deus ex go

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We’ve seen two entries now in the GO franchise, both published by Square Enix and developed by Square Enix Montreal. With both HITMAN GO and LARA CROFT GO, Squeenix’s Montreal branch managed to take two of their more open-ended series and reinterpret them as puzzle-based board games. Both released to enormous acclaim and champion the best of what the mobile platform might offer, so it’s no surprise then that the newest iteration, DEUS EX GO, has has garnered a fair share of hype before launch.

DEUS EX GO, shockingly enough, is based on the hit sci-fi series Deux Ex. Deus Ex is typically really difficult to narrow down to a specific genre, offering a blend of aspects from role-playing games, first-person shooters, stealth games, narrative adventures, and more. Needless to say, I was intrigued about the prospect of blending Deus Ex with the puzzle-based gameplay of the the GO franchise. Thankfully, the two of them are a match made in heaven.

deus ex go chutes and ladders

It’s like a complicated Chutes and Ladders, but with more stabbing

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To beat the puzzles of DEUS EX GO, players must direct cyber spy Adam Jensen through a series of grid-based levels, dodging guards and hacking terminals in order to find the exit to proceed onward. But to be successful, players must memorize their enemies and their patterns. Some might move only when they notice you while others patrol on routes, and robotic turrets will open fire on sight. Luckily, Adam can find powerups that help him navigate the levels safely, including invisibility cloaks and remote hacking.

Similar to fellow cyber-sleuther VOLUME, DEUS EX GO is less about eliminating your foes than it is about outmanuevering them. In fact, I found more success moving past enemies without dispatching them through the use of hacking. Hacking is more important in DEUS EX GO than anything else. With it, you can turn turrets against your enemies, or deactivate hexagons on the map preventing enemy movement. Taking enemies head on will result in failure, so the puzzles arise from using Jensen’s powers and manipulating enemy tactics in order to safely reach the other end of the level. The end result is a complex puzzle in which players must use Jensen’s powers and attack enemies from behind, done by making the right moves, as well as executing powers and hacks at the right time.

Like HITMAN and LARA CROFT before it, DEUS EX GO uses a minimalist art style that is really fun to look at. However, the levels themselves do look a bit similar and blend together after awhile. One might be grey and the other might be gold, but there isn’t much variation beyond that basic palette swap. LARA CROFT GO managed to spruce environments up with rubble and foliage, which in turn hid collectibles, making the package as a whole far more satisfying. I was then disappointed to see that DEUS EX GO’s were more sparse than streamlined.

deus ex go blue man

Pay no attention to the translucent blue man…

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New to this installment is the addition of a story mode set in the Deus Ex universe. The developers have stated that the story ties into the upcoming entry in the main series, MANKIND DIVIDED, which is a fun way to promote the two games together. Overall, I found the story to be as negligible as the visuals, more of a means to keep Adam moving from one level to the next, but it’s nice to see justice being done to Deus Ex on mobile after the dreadful DEUS EX: THE FALL.

The only real gripe I can offer about this entry is the learning curve. The game rarely explains anything and leaves much to be learned by the player. While this can be a benefit in some cases, like learning enemy patterns, entire gameplay mechanics are left unexplained. For example, a later level requires Adam to unlock a terminal, but without any means to reach it. Having never been introduced to the concept of hacking remotely, I was left moving Adam back and forth across the screen wondering what to do. After a while, I started clicking buttons on the screen and only through chance discovered the ability to remotely hack terminals. I enjoy a good challenge, but such a core gameplay mechanic should be introduced a bit more pointedly.

DEUS EX GO offers about three to four hours of gameplay in its campaign puzzles, with weekly challenges being offered through the app. For $5, it’s a solid game to take on the go and enjoy while commuting or waiting for a bus. The GO games are a great example of adapting a well established franchise to the mobile. Rather than translating the core gameplay of the franchise to mobile with terrible touch controls or awful gyroscope functionality, DEUS EX GO does the opposite: creating a puzzle game that rebrands the series while remaining rooted in the same familiar universe. All in all, it’s a nice little package that provides a challenge while sticking to the strengths of the platform.

Verdict: Recommend

Reviewed on iOS, also available on Android

Jason Pedroza is a Crossfader guest contributor who really likes stories and spends most of his time lost somewhere in his own imagination. He will love you forever if you offer him a Slurpee or some candy.

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