Hitman GO transformed a gritty triple-A console stealth title into an adorable clockwork boardgame.
It was a surprise instant mobile classic and was swiftly followed by Lara Croft GO, which reworked the titular tomb raider’s adventures as a visually stunning and atmospheric turn-based puzzler. With Deus Ex GO, Square Enix hopes to keep its winning streak alive with a stylised take on cyberpunk Adam Jensen’s infiltration shenanigans.
From the off, this latest entry in the series will be familiar territory to GO aficionados, but still broadly accessible to newcomers.
Each single-screen level takes place on a patchwork of nodes; you sneak about between them, aiming to reach an exit by any means necessary.
With the game’s turn-based nature, success hinges on understanding enemy behaviours and manipulating the environment. On spotting you, guards don armour and head your way; gun emplacements fire as you enter their line of sight; and robots go for you should you stray too near.
But bullets aside, movement happens a node at a time for everything – this is Deus Ex by way of chess, not frantic fumbling with a virtual d-pad while gawping at a lowish-res take on a first-person console outing.
That means it pays to think, not wildly blunder onwards. Sometimes, you’ll