Square Enix Montreal have been on a roll with their mobile series of spin-off games featuring IPs from some of their most popular franchises, as both Hitman Go and Lara Croft Go proved that different takes can be attempted with these franchises while still getting great results. Swiping your character along a touch screen to maneuver obstacles and enemies to ultimately get to the goal at the end (and picking up some extra goodies for the challenge along the way) is a great formula, and now they’re utilizing that formula once again. Deus Ex Go definitely has the biggest challenge when it comes to scaling down a series as complex and layered as Deus Ex, but I’m happy to report that they have pulled it off.
While both Hitman Go and Lara Croft Go were all about gameplay and the puzzles at hand, it’s really impossible to omit a narrative from a game linked to the Deus Ex series considering narrative is such an integral part of its appeal. Thus, this Go game is the first one to feature actual dialogue and a story to follow, however light it may be. This story takes place within the more recent timeline of the series, featuring current series protagonist Adam jensen and some other familiar faces as they try to hunt down the bad guy. It definitely isn’t anywhere near as complex as what is featured in the main series, but having some kind of motivation for maneuvering your way through these dastardly puzzles is a very good thing.
And dastardly these puzzles are! The puzzles that this series has featured have always put up a good fight, but I can honestly say that this game takes the toughness crown easily. The ones that have been concocted for this adventure require some serious skill and forethought nearly right off the bat, and this is largely due to the new mechanics at hand. While you’ll once again be swiping across a touch screen to avoid and take down enemies in a turn-based manner, it’a the Deus Ex series’ twists that make this game the true test that it is. The big twist here is the hacking mechanic, which requires you to access terminals that you can then utilize to activate/deactivate nodes or turrets by tracing a line to them. Hacking can be seriously brain-twisting the further you get into this adventure, as enemies can deactivate your hack by smashing the hacking line if they move across it, and your hacking line can’t pass through certain enemies or other hacking lines.
Deus Ex Go further adds its own spin on the series with its use of augmentations, which essentially boil down to power-ups found within each level that Adam needs to track down in order to utilize. While Adam doesn’t have the extensive repertoire of augmentations as he does in the main games, the power-ups that are found within this game do add some interesting elements to the gameplay. Invisibility is the main power-up that you’ll be using, which allows you to remain invisible for two moves before it wears off. This power-up is absolutely vital in many of the game’s levels, and is often needed to be used in tandem with the hacking mechanic in order to overcome the 50+ levels. Power-ups can also be used to take out enemies and access hacking terminals, which further add to the many possibilities you need to consider when tackling some of the tougher levels. Adam goes down with one hit just as was the case in other Go games, and he’ll be going down a lot as you trial-and-error your way through this game and its complex puzzles.
The enemies that you’ll be taking on throughout your adventure typically ends up being of the guard, a robot or a turret variety, and they each have their own strengths and weaknesses that need to be accounted for. Human characters will start charging at you once you’re in their line of sight, but they’ll also activate an ability that will make them invulnerable as they are on the prowl. This means that you will not be able to sneak up behind them while they’re mobilized as you could in previous Go games, meaning that your opportunities to take them out are much rarer. Robots and turrets are basic enough, but how you can ultimately use them to navigate across the board is really clever. Sometimes you’ll be able to hack turrets so they’ll shoot enemies that pass by them instead of you, but other times your hacking terminal will not be able to reach them. This results in you having to figure out the right path to take so that either a guard or a robot passes in front of the turret and takes the bullets for you so you can get by. It always seems like there’s a new method to complete some of these levels that will suddenly come to you while playing every few levels, and when it does it’s a feeling of pure bliss.
The game’s visual style is also terrific, taking the cyberpunk aesthetic from the main series and scaling it down to a small and sleek mobile experience. What I found most interesting here is that Deus Ex Go has actually retained a lot of its series’ visual style compared to the more cartoonish takes from past Go games. This is a change that I appreciated, as considering it’s releasing right around the time of Mankind Divided, it feels like a nice little companion piece to it rather than a completely different beast. The combat animations are also really solid, making the moments when you finally sneak up and take down an enemy all the more rewarding.
If there’s any negative to pin on this game at all it’s a small one, and it has to do with the lack of bonus objectives for each level. While Hitman Go and Lara Croft Go had optional things to sniff out along with the main objective of completing levels, the only challenge on hand in Deus Ex Go is completing a level in a certain amount of moves. It would have been awesome if there were some bonus objectives like occasionally having to find a piece of intel or something along those lines, but there’s nothing like that here. Again, this is a minor nitpick, because the extra challenges in the previous games were a means to make the levels more difficult. If you’ve been paying attention to this review, then you’re already well aware that this little game is not lacking in difficulty at all.
Deus Ex Go is another home run from Square Enix Montreal, creating yet another engaging puzzle game from one of their established AAA franchises. The new gameplay tweaks set it apart from the previous Go entries, while also ensuring that it is the most challenging and rewarding puzzle adventure from them yet. If you’re a Deus Ex fan and fancy a puzzle game, you really can’t go wrong with Deus Ex Go.