ⓘ Deus Ex


ⓘ Deus Ex

Deus Ex is a series of role-playing video games. The first two games in the series were developed by Ion Storm, and subsequent entries were developed by Eidos Montreal, following Ion Storms closure. The series, set during the 21st century, focuses on the conflict between secretive factions who wish to control the world by proxy, and the effects of transhumanistic attitudes and technologies in a dystopian future setting.

The series consists of six games: Deus Ex 2000, Deus Ex: Invisible War 2003, Deus Ex: Human Revolution 2011, Deus Ex: The Fall 2013, Deus Ex Go 2016 and Deus Ex: Mankind Divided 2016. The series has received critical acclaim and sold over 5 million units worldwide.


1. Series overview

Note: given the freedom of choice found within each game, the section below only gives the general outline of the world and the individual plotlines.

While each game has a distinct story, they are all set within the same world: an Earth of the future which has evolved a dystopian cyberpunk society. In this setting, several organizations compete for overall control of the world. Several of the societies mentioned or shown are inspired by real-world and invented secret societies and conspiracy theories. The one constant through the series is the Illuminati, although FEMA, Majestic 12, and the Knights Templar are also featured. The main characters in the series possess artificially acquired superhuman abilities, referred to as "Augmentation".

Deus Ex takes place during 2052, while the world is facing a crisis caused by a mysterious nano-virus called the Gray Death. In the midst of the crisis, JC Denton, a nano-augmented rookie agent for the United Nations Anti-Terrorist Coalition UNATCO, is sent to eliminate terrorist cells, but ends up drawn into the various schemes of rival factions and secret societies, who are responsible for the epidemic. Once he arrives in Area 51, Denton has the choice between neutralizing technology and plunging the world into a second dark age, allying with the Illuminati, or merging with an advanced AI so as to impose a benevolent dictatorship. Invisible War takes place twenty years later, after a massive economic depression and period of war called the Collapse that was indicated by Dentons actions and a combination of possible events from the first game. The games protagonist, Alex D, a clone of Denton, is drawn into a conflict between two seemingly opposing factions, and learns of conspiratorial factions which seek to drastically change the world, including JC Denton: Alex can perform missions for any of them, and eventually becomes able to choose which organization should rule the world.

Human Revolution is set in 2027, twenty-five years before the first title, where corporations have extended their influence past the reach of global governments and the development of bio-mechanical augmentation by a few elite and powerful companies threatens to destabilize society. The game follows Adam Jensen, the security chief for bio-tech company Sarif Industries. After a devastating attack on Sarifs headquarters which leaves him near-death, Adam is forced to undergo radical augmentation surgery, and he becomes embroiled both in the search for the attackers and the political and ethical repercussions of augmentation technology. The Fall is a parallel story, set after the spin-off novel Icarus Effect. It follows the story of Ben Saxon, an augmented former British SAS mercenary, who is on the run from his former employers, a group of augmented mercenaries that play a crucial part in the plot of Human Revolution. Mankind Divided is set in 2029, 2 years after the events of Human Revolution in a world dealing with the consequences of the previous games events. Regardless of the choice made by Adam at the end of Human Revolution, the Illuminati have twisted his message and augmented individuals are persecuted and feared. A disillusioned Adam works with an international taskforce hinted to be a precursor to UNATCO in Deus Ex designed to stop the rising wave of terrorism brought on by the disenfranchised and desperate augmented while working to uncover the perpetrators of the events that led to the current state of the world.


2. Gameplay

A unifying element across the series is the combination of gameplay styles from several different genres, including action role-playing, first-person shooter and stealth. Role-playing elements are mostly linked to augmenting the character in a specific way, spending skill points to create characters that can be focused either on stealth or combat, or a balance of the two. Player choice is a key feature of the series, with the actions of the player character affecting both the world around them and the way non-player characters NPCs react to the character: depending on which faction they belong to, NPCs might praise and be helpful, chastise, ignore, or even attack them. This emphasis on player choice is most evident in Invisible War, where players can choose the gender and skin color of the main character before starting, and have the option of running quests for and allying with four possible factions within the game.


