GR: We’ve seen cutscene footage of the various takedowns that Jensen can perform. Are cutscenes utilized to convey the in-game story as well?
JJB: There’s a fair amount of cutscenes, but I think the way we used it, honestly, is quite similar to the first one in the sense that some of the conversations that Adam has with the other main protagonists, that are being evil or good or whatever, are conducted in a cinematographic way. Then there are other bit cutscenes to show you a world event that may happen or stuff like that. I think we use them fairly intelligently. I think it’s not overboard. It’s not overkill. I think they’re there to entertain, to convey the story, to make it move forward. Hopefully, it will be proper balance.
GR: The game itself seems almost like a motion picture because of the quality of the CGI.
JJB: Thanks to Square Enix.
JJB: But in the game, the cutscenes are not CGI. The cutscenes are in-engine.
GR: Is there anything done to bring empathy to the character of Adam Jensen? Is he sympathetic character?
JJB: That’s a good question. That’s a great question. I think that’s the first time I’ve ever been asked that question that way. I think he is. He’s not a very happy guy, but I think you still empathize with him in the sense that one of the main themes of the game is “why do people do the things that they do.” In everybody’s lives, we do things, we want things. Why do we want them? Sometimes we’re conscious of it, sometimes we’re not conscious, you know? And often let things control.
Like a lot of people what they want [is] control over their lives, or depending on the echelon that they are at, it may be even control of the economy or control of the truth and lies. So we treat that theme at a very different level in the game and we treat it with Adam in the sense that, “why does he do the things that he does?” First of all, he was augmented against his will. Adam is not a character that we say is either for transhumanism or against transhumanism. He says that he wanted to eventually get augmented on his own terms and choose what he could be augmented with. Maybe it would have been just a brain implant or a retinal implant. Then he ends up becoming this war machine.
So then there’s different things he ends up needing to settle in the game. Again going back to why does he do the things he does. And there’s different things, right? At first, it’s like what happened to [Jensen's] company. That’s kind of how the game starts. We need to fix that…the bad shit that happened to your company. But then it opens up and that was just the needlehead of a huge international conspiracy. Through that, Adam also finds his own quest, which is not losing an important personal choice again – which is what happened to him by losing a choice of when and how to get augmented. I think through that there is something very human about him. There’s something very kind of sensitive almost. You get really into his psyche of how he has been affected by this and how he wants to make sure that this is never going to happen. I think it’s good for girls too. I think girls like that.
JJB: That kind of like tortured soul type of thing, even if he’s kind of a rough kind of guy. I think girls dig this. Maybe we have something going on here, you know? He’s kind of badass for guys and he’s kind of like “oh I want to help this guy” for girls. “I want to be with him and try to make him into a better man.”
JJB: So as much as he’s definitely not a funny guy, I think you can empathize with him. You can end up liking him.
GR: The overall tone of the game appears very serious. Is humor used at all to defuse this tension?
JJB: I had this question at a Q&A recently and was asked if Adam ever cracks jokes. He doesn’t really. It’s cyberpunk. It’s very film noir. It’s very Deckard – Blade Runner and what not. Like I said he’s a bit of a tortured soul, but he’s very cynical, which is in a way a form of humor some times. I think an actual real joke – he cracks one joke at one point in the end of the entire game to one of the main characters. He has a relationship with the main techie-IT guy [Pritchard] of the corporation Adam works for as a security specialist. They don’t like each other. At all. But he is the main guy you are in contact with all the time during your missions – look for this, look for that. They have this banter. Through that, there are definitely some funny things, but they’re not jokes per se.
GR: Are there humorous situations?
Yeah. Adam may ask a question and [Pritchard] may reply in a manner like “duh, are you serious? You’re really asking me this?” And Adam may reply with a kind of ironic, kind of like “shut the fuck up…” You understand what I mean? They have this relationship that in itself is the humor that we have in the game. (laughter) It probably ends there. You know, it’s Deus Ex. It takes itself rather seriously.
GR: Sure. The reason I ask is because, even in serious action or film noir films, humorous moments are often inserted to lighten the mood.
JJB: True. Maybe through the visuals, you may have some composition in the scenery, a little object or something that, I wouldn’t say lightens up the atmosphere, but maybe the artists were funnier than the scriptwriters. (laughter). Not taken anything away from the scriptwriters. All my friends are actually quite funny. Maybe we are trying to lighten up the mood sometimes more on the art side than on the story side (laughter).