You may have missed out on the brief but intense period of hype prior to Square Enix’s official announcement of their new title, Deus Ex: The Fall. If so, and if you’re a fan of the Deus Ex series, then you should probably count yourself lucky. The vague, teasing tweets that Deus Ex: Human Revolution developer Eidos Montréal released in the week leading up to the reveal had many people speculating that a brand new game in the main series was on the way.
This excitement almost certainly contributed to the levels of backlash when it was revealed that Deus Ex: The Fall would be only be a small spinoff game available exclusively for the iPhone and iPad. The announcement video on YouTube currently has over 90% downvotes, and the new E3 gameplay trailer, shown below, isn’t doing much better; the number of people making “I never asked for this” jokes has gone through the roof.
If you’ve played through Deus Ex: Human Revolution, then you’ll no doubt recognize that the gameplay mechanics of Deus Ex: The Fall shown in this video and screenshots are almost all lifted from the main game (though some of the graphics are more on par with the original Deus Ex). You collect Praxis points to spend on augmentations, earn experience by killing or incapacitating enemies (or through other achievements within the level), use air vents to stealth your way around levels or tackle opponents head-on whilst making use of chest-high walls for cover, and use the hacking minigame to obtain access to locked areas and e-mails on people’s computers.
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Rather than following the further exploits of Adam Jensen however, the protagonist of Deus Ex: The Fall is ex-SAS soldier Ben Saxon, who also has a heavily mechanized body, but whose story revolves around his connection with antagonist Jaron Namir and his cronies.
The very fact that Deus Ex: The Fall looks like a genuinely decent addition to the series only makes it all the more baffling that Square Enix would elect to release it exclusively for iOS. That’s not to say that it’s impossible to make action RPG or FPS games work on mobile or tablet devices, since while they may be best known for casual games like Angry Birds and Plants vs. Zombies, iOS releases include good quality action RPGs like Infinity Blade and shooters like Call of Duty: Zombies. It’s also not uncommon for large gaming franchises, such as Assassin’s Creed, to release extraneous games for handheld devices.
However, Deus Ex is not nearly as prolific a franchise as Assassin’s Creed or Call of Duty. In the space of 11 years there were only three Deus Ex games released, and all three of those were released on PC (the first game was also released on PlayStation, the second on Xbox, and the third on all three platforms), meaning that the core fanbase of the series is PC gamers, with console gamers a close second. The story of Deus Ex: The Fall is directly based on the plot of Deus Ex: Human Revolution and the tie-in novel, Deus Ex: The Fall. As a result, its appeal to casual gamers is bound to be fairly limited, whereas its appeal to the core fanbase would have been very strong.
For all intents and purposes, Deus Ex: The Fall appears to be a piece of downloadable content for Deus Ex: Human Revolution that accidentally lost its way and ended up on the wrong platform. It uses the same systems for combat, hacking, and augmentations as the primary game, and seems to offer a more fleshed out insight into the Tyrants – who got barely any screen time in the main game, to the point that it was unclear in boss battles who they were or why Adam Jensen was fighting them – and would almost certainly have sold a healthy number of units if it had been designed for download on PC, PS3 and Xbox 360.
It’s possible that Deus Ex: The Fall will find an audience on the iOS systems, whether in casual gamers who are willing to give it a chance despite not being familiar with the previous games, or core fans of the series who own iOS devices and use them for gaming. The staggering number of downvotes on the gameplay videos so far however, are a portentous early omen for the spinoff game’s success.
Priced at $6.99, the first installment of Deus Ex: The Fall will be available this summer on iOS systems.