Originally published on Trevor Trove on August 25, 2016
TL; DR(eview) – Deus Ex GO continues the strong trend of Square Enix Montreal’s investment in well-crafted puzzle games incorporating some of their most notable intellectual properties. The addition of new daily challenge puzzles and the future promise of user-generated content allow for continued replayability, even if the “base” game is the shortest of the GO trilogy so far.
For the past few years, Square Enix has really been diving all-in on mobile gaming. Many of their classic Final Fantasy titles live on in the app store, albeit ridiculously overpriced for the market. They develop new Final Fantasy titles like Final Fantasy Record Keeper and Final Fantasy Brave Exvius that continue the tradition of active time battle games while the consoles games continue along the path of action role-playing games. And the team at Square Enix Montreal has probably been the driving force behind the most interesting of the mobile outings: the GO series. Hitman GO, Lara Croft GO, and now (just in time for Deus Ex: Mankind Divided) Deus Ex GO have all managed to successfully translate their respective storied franchises into the mobile space.
Deus Ex GO follows the trend set forth by the first two: a board-game-styled puzzle game of increasingly complex levels. While Hitman GO led Agent 47 through a series of complex assassinations and Lara Croft GO featured the Tomb Raider in the search of a single cavern, Deus Ex GO is the first to feature a direct narrative. As Adam Jensen, you are dispatched to a hostage situation where things may not be exactly as they seem. Throughout the game’s 54 levels, small static text exchanges occur between Jensen and other characters of the Deus Ex universe as the plot unfolds. The story itself is pretty straightforward and largely by the book for the genre but it’s also more story than you’ll find in 99% of mobile games I would imagine.
As always, the puzzles are where this game really shines. There are a few different enemy types that will give Jensen a hard time. Some will chase after him if he remains in their line of sight while others will disrupt his augmentation hacks. Said hacks are a driving force of the puzzle elements as well. Certain tiles will allow Jensen the ability to hack elements of the level: a turret can turn from foe to friend, tiles can be activated or inactivated to provide an exit route or cutoff an enemy, and other tiles can be rotated to create alternate routes. I’ve certainly run into a wall a number of times in the past week where I would fail to see the solution over and over again. But as is often the case with puzzles like these, returning later with fresh eyes allowed me to see the approach needed and progress through the level.
There aren’t really extra incentives to replay the levels like in previous games (Hitman GO had different objects to complete on each level that might require multiple different approaches and Lara Croft GO had hidden collectibles scattered throughout the levels); all Deus Ex GO has is a golden completion badge if you manage to solve the puzzle in the minimum number of moves. There are a couple of features outside of the main game that will extend the game’s life though.
Deus Ex GO features new weekly challenges that release daily Monday through Friday. Modeled in spirit after something like the New York Times Crossword Puzzle, the week’s Deus Ex GO puzzles start out relatively simple on Monday and increase in difficulty as the week progresses. The other element, not currently available but promised in a future update, is a Level Editor that will allow users to generate their own puzzles for other players to experience. The two features combined provide the potential for far more levels than the first two games combined, even if right now things are somewhat on the light side.
All in all, the team at Square Enix Montreal continues to develop some of the only mobile games that manage to win over typically standoffish console gamers like myself. At only $5 I can’t imagine, even when the games sell well, they are a cash cow. But the brand awareness they provide they properties is probably well worth it in the cost-benefit analysis, so we’ll presumably continue to see the GO series continue to expand into the other Square Enix franchises in the years to come.
Now if only Lara Croft GO and Deus Ex GO would follow Hitman GO to PlayStation platforms…