskforce29? These guys you say are his supporting cast of allies are actually his enemy’s…. it was explained in some of those boring cutscenes, and in some background details strewn about your apartment.

    Maybe you didn’t find that plot interesting, I didn’t either really, but that is the plot. The plot of him working for interpol is a cover story with a cover story.

  36. left1000 says:

    Uh, you’re aware jensen is a mole/plant/spy working against taskforce29? These guys you say are his supporting cast of allies are actually his enemy’s…. it was explained in some of those boring cutscenes, and in some background details strewn about your apartment.

    Maybe you didn’t find that plot interesting, I didn’t either really, but that is the plot. The plot of him working for interpol is a cover story with a cover story.

    I agree though jensen doesn’t belong here, the biggest reason for me is that he starts off a badass superman, I wish we’d gotten a new character who started off weak, so we could RPG-build him up into a jensen.

    • Chicago Ted says:

      He starts off badass, sure, but then it breaks almost immediately after the introduction. It’s like Metroid Prime, starting with all the upgrades and then something happens and you have to go get them all again.

  37. btorville says:

    One freaking line in reference to The Witcher 3 and this had to appear on the game page for TW3 — seriously? WTF do I care about Deus Ex and how would its fans like some random “news” article about TW3 to pop up on their game page. Please. Let’s try to at least pretend we’re staying on topic.

  38. Jac says:

    He’s certainly not the greatest character ever but I don’t find him detrimental to the game in any way. Quite surprised he’s managed to elicit such a strong reaction, which is a shame if it’s impacting your enjoyment. Although I will say complaining about the freedom is slightly ridiculous especially since if you were getting bored with no context you knew where to go.

    He does have a book on his bed side table called “HOW TO LET GO” so I say cut the guy some slack.

    • Booker says:

      I actually like AJ. I never had a thing for drama queens. Also you CAN ask about Megan Reed in the beginning. What’s he supposed to do? Cry about it?

      Na, the problem here is, that people are playing games they aren’t interested in, merely for the sake of writing something about it. When something is actually a chore, of course it won’t be fun. Nuff said.

      • Chaoslord AJ says:

        Asking about Megan just for the sake of the HR players anyway.
        Frankly the Megan thing didn’t end up too well and it was two years ago.
        Might have also been smalltalk with his boss as she was a common acquaintance but otherwise why relieve that memory?
        Like meeting someone back from school years ago asking about the girl who dismissed you, wouldn’t do that either.
        While asking about Pritchard he might have asked about Malik instead of Megan as she was his trustful pilot in HR.

  39. Booker says:

    “He doesn’t care. Why should I?”

    Uh, no idea where you are taking this from. Such a weird stance. In my game AJ cared a lot. He saved all kinds of people who would have died without his actions and I usually selected the dialog options where he would preach to others instead of saying “whatever”.
    And the most obvious reason why he cared popped up in the end: the achievement for not killing a single person in my playthrough. If AJ wouldn’t have cared, he just as well might have killed everyone with a headshot, instead of taking the scenic route by sneaking around everywhere.

  40. sdfv says:

    It’s a AAA game from a major publisher, and you’re *surprised* that it’s brainless, soulless, and narratively bankrupt?

    • Booker says:

      It’s literally none of these things. Also: link to

      • Premium User Badge

        gritz says:

        Fighting pedantry with pedantry!

        “An AAA game” is only acceptable if you pronounce it “Ay Ay Ay” and not “Triple A” like a normal person.

        • Minglefingler says:

          Allow me to correct your pedantry with some of my own, “Ay” is pronouned differently than the letter A so no points there. Also, who’s to say that “normal” people say “AAA” as “triple a,” I certainly don’t.

          • Kaeoschassis says:

            I actually pronounce it like a short scream of mortal terror. Which is interesting, as that was my reaction to this particular comment thread.

          • Minglefingler says:

            That’s a fairly reasonable reaction, all things considered.

  41. Jediben says:

    Jensen has done his best, done what he thought was right and still the world has become this new shit hole. Why wouldn’t he carry an air of ‘meh’ and avoid getting invested in that world when the collective is so ready to rabble along and maintain the perpetual state of dickishness around him? It’s how I live my life too.

  42. Coming Second says:

    Apropos of that Garth Merenghi theme overlaying the trailer someone posted on a previous article, Jensen’s generic shouty boss man reminds me uncannily of Thornton Reed.

  43. michelangelo says:

    Just call this article “Super Early Feelings About Mankind Jensen’s None” and everything will be a̛̪l̠͗l̩͌ ͙͝r͕̀ī̢g̰̽h͔͗ṯ̀.

  44. Chaoslord AJ says:

    After Jensen’s story was explained in the prequel (which should have ended the arc and continued with the classic Deus Ex storywise) it was fan service to continue with the character. About him everything was told.
    Two hours in I think he’s holding up so far. Being the silent guy with shades myself I can sympathise with him.
    After the train station incident he’s closing off the shades and keeps his own council not like giving a pathos-ladden speech as feared from watching the trailers (“you can kill bla”) or crying out loudly or anything. Also he’s been through a lot and it shows.
    A fresh character would have been better but the game’s biggest problem isn’t Jensen really.

  45. botty says:

    A bit off-topic, but is there actual people who pay 60€ for a game and then just stop playing it in the middle because bored ?

