Square Enix Montreal are quite a unique studio. Although they are part of one of the largest games developers in the world, they’re somewhat detached location wise from their Japanese counterparts, and they operate in a manner much more akin to an indie studio. When I was talking to some of their team at gamescom, it was very easy to tell that they love this freedom. Their mandate is to make fun games and how they do that is up to them. It’s a very open plan office and everyone, from interns to head honchos pitch in. Meetings are open and ideas are welcomed from all, even those just passing to go to the coffee machine.
It might be this detachment and creative freedom that allows them to output games that are so very detached from their source material, despite instant recognisability. The Go series of games has so far miniaturised the world of Hitman and Tomb Raider, and in both cases the titles have proven to be a big hit both with fans and non-fans of the series. The latest incarnation turns its attention to the world of Deus Ex, in Deus Ex GO
Now Deus Ex is a pretty large and complex game, translating it to a mobile device was always going to be a tough job. Square Enix Montreal didn’t try and do that though, they simply boiled the game down to what the nuts and bolts of what makes it unique. The game still has the stealth sneaking and hacking elements that you expect from Deus Ex, but the rest is just as you’d expect from a Go game, and that’s no bad thing.
With characters from the main game featured throughout, the title should be familiar to fans of the series. As the story is standalone, it’s not necessary to have played any of the games to pick it up, but those who have will likely welcome the return of Adam and his friends.
The thing that struck me the most, both playing the game at gamescom and from the comfort of my own tablet was the ease of playing. I’ve always felt that the key to a good mobile game is being able to pick it up and play within a few minutes. If you’re gaming at home, you have all the time in the world to play through an hour of tutorials, but on a mobile, you want something you can play through on a bus journey. Deus Ex Go excels at this pick-up-and-play mentality. Everything that you learn is organic. You’ll be introduced to each mechanic in a controlled manner, with the difficulty ramping up when you know what to do. At no point though, does the game categorically tell you “you can’t hurt guards with armour, the yellow things are for hacking turrets”, it just placed things in an obvious location the first time you see them and then assumes you will remember what everything is for as you go. It works incredibly well.
The Deus Ex universe is generally very pretty, which is why I thought the particularly brown and generic world of Deus Ex Go was a disappointment. I know brown was all the rage in games about five years ago, but the sepia-tinged world of this game didn’t so much bring back nostalgic memories of yesteryear, as memories of the last level. Of course, if you really like brown and triangles, then you’ll love this game, otherwise, it’s a very bland affair.
Of course, I’m not one to judge a game solely on its looks. Some of my favourite games look dreadful, the key thing with a puzzle game is how it plays, and this one plays sublimely. There’s clearly a lot of thought been put into the level design and there are puzzles which will leave you scratching your head for a while. When you finally crack them though, the sense of satisfaction is palpable.
Square Enix Montreal have gone a long way to trying to make sure this game stays relevant with future updates as well. There are weekly “events” which basically means that there are extra puzzles added weekly, some of which are particularly challenging and designed for those who have mastered the campaign mode already. There’s also a puzzle creator coming, so you can make your own levels and share them but sadly the feature wasn’t live at the time of writing so I can’t say if it’s any good or not.
To sum up, I’d say that Deus Ex Go is a solid, fun puzzle game, whether or not you’re a fan of the main series. I wish it looked a little prettier but nitpicking aside, it’s a good game and well worth the premium (for a mobile title) price.
Deus Ex GO (Reviewed on Android)
This game is great, with minimal or no negatives.
Not a pretty game, but a really good interpretation of the Deus Ex world in the form of a puzzle game. Plenty of fun for your money and comes highly recommended.