The Infinite Zenith

Where insights on anime, games and life converge

Deus Ex: Mankind Divided- Review and Impressions after Golem City

“A lack of casualties would be a show of respect to someone like Rucker.” —Adam Jensen

After arriving at Golem City, Adam Jensen enters the home of his informant, Tibor, to find that said he has been arrested by the police. When Jensen locates Tibor, he finds him too worried about his family to be of much use, but still learns enough to find that the Augmented Rights Coalition’s turf can be accessed through an area called “The Throat”. He encounters Viktor Marchenko, a high-ranking ARC member, who advises him to turn back, but undeterred, Jensen pushes forwards through ARC turf. He eventually reaches Rucker, and despite Rucker’s objections that Jensen had engaged his men en route, the lack of lethal force puts Jensen in a reasonably secure position to negotiate with Rucker. Convincing Rucker that the right thing to do is accompany him, Jensen wins the debate, and Rucker hands Jensen some evidence. However, before Jensen can take him in, Rucker’s augmentations begin failing, and he dies before Jensen’s eyes, forcing Jensen to return to the extraction point empty-handed. This is where I presently stand in Mankind Divided, and the Golem City mission has been an absolute blast, allowing me to make use of Jensen’s augmentations in order to complete the objective. Whereas I went with an intermediate combat-stealth hybrid in Human Revolution, this time, I rolled with the stealth approach, making use of non-lethal weapons to clear an area before moving onwards.

In this middle section of Mankind Divided, the single aspect that stands out the most is the level design of the Útulek Complex, known informally as Golem City. A ghetto for augmented citizens, it is presented as a haven where quality of life is reasonable, but upon entering, it becomes apparent that this impromptu settlement, with its poor living standards and high crime rates, is a deplorable place. In fact, the tightly-packed living quarters, narrow corridors, exposed electrical wires, haphazard pipes and clutter greatly resemble Hong Kong’s Kowloon Walled City. Even though Golem City is in the Czech Republic, that it draws inspiration from the Kowloon Walled City is apparent. Informal networks of passages and passages line Golem City, offering numerous means of reaching a destination. The narrow alleyways are illuminated with fluorescent lamps — as with Kowloon Walled City, the high-rise constructions meant that sunlight did not reach the ground in many places. Golem City offers a glimpse at what Kowloon Walled City was like, providing a virtual environment that is superbly designed for further emphasising just how divided the world has become since the events of Human Revolution. I was highly impressed at the details in the environment, and to see a different interpretation of the Kowloon Walled City come to life was quite fascinating. My parents were Hong Kong citizens, and back when the Walled City had not yet been demolished, my grandparents had warned them to steer clear of the Walled City for fear of the nefarious activities that occurred within its confines. This was an area where crime was so rampant that police refused to enter unless in force, and even after a major operation in the 1970s, the image stuck, even though most of its inhabitants who lived as tightly-knit communities to overcome hardships. Consequently, it was rather interesting to be given the tools to enter an equivalent, simulated Kowloon Walled City with a mission and explore what such an environment could be like had it been built for housing augmented individuals in a society where apartheid has taken hold.

Screenshots and Commentary

  • Immediately after arrival in Golem City, the design of the cityscape and elements inside immediately evokes imagery associated with Hong Kong’s Kowloon Walled City. With its narrow corridors, ad hoc construction, exposed wiring, pools of water on the ground and haphazardly placed fluorescent lights, the only differences between Golem City and Kowloon Walled City is that the inhabitants speak Czech rather than Cantonese, and there is a substantial police presence in Golem City, compared to Kowloon Walled City, which largely belonged to the Triads until the mid 1970s.

  • The light effects in Golem City are incredibly well done, and I found myself staring at the different fixtures in the area, as well as their reflections off the surfaces. While the narrow passageways through Golem City seemingly present a highly linear environment to move through, the level design is exceptional; it is possible to make use of vertical routes to move between different points, as well.