    • Coming Second says:

      If a piece of media bores you, it bores you. The price of entry shouldn’t figure.

    • Chaoslord AJ says:

      Yeah, no man’s sky comes immediately to mind as I won’t grind warp cells for 100 hours to travel 170k lightyears.
      Other than that I usually don’t buy for 60€ but I abandoned lots and lots of games.

    • derbefrier says:

      Of course people don’t generally keep doing things they don’t enjoy.

    • Zenicetus says:

      Sure, No Man’s Sky is a recent example and I was nowhere near the middle of the storyline before shelving it.

      I’m fortunate in not having to worry too much about the cost of a game (cheap hobby compared to many), and I’ll pay this amount if I think it will be an interesting experience even if I don’t finish it.

  46. Tempus Fugit says:

    I really liked DE:HR, but the worst for me was the story. It wasn’t horrible, just very middle-of-the-road for me, except for Panchaea. You know what, though? It didn’t matter because the game was so fun. I’m still very at the beginning of MD and and I’m getting the same feel, although I will admit they are trying more this time around. Game fun, bad ehhh. Whatever, give me gadgets and fun weapons and I’ll be fine.

    Well, except for the loading times. I swear, Enix is trying to be an actual simulator when it comes to the subway stops.

  47. Premium User Badge

    modzero says:

    Oh yes. I got to martial law (and then hit a crashing bug that bars the subway for me, so I’m waiting for a patch), and I really wish they went with Alex Vega instead – she seems like a much more interesting character.

    Witnessing people complaining about how that ruined Deus Ex, Illuminati and conspiracy theories for them would be amusing as well.

  48. Empathy Kill says:

    I am about 15 hours in and I personally am enjoying the game. If you take on to completing several of the side missions you will encounter a number of opportunities to catch a glimpse of Adams “soul”. In the side missions you are tasked to either “save” someone who is in a dire situation or tell them to piss off. YOU get to decide whether or not Adam actually cares. These “situations” are sometimes pretty sad… Letting you know just how bad the world has gotten. If Adam cares or not that is up to you based on your responses. The person who wrote this article thinks Adam doesnt care because he doesn’t care. All the writer has done is just steal stuff… He hasn’t taken the time to flesh out the game and experience any of the side missions that give the player the chance to “care”. Like I said I am 15 hours in and I have barely touched the main mission because there are so many intense side missions… Not to mention that there are TWO other different games included in DE:MD. One is a very different puzzle type version with all of the stealth and combat play styles of DE:MK and the other you get to experience a totally different story as a totally different character… So there are actually THREE GAMES in DE:MD!

    • Premium User Badge

      modzero says:

      What? Haha, no, the most you get in conversations is making a bunch of conciliatory sounds. Whenever the writers try to make something that’s vaguely like caring (like in the Samizdat mission, or when saving the guy who’s getting beaten up by the police), you can really hear that they don’t even know how caring sounds like. It’s just a robot reciting something to get someone’s trust, is all.

      Also, haha, three games in one. I had Nintendo cartridges that gave me even more!

    • Booker says:

      Exactly how I experienced the game. You really have to spell everything out for some people.

      The funny thing is, that in many other games there’s the complaint that the player character is too fleshed out instead of just a mere player avatar. :D

      Deus Ex is a great game and it’s pretty stupid to make stuff up, just so you can complain about something, something that has usually nothing to do with the game. :)

      I’m starting the breach mode next, can’t wait! :)

  49. Aerothorn says:

    I’m caught between hoping that Square Enix learns their lesson, and we get a properly new protagonist in Deus Ex 5; but Square Enix isn’t generally one to learn lessons, in my experience, and is far too conservative with their ‘western’ titles. I think it’s just a matter of time before they remake Deus Ex to embarrassing results.

  50. additionofzeroes says:

    From what I remember from reading previous interviews related to this series; the design of the player character in the games is intentionally as understated as possible to give the player a chance to fill their own reactions in the gaps. The idea of gameplay as narrative has developed in a lot of interesting directions since Half Life! I did like better how in Deus Ex 1 you could choose your skin tone and in the second one your gender as well and I think having such a “specific” character is a step backwards in a sense – also taking place in the past relative to the first two games in another sense. I personally would have LOVED a post-singularity setting for Deus Ex 3 but retreating into the past does seem to be the hot new thing now (Battlefield WW1, Farcry Primal, the new Star Trek, etc). I think the problem with the new Deus Ex games is that it’s harder to suspend disbelief (necessary to “fill in the gaps” between sparse responses from the main character) when the characters are all rendered in such intricate detail. Anyone who hasn’t seen screenshots of the first game; have a glance on google images. The real characterisation in those first two games came from the voice acting, not the graphics. Now that everything has such rich detail, playing it deadpan only works when it’s funny (which it occasionally is!). This is kind of like how they had to change actors’ makeup when HD cameras came out, but having to do with characterization overall instead of just visual appearance. How do you design a character that will be yourself? I think Mass Effect did this better than anyone, but I can also see the point of view that you can sometimes tell a better story by restricting the possibilities in interesting ways – good point about The Witcher being superior in this regard. The next Deus Ex game has to either has to drop the “main character as an emotional/stylistic placeholder for the player” and design a compelling protagonist or otherwise open the character design up for anatomic customization (another reason why a post-singularity deus ex would have made a better episode 3..sigh) and make the rest of the story not depend so much on what they look like.

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