Deus Ex: What Happened?

And here we are, nearly four months after I said I’d be picking up the pace on Deus Ex soon. I have a history of dragging my heels in this game, but I seem to be a lot worse about it this time around than in my 2010 sally: in six months, I still haven’t covered the same ground as in two weeks back then. What happened? I’ll tell you what.

When we last left off, I was, as per the post title, “nearing the turn” where player character J. C. Denton finally turns against his fellow UNATCO agents in a really noticeable way, whether the player wants him to or not. As I mentioned before, this is the point where I had previously avoided a long and difficult firefight down the stairs of a multi-story building by instead jumping off the roof, an act made survivable by a leg upgrade I had acquired. This time around, I didn’t have the leg augmentation. After spending some time backtracking to see if I could find it, I hit up a walkthrough and learned that I had missed it several levels back, in a place I couldn’t access any more without replaying a largish section of the game. This was fairly discouraging! The upgrade isn’t completely essential, of course, but I felt cheated out of the option of using it. (This may well be the core attitude that makes me ill-suited for this game.) I knew I wasn’t going any further until I got the upgrade, and I didn’t feel like replaying so much right away, so I stopped dead and lost all momentum.

And once in that state, I had a hard time getting out of it. Back in real life, I was working on a contract that I found particularly draining, and which left me too tired to play anything as involving and demanding as a Deus Ex. I instead spent my free time during these months playing a number of low-effort and low-context games, like idle games and tower defenses, two genres of game that you largely play passively. I played quite a lot of Train Valley 2 — it has several DLC packages now, some of which are just curated collections of Steam Workshop levels that you could play for free individually. I bought those collections anyway, to avoid the burden of choosing. That’s the state of mind I was in.

The contract ended in June, and I took a bit of a break to recover. But by then, there was another obstacle to resuming Deus Ex: It was summer. As I’ve mentioned before, this is a very dark game, not just in tone but in actual illumination. You really need to play it in a reasonably dark room just to be able to see what’s going on. My current apartment captures enough sunlight to make it basically unplayable during daylight hours, even with the blinds closed. And daylight hours currently last well into the evening. So, no more conspiracy-busting for me until autumn.

In the meantime, this month has given us both a major Steam sale and this year’s ParserComp. Let’s go with ParserComp for now. There’s a modest 16 entries, and enough time left in the judging period to vote on all of them if I get cracking.

2 Comments so far

  1. Jason Dyer on 25 Jul 2023

    I don’t remember the firefight right after the turn being particularly tricky (compared to a couple others in the game, at least) but there’s enough variety that happens with skill picks it is really hard to compare experiences.

    (But my lack of memory of a firefight is distinct enough you might see if there’s some other clever way of getting out.)

    Certainly at least I didn’t know about the “jump off the building” option until you mentioned it.

  2. Arthegall on 27 Jul 2023

    So glad to see you back in the saddle!

    All the upgrades come up more than once, I believe, and there’s optionality about how to approach any encounter as I know you know.

    Enjoy your summer diversions. Look forward to when you’re able to pick it up again.

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