  • The silenced Zenith CA-40 10mm pistol with a laser sight becomes my go-to tool for creating a distraction, luring the occasional guard off his pre-programmed route into a more appropriate location for a takedown. With this in mind, I’ve not actually used it as an offensive weapon: in Human Revolution, it was a powerful asset when upgraded with armour-piercing rounds that allowed it to take out any non-boss opponent with a single well-placed headshot.

  • The primary utility of the Zenith pistol is actually the fact that it can be chambered with EMP rounds, which gives it the capacity to disable electronic devices for a few moments without destroying it. I make use of such a round here to sneak past a camera, and the utility for this weapon has gotten me through several areas with turrets: I do not have the hacking level required to override turrets or robots, so the ability to disable them is highly useful.

  • After making my way through the garrison and freeing Tibor, I obtain a passphrase that provides access into The Throat. Return to the streets of Golem City to seek out one Louis Gallois as per Jensen’s deal with Otar, I listened to his side of the story and preferred to spare him, earning another way into The Throat. I opted to take the elevator that one of Tibor’s associates were guarding, although the passageway that Gallois offers is equally viable.

  • Instead of the fishballs that some of Kowloon Walled City’s inhabitants produced, Czech sausages are this shop’s specialties. Stepping close to the shop will allow for the sizzling of meats to be heard, although the shopkeeper does not seem interested in doing business with Jensen.

  • Here, I’ve made it into the Throat and have finished a conversation with Viktor Marchenko. I’ve got a battle rifle here, a weapon that acts as a slightly less powerful sniper rifle. Because I’m going for a non-combative playthrough, this weapon is actually of limited use for me, so I opted not to upgrade it at all and when finding one, would pick it up so I could sell it. The weapon does take up quite a bit of space in the inventory, and I was later forced to swap it out in exchange for a sniper rifle.

  • Now that I’m armed with the Tesla charges, I am offered one additional avenue for dispatching opponents in a non-lethal manner. The base Tesla charges lock onto only one enemy at once, although the full-fledged variant can hit four targets simultaneously. This allows me to conserve on stun gun ammunition. While I am equipped with a cloak and can sneak past everyone, dispatching enemies only as necessary, I rather like looting everyone I encounter for credits and gear.

  • The downside to these predispositions is that any carelessness can result in a firefight breaking out, and with my playing Jensen in a strict no-kill manner, I am forced to become more creative in worming my way out of these situations. I will often hide and wait out my enemies, who enter a search pattern once Jensen is lost. When they complete their search patterns, hostilities will cease.

  • During a particularly onerous firefight, the ARC soldiers liberally used explosives, even killing their own in the process. I managed to lure most of them into a side corridor and took them out, one by one, using the Tesla charges, stun gun and non-lethal take downs liberally. However, some of the ARC soldiers had fragmentation grenades and tossed them into the room, killing the other ARC soldiers who were already knocked out.

  • The Glass-Shield cloak allows Jensen to move through laser emitters without any difficulty. When triggered, the consequences are varied, ranging from the release of gas, activation of an alarm or even an explosion. They can usually be deactivated from a terminal somewhere, although having the Glass-Shield makes it almost too easy to bypass them.

  • I’ve actually not encountered any combat robots in Mankind Divided yet: recalling that these robots were the bane of my existence in Human Revolution until I acquired the explosive rounds for the Revolver, I began stockpiling EMP grenades to make any future encounters easier. I generally prefer gas grenades for their ability to clear out entire areas without killing anyone, although they have proven to be quite rare in my playthrough.

  • In an office space leading up to Rucker’s private headquarters, I come across Marchenko’s private computer terminal. It’s protected with level five security clearance, exceeding my ability to hack it, but exploration earlier allowed me to read a communique bearing his login credentials, so I was able to break in no problem. The presence of utilities such as a multi-tool and alternatives means that it’s not quite so imperative to max out one’s hacking early on, although having good hacking nonetheless remains an essential asset in Jensen’s toolkit.

  • I never showcased the CASIE mod in my talks for Human Revolution, but the time has come to rectify this. Making use of the response level and the personality analysis, the mod allows players to play on an individual’s traits to pick the response most likely to elicit a positive response. It’s the closest thing to cheating in the Deus Ex series, although its utility cannot be understated. If players are able to convince Rucker to turn himself in, Rucker will also give Jensen a keycard to a saferoom containing evidence, as well as a Praxis kit. I’ve heard that failing can result in Rucker summoning his soldiers before he dies.