3. Development history

The original Deus Ex was conceived by Warren Spector in 1994 under the working title Troubleshooter. The main drive behind Deus Ex was Spectors growing dislike for straight fantasy or science fiction video games, and the want to create something new and different. In an interview, he stated that he wanted to emulate the immersive playing styles of games like Ultima Underworld, and eventually, after being rejected by Origin Systems, the company he was working with at the time, and Looking Glass Studios, Spectors project was picked up by Ion Storm, who, according to Spector, asked him to "make the game of dreams". The title Deus Ex was meant to both represent aspects of the plot in the game and to poke fun at the design techniques that were prevalent in the majority of games at the time. The games influences included Suikoden, Half-Life and GoldenEye 007.

The second game in the series, Invisible War, was unveiled at E3 2002. The designers chose to allow the players to choose which sex their player character would be, an idea conceived for the original game. After the release of Invisible War, both Harvey Smith, the main designer for Deus Ex, and Spector left Ion Storm in 2004, with the former citing health problems and the latter saying he wished to pursue his own projects. Later, because of restructuring at Eidos Interactive, Ion Storm was closed down the following year. A multiplayer-focused third game titled Deus Ex: Clan Wars was originally being made at Crystal Dynamics, but because of the commercial underperformance of Invisible War, it was distanced from the Deux Ex series and renamed Project Snowblind.

Human Revolution was announced in 2007 under the working title Deus Ex 3. The games creation was handled by Eidos Montreal and the developers parent company Square Enix, whose Visual Works department created the CG movies for the game. The game became the first entry in the series to receive downloadable content in the form of The Missing Link, an extra episode designed to fill a narrative gap in the game. In 2013, a new title was created for iPhone and iPad. Titled The Fall and set within Human Revolution s timeframe, the game was created by the previous games core team and a team from mobile phone developer N-Fusion. In October 2013, Eidos Montreal announced that they were working on another title in the series for PC and next-gen platforms, and that it would be the first part of a larger, transmedia project called Deus Ex: Universe.


4. Related media

CBS Films has acquired screen rights to Deus Ex, after Eidos was purchased by Square Enix. An announcement was made for a film adaptation of Deus Ex: Human Revolution in July 2012.

In 2015, Adrian Askarieh, producer of the Hitman films, stated that he hoped to oversee a shared universe of Square Enix films with Just Cause, Hitman, Tomb Raider, Deus Ex, and Thief, but admitted that he does not have the rights to Tomb Raider. In May 2017, the Game Central reporters at Metro UK suggested that the shared universe was unlikely, pointing out that no progress had been made on any Just Cause, Deus Ex nor Thief films.

Human Revolution inspired a tie-in comic book, a spin-off novel, and action figures. Alongside the announcement of a next-gen entry in the franchise, Eidos Montreal announced Deus Ex: Universe, a multimedial project involving video games across all platforms, books, graphic novels and other unspecified mediums.

Deus Ex Go is a mobile game for iOS and Android systems developed by Square Enix Montreal, released in 2016. It is a puzzle-based game in the same fashion as Square Enix Montreals previous mobile titles, Hitman Go and Lara Croft Go.


5. Reception

Overall, the Deus Ex series has been generally well received by fans and critics, with the games storylines and freedom of choice being the main point of praise.

The first game won multiple awards from various video game publications, and was lauded by critics at the time, although its graphics came in for some criticism.

Invisible War was also well received, but did not enjoy the success of its predecessor, with many elements of its gameplay and story being targets for criticism, but many praising its branching gameplay and the high level of paths the player could take through the story.

Human Revolution received high critical praise akin to that of the first game, with many reviewers praising the open-ended nature of the game and the weight of social interaction on the outcome of events.

The Fall was slightly more mixed, with praise going to the games attempt to bring the Deus Ex universe to a portable platform, but many other aspects coming in for both praise and criticism. The PC version was criticized for being a bad mobile-to-computer port.


5.1. Reception Sales

Sales as of September 2011:

  • Deus Ex: Invisible War: 1.2 million plus
  • Deus Ex: Human Revolution: 2.18 million
  • Deus Ex: 1.1 million plus