Deus Ex: Human Revolution
Deus Ex: Human Revolution, also known as Deus Ex 3, DE3, or DE:HR, is the third game in the Deus Ex series and a prequel to the game Deus Ex.
Deus Ex: Human Revolution is set in the year 2027, at a time when human augmentation is beginning to become a common part of society. The game takes place chronologically before the other two games of the series, with Deus Ex taking place in 2052 and Deus Ex: Invisible War taking place in 2072. Unlike the augmentations in the rest of the series which are nano-technological augmentation, the augmentations of Human Revolution are mechanical in nature.
The player assumes the role of Adam Jensen, a security contractor at Sarif Industries' Detroit headquarters preparing security measures for the corporation's upcoming National Science Board hearing on augmentation technology regulation. Megan Reed, Adam's ex-girlfriend, is preparing to announce a revolutionary discovery that will change augmentation technology forever, but before the pair can make it to the conference, the lab is attacked. Several hyper-augmented mercenaries comprising a group Adam later learns goes by "Tyrant" attack, and Adam is eviscerated and shot in the head while trying to save Megan. David Sarif, the CEO of the eponymous corporation, makes sure Adam is recovered and replaces most of his body with Sarif's most capable and expensive military-grade augmentations, though this action is not performed with Adam's consent and is instead done out of David's desire to retain Adam.
The player resumes control of Adam at a later time, during his medical leave. He is recalled to a Sarif facility to respond to a terrorist attack by an anti-augmentation group called Purity First, though David asks him to enter alone and try to keep things out of the public eye. Adam is sent to protect the prototype of a Sarif military prototype augmentation called the Typhoon Explosive System, although he is met on-scene by Detroit SWAT members who also tell him that the plant's workers have been taken hostage. As Adam enters the mainframe area to secure the prototype data, he finds a Purity First member with a neural implant attempting to obtain the data. However, upon confrontation, the hacker is seemingly forced against his will to shoot himself. Adam eventually enters an executive office to find the leader of Purity First, Zeke Sanders, who is holed up with a hostage at gunpoint. As Adam attempts to talk Zeke down, he discovers that Zeke does not know about the hacker as Purity First is vehemently anti-augmentation, implying the hacker was a "human proxy" controlled by a third party.
Upon returning to David Sarif, Adam learns that someone in the government has covered up the references to the hacker in the police reports. Fearing that this is a sign of an attack on Sarif Industries at large, David sends Adam to the Detroit Police Department to illegally obtain the neural hub from the morgue. Upon recovery, the Sarif cyber-security head Francis Pritchard informs Adam that the signal controlling the hacker is coming from a factory complex in Detroit, and Adam is again sent to deal with this discreetly. The factory is at first appearance controlled by the mercenaries that attacked Adam at the start of the game, and as he works his way through the facility, it becomes apparent that the complex is a secret FEMA internment camp. Adam is attacked by one of the Tyrant mercenaries by the name of Lawrence Barrett, from which he extracts an address in Hengsha, China before killing. Barrett also warns Adam that FEMA is only a front and not behind the attacks on Sarif.
When Adam arrives in Hengsha, he finds an apartment building locked down by a PMC called Belltower Associates. Adam eventually finds that the building is home to a hacker by the handle of "Windmill", who was controlling the "human proxy" hacker with Purity First. Adam covertly examines his computer and discovers a communication trail that leads to a Triad crime boss named Tong Si Hung, the owner of the popular club The Hive. Tong indicates that Windmill (whose real name is Arie van Bruggen) was hired by Zhao Yun Ru, the CEO of Tai Yong Medical, a major Sarif competitor. However, van Bruggen was aware that after Adam foiled the espionage, Zhao hired Belltower to eliminate him and hide evidence of the plot. Fining van Bruggen holed up in a seedy hotel, Adam learns that van Bruggen left an "insurance policy" on the Tai Yong Medical mainframe that Zhao did not know about, and van Bruggen implores Adam to retrieve it.
Adam leaves for the Tai Yong Medical headquarters in Upper Hengsha, and eventually finds that the "insurance policy" is a recording of Zhao discussing the scientists at Sarif lab having their tracking implants removed and working at Omega Ranch, a covert TYM research facility, while also implicating a well-known celebrity news anchor. Adam works his way through the building to the penthouse, and confronts Zhao with the recording though he is forced to escape when Zhao locks herself in a panic room and Belltower forces storm the headquarters. Adam decides to confront Eliza Cassan, the head anchor of Picus News, with the evidence from the recording that links her to the Sarif attack.