  • Regardless of how the conversation goes, Rucker will die as his augmentations fail, and although Jensen’s pilot will ask him to pick up the pace, there’s actually no rush if the office is still peaceful. I took some time to explore its intricately detailed interior, which matches the clutter and complexity seen in Makoto Shinkai’s films. At this point in time, I’ve seen Your Name for myself now, although in the absence of a high quality home release, I’ve not done a review for it yet.

  • It turns out that in the E3 Demo back in 2015, the parts of the game that were showcased were in The Throat leading up to, including the discussion with Rucker and then Jensen’s escape. The demonstration showcased the combat side of things, including the Titan Shield (which renders Jensen invulnerable to damage) and nanoblades, although I’ve opted to go with a more stealth-driven approach. Like the E3 Demo, I make my way through a greenhouse where tomatoes are grown. The HUD’s been given a complete overhaul, though, and I rather like this one.

  • There are a couple of drones floating about here, and although I am equipped with the means to deal with them, here, I prefer to keep quiet and dispatch any opposition quietly, rather than go in guns blazing. I’ve been steadily ascending through the different floors of Golem City, and, near the top, light actually reaches the constructions, standing in stark contrast to the dark corridors and alleyways of the regions below.

  • Going in non-lethal here will still trigger a firefight of sorts, although I use my augmentations liberally to quickly dispatch all threats without any kills. A stray grenade thrown by an ARC soldier kills one of their own, and I’m hoping this won’t affect my Pacifist playthrough in any way. During the intense firefight here, one of the ARC soldiers shoot through some cucumbers being grown, which allowed me to unlock one of the more unusual achievements in the game, which was supposedly the result of Executive Art Director Jonathan Jacques-Belletête remarking that there were a large number of cucumbers when seeing the clutter in the environments.

  • From the looks of it, there are many achievements in Mankind Divided, so I will probably have to go back through on a second playthrough to collect all of them. I make use of the shotgun to blow away to drones firing on me: a full magazine of standard buckshot is enough to take one down, and after that, it’s a simple matter of making my way to the extraction point. In the distance, the sunset can be seen, along with steel towers that presumably act as the support core for future constructions in Golem City.

  • Golem City is now in the books, and as the rays of sun illuminate the entire area, it’s time to return to Prague. As Jensen takes off, he comes under small arms fire from other ARC soldiers, only for Marchenko to show up and quietly motion for a ceasefire. He’s the antagonist of Mankind Divided, and some nineteen months after the first trailer was revealed, it’s been amazing to be able to actually play through this game. I’ve been excited by this game since April 2015, and surmise that, had the game released as per Square Enix’s original timeline in February 2016, I might have been too distracted to finish my thesis on time. On the topic of my thesis, everything’s more or less reached a conclusion — I’ll be walking the stage quite soon for convocation.

Playing through the Golem City missions was an immensely enjoyable experience, and here, I found that even though I was lacking the option to upgrade my leg augmentations (having disabled them earlier), I was able to make it work. Using a combination of the Tesla charges and Glass-shield cloak, plus a stun gun and tranqualiser rifle, I was able to both sneak through areas and engage in non-lethal combat as required. After reaching Rucker’s office and conversing with him, I found myself face-to-face with a beautiful sunset. Prague looked quite dapper, but the atmospherics and details in Golem City had been particularly noteworthy. To see the densely-packed city illuminated under the last light of a day really drove home the point that Mankind Divided looks amazing, on top of handling smoothly and featuring a compelling narrative. Having gone through Golem City, it is quite clear that by this point in time, hardware is definitely not an issue on my end; Mankind Divided loads rather quickly, and frame rates don’t drop noticeably anywhere in the game. With Rucker now dead from a yet-unknown cause, the mystery deepens, and Jensen is set to return to Prague by night to continue investigating the terrorist bombing. I’m definitely enjoying Mankind Divided, and look forwards to seeing where things will go.

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