I’ve had mixed feelings when it has come to the GO series of mobile games from Square Enix. I loved Hitman GO, but was disappointed with Lara Croft GO. So, when it was announced that Deus Ex would be getting similar treatment, I obviously was hoping it would channel the former more than the latter—and it seems my hopes were answered.

Deus Ex GO opens with series protagonist Adam Jensen on a mission for Task Force 29. He must infiltrate an office building under attack by terrorists and save a man named Novak who is being held hostage. Jensen is too late, however, and Novak is executed. But, as is often the case in the world of Deus Ex, there’s more going on than meets the cybernetic eye. As Adam’s detective instincts kick in, he starts asking questions and pulling on loose threads, uncovering a dastardly plot that he must put a stop to.

It’s hard to tell exactly where in the timeline Deus Ex GO lands, but considering Adam is already working for Task Force 29, it has to at least be close to the beginning of Mankind Divided. If so, this serves as a nice way to help flesh out the universe even more, offering another way to bring some light to the lesser characters around Adam and the state of the world in 2029.

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Just like in previous GO games, Deus Ex GO plays out across dozens of levels. In this case, every new location is comprised of a few levels that Adam typically has to infiltrate as he digs deeper into this latest conspiracy. Each one has an overlay of dots on it, and Adam can move to them one at a time like spaces on a board game. Enemies and obstacles move at the same time as our hero, however—and if Adam moves the wrong way into the path of either, he dies and has to restart the level.

What I loved about Deus Ex GO is that, right from the start, it lets you know it’s not pulling any punches. Even putting aside the couple of times you’ll likely die when new enemies or mechanics are introduced (and you learn via some trial and error), Deus Ex GO is challenging, forcing you to re-think strategies often. There were even a few moments where I admit to getting suck and using one of the two “hacks” the game starts you off with, which can be used to automatically solve a level (with more available for purchase via microtransactions). It’s a brilliant brainteaser of an experience, and I enjoyed figuring out how to turn turrets, soldiers, and robots against each other—and to my advantage—as the game went on.

Of course, what’s also so great about Deus Ex GO is that it plays into the themes of the main series well. Stealth and hacking are at the core of Deus Ex, and Adam’s repertoire is built around this. By collecting well-placed charges around levels, Adam can activate powers—more of which he acquires as the game goes on—that assist him in advancing past each stage. From remote hacking terminals that change paths or turn turrets friendly, to making Adam invisible for one movement, or even later on to a gun that removes an enemy from the field, it felt like Square Enix Montreal was able to boil down the core of Deus Ex and put it in this neat little package.

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There’s also a lot of content here considering how long it might take you to figure out some of the puzzles if you don’t use the hacks. There are literally dozens of levels, plus daily bonus stages with rewards if you can beat every bonus stage during a particular week. It’s sad that the map editor didn’t make the launch of Deus Ex GO, but being able to build my own maniacal deathtraps and share them with friends adds way more replayability than previous GO titles, and I can’t wait until that arrives.

Unfortunately, like a poor stealth run in Mankind Divided, Deus Ex GO does trip a few alarms. The most noticeable (from a technical standpoint) is that the game crashes relatively frequently. It seemed around every few stages or so I’d be catapulted out of the game and back to my iPad main screen. I’m sure bugs like this will be smoothed out in the future, but it did become annoying after the third or fourth time it happened.

There’s also the fact that this is the GO series’ third game, and I think it’s time to start upping the presentation a little. The simplicity of a board game worked for Hitman GO, because it felt like Square Enix Montreal went all in with that motif. As they moved away from that in Lara Croft GO and here, and started crafting scenes that look like they belong in their respective character’s worlds, I can’t help but feel they then should go full boar with the presentation if that’s the way they want to go. It was so dull just looking at a static picture of Adam Jensen as single lines of dialogue popped up on a gray screen—give us some cutscenes between stage shifts, record some voiceovers, offer up a motion comic or two, or something.

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Deus Ex GO might not be running perfectly here at launch, and the presentation is a tad lackluster, but the gameplay provides a fun and challenging experience worthy of the franchise. With dozens of stages available at launch, along with weekly challenges, and the post-launch map editor on the way, there’s plenty of content that’ll keep you coming back for more once all the pieces are in place. As is, Deus Ex GO is a solid puzzler that should serve as a nice fix for those Deus Ex fans always on the move.

Publisher: Square Enix • Developer: Square Enix Montreal • ESRB Date: N/A • Release Date: 08.18.16
7.5
Does a great job of channeling the core of the Deus Ex series into a fun and challenging mobile title. Glitches and poor presentation hold the game back, though, at least here at launch.
The Good Puzzles are no pushover, while staying true to the Deus Ex universe.
The Bad A lot of crashing and instability. Presentation needs work.
The Ugly How much I want to see the map builder feature, which isn’t coming until a future update.
Deus Ex GO is available on iOS and Android. Primary version reviewed was for iOS. Review code was provided by Square Enix for the benefit of this review. EGM reviews games on a scale of 1 to 10, with a 5.0 being average.
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