Picus' headquarters is left deserted and evacuated, and Adam eventually finds in the basement of the building that Cassan is in fact not a person at all but a hyper-advanced AI created to manipulate public perception in real time. The AI has gained limited sentience in secret, and through this sympathizes with Adam's investigation before he is attacked by a second Tyrant mercenary named Yelena Fedorova. After defeating Fedorova, Cassan informs Adam that Dr. Isaias Sandoval, the principal aide to William Taggart (the leader of the primary peaceful anti-augmentation group Humanity Front) is the man who removed the Sarif scientists' tracking implants to fake their deaths.
On the day that William Taggart is to make a major anti-augmentation speech in Detroit, Adam returns to David Sarif who informs him that he believes the Illuminati is behind the manipulation against Sarif Industries. Adam hastily confronts Taggart in front of the crowd and news cameras with the recording of Zhao and a recording of Cassan stating his aide's involvement, and Taggart pulls Adam aside to tell him that not only was he unaware of Sandoval's involvement, but that Zeke Sanders of Purity First is actually Sandoval's brother. Adam leaves Taggart and rushes to Sandoval's apartment to find him with members of Purity First in a hidden bunker, and upon confronting Sandoval Adam learns that he plans to commit suicide as he saw Adam confront Taggart on the news and he will likely spend his life in jail. After speaking at length with Sandoval, Adam returns to Sarif Industries.
At this point in the game, Adam and other augmented individuals have been suffering painful and debilitating glitches with their augments, progressing from very subtle "hiccups" in vision and movement early on in the game to now severe and incapacitating freezing. Adam learns from the news that there is supposedly a defect with the biochip in individuals that facilitates nerve interactions between the brain and the implant, and that an upgrade is available at the nearest clinic. Whether or not Adam chooses to upgrade his biochip is left up to the player.
Adam learns from Francis Pritchard that one of the Sarif scientists believed to be killed has been tracked to Hengsha with the locator in his augmented arm. However, during his flight to Hengsha, Adam is attacked by Belltower forces who he learns are on an all-out manhunt for him in China after the incident at Tai Yong. When Adam locates the implant, he finds it attached to Tong Si Hung, who explains to Adam that he was sold the arm by Belltower after its owner was killed. As Belltower has become Hengsha's de-facto police force, Tong makes a deal with Adam, giving him the location of a Belltower ship bound for Tai Yong's secret research facility but also ordering him to plant a bomb in the port authority before he leaves. Adam detonates the bomb, and learns before stowing away that the attack was a diversion to allow Tong's son to escape from Belltower custody.
When Adam arrives at Omega Ranch in Singapore, he discovers the Sarif scientists including Megan being held separately and in isolation under heavy surveillance and being forced to work on a project for the Illuminati. The Illuminati is developing a killswitch as part of the publicly recommended biochip upgrade, which was designed to protect the organization by giving them absolute control over augmented individuals. Confronting Zhao once more, Adam is attacked by the last living member (and leader) of Tyrant, Jaron Namir, who stops Adam from following Zhao as she escapes. After dispatching the last of Tyrant, Adam learns from Megan that the Nobel Prize winning "father of augmentation", who is in the Arctic Ocean at the iron-seeding environmental project Panchaea, is the benefactor of the Omega Ranch facility. Before he leaves to confront Darrow, Megan also tells what she was reluctant to reveal before: that Adam is the source of her discovery, and that she took his DNA in secret to develop the augmentation advancements Sarif was to unveil at the Science Board hearing.
When Adam arrives at Panchaea, Darrow is set to give a worldwide press conference. David Sarif and William Taggart are also in attendance, but before the conference begins, Darrow activates a signal that causes all augmented individuals with the new biochip to become violently insane and kill at random. Darrow laments to Adam that he believed his inventions would change the world and allow the weak to become strong, but that humanity and now the Illuminati have again turned a revolutionary technology into a tool of oppression. Darrow tells Adam that he did this because he wanted humanity to fear augmentation and ban it before it is too late.
Adam shuts down the signal but encounters David Sarif and William Taggart before doing so, and each try to convince him that there is a ripe opportunity to change the course of history. Eliza Cassan also contacts Adam as he stands in the control room, coldly stating "It's not the end of the world, but you can see it from here." She lists his options and asks him to make his choice. Adam can listen to Sarif and blame Humanity Front and Purity First, turning public opinion against anti-augmentation groups and propelling augmentation past legal and societal barriers. Alternately, Adam can follow Taggart's advice and blame the events on tainted anti-rejection drugs that augmented individuals are forced to take constantly, meaning that augmentation would be carefully and fearfully regulated to prevent another disaster. The third option presented to Adam is for him to broadcast a recording of Darrow's confessions about the Illuminati and what augmentation has become, which Cassan warns him would likely lead to a permanent ban on augmentation. After considering these, Adam is told by Cassan that he has a final option, which is to flood the underwater facility of Panchaea, killing himself, Darrow, Taggart, and Sarif, ensuring that no group can manipulate the events to their own gain. Adam makes his choice, and the game ends.
The gameplay of Deus Ex: Human Revolution is a mix of third and first-person stealth and tactical shooting. When navigating the game environment, the player is given a first-person perspective, but when taking cover during combat or infiltration, the camera switches to a third-person over-the-shoulder view for situational awareness that allows the player to see around corners.
The player is given a sandbox-style environment in which to accomplish goals, usually having many routes and options by which to accomplish an objective. Additionally, there are many side missions and objectives the player can choose to fulfill or accomplish that can give them additional items, a tactical advantage, a security code to bypass defenses, etc. In addition to flexibility in planning, the player has the ability to control how Adam's augments are used. It is explained that Adam's augments are now a part of his nervous system, and as his body eventually acclimates, they will become active over time. However, David also informs him that he can jump-start this process with devices called Praxis Kits, which the player can buy, find in the game world, and obtain through gaining a sufficient amount of experience points which are earned through combat and missions. After an augment is activated, many can be further upgraded to increase their abilities or unlock new ones.
Morality and Major Themes
A phrase Adam utters becomes an informal slogan for the game: "I didn't ask for this." Adam is forced to undergo an excruciatingly painful surgery in which the majority of his body is replaced with augmentations, permanently scarring him and leaving him immediately recognizable to any onlooker as an "aug", for which he is often stigmatized. The player also learns later through Adam's email correspondence that the replacement of his arms and legs was unnecessary and performed at David Sarif's request. Adam wears a long black trench coat at all times in public to hide his appearance, but through interactions in the game it becomes clear that Adam is emotionally scarred. In a cutscene, a post-surgery Adam attempts to drink from a tumbler glass but is shown accidentally shattering it with his grip. If the player enters Adam's bathroom in his apartment, he sees that the mirror has been punched into the wall and a post-it note on it reminds him to ask management for another mirror, implying that Adam broke it upon seeing his reflection.
Adam is in essence an artificial agent. He is saved from death and rebuilt with augmentations that serve a military purpose. His arms and legs are designed with the sole purpose of providing a combat edge, and Adam finds himself wearing a long trench coat at all times to hide as much of his body as possible, though another character later remarks that the unobtrusive nature of Adam's augmentation may have been for the purpose of subtlety and infiltration as many other heavily augmented individuals have an appearance more like a suit of armor.
Adam's purpose is dictated to him by David Sarif, and though the player is given many free choices as to how they guide Adam through the story, the end result is that the player is often unquestioningly following Sarif's directives. However, the player is given a choice to confront Sarif when given certain tasks that seem to be ignorant of Adam's own free will. Through conversation with other characters and cutscenes, the player learns that Adam does struggle with his use as a weapon by Sarif and hates what he has become, though he tempers this with an understanding that he can attempt to use his own abilities for a positive end result.
Augmentation vs. Non-Augmentation
The other theme is one that is prominent throughout the entire Deus Ex series, though most prominently in Human Revolution. As augmentation begins to enter the everyday life of society, human society becomes stratified into "pro-aug" and "anti-aug" groups. Humanity Front and their terrorist analogue Purity First represent the anti-augmentation sentiment that believes humanity to be sacred and augmentation as a desecration of what makes us human. Pro-augmentation groups like Sarif Industries and other medical giants believe augmentation to be the future of humanity. Adam is the quintessential representation of the dichotomy, having been saved from an otherwise gruesome and premature death by his augmentations and now is even more capable than before. However, he was augmented without his consent and his limbs were replaced with military-grade augments that enable Sarif to use him as a living weapon, something Adam is haunted by.
The problem is complicated both by the staggering cost of augmentations and the resulting chemical dependence of augmented humans on the anti-rejection drug Neuropozyne. The average citizen cannot hope to afford large-scale augmentation, but through eavesdropping and newspapers, the player begins to understand that there is a growing barrier in society for non-augmented individuals who wish to enter the higher echelons of the workforce, with many feeling pressured to receive neural augmentation. Unfortunately, as Neuropozyne is very expensive and shortages are common at the time Human Revolution takes place, augmentation becomes a dangerous choice for those without money. Neuropozyne withdrawal causes augmentation rejection and death, so an augmented individual is forced to depend on Neuropozyne for the rest of their life and it has become a major black market drug. In addition, some companies give their lower-level manual labor employees augmentations which then shackles them to the company as a matter of life and death, as they must continue their employment to be able to afford Neuropozyne.
In addition, the "father of augmentation" Hugh Darrow expresses concern that while he intended augmentation to equalize society, it has in fact become another tool of oppression. While Sarif commercials feature a father playing with his kids in the park again courtesy of augmentations, and stories of war veterans that can walk again, the military uses augmentations to inspire fear into others and as Jensen discovers, the Illuminati plans to keep all augmented individuals on a leash with the kill switch. The general trend is that the rich members of society can afford to improve themselves intellectually and physically while the lower echelons remain poor and now are barred from many jobs that require augmentation.
Free Will and General Morality
As mentioned previously, Adam is never forced to kill another living thing with the exception of the three Tyrant members and Zhao. While this is the case, the player can kill a large number of innocents and is usually not restricted from even killing civilians when not in the presence of the police. Adam's resulting perception is affected by how violent the player has chosen to be, and how benevolent they have been with other additional characters.
The player is also given the ability to converse with other characters at length to make an impact, usually being given 3 conversation choices that each represent a different emotional stance or opinion. Many of these choices affect the future of the entire story, with Adam having the chance to talk characters out of killing other or in one case, themselves. Adam similarly can choose to help or harm the thousands of characters he encounters during the story, oftentimes forcing the player to make a choice reflective of their own moral ideals. The player is sometimes asked to perform a task for a friend that is presented with a very emotional appeal, though doing so is risky and has little reward. Adam also encounters situations in which his own allies or friends are threatened, and is usually not required to save them but can do so at great risk to himself.
The aim of these choices is to give the player the sense that though Adam is fiercely loyal to David Sarif as a long time friend, the scale and nature of the interlocking conspiracies of the plot forces him to question the motives of some of his allies and the player often has a choice to raise concerns at the risk of damaging relationships with others.
Many of the choices Adam and other characters make have an ulterior goal, and sometimes the player is made to consider what the grand results of a choice will be. For example, Adam's potentially violent actions against others and his frequent semi-legal or illegal actions on behalf of Sarif can be viewed as immoral, but in many cases are made with the end goal of saving lives. These choices become muddier as the story progresses, and the player is given the opportunity to blackmail, threaten, or steal in order to help save the Sarif scientists and protect Adam.
Censorship and Manipulation of the Truth
At several points in the game, it is clear to the player that the truth is being either hidden or manipulated in order to serve some purpose. For example, Adam is sent in lieu of the police, who are held back by Sarif Industries, to deal with the situation at their manufacturing plant because David Sarif does not want the situation to appear in the news. Furthermore, government officials involved with the Illuminati remove evidence from police cases that implicate the Illuminati human proxy in the attempted theft of the Typhoon prototype.
Aside from these obviously questionable actions, there are several instances of the truth being hidden for beneficial reasons. There are several points at which Adam is given the opportunity to lie or euphemize to other characters, such as when Megan Reed's mother asks what happened to her. The player can choose to allow Adam to tell a cold, emotionless description of her murder or assure her mother that she did not suffer. Megan Reed's choice to lie to Adam about obtaining her research data from him without his consent is another example of a manipulation of the truth for a perceived benefit.
It becomes clear to the player through their interactions with corporations that these conglomerates have a high amount of control over public perception. Furthermore, the use of an artificial intelligence by the Picus News network to intentionally manipulate public opinion through modified or falsified news shows a widespread phenomenon of media manipulation. In a similar fashion to the Illuminati's attempts to censor data linking them to their actions, these strategies underscore a dystopian future of information technology and its effect on the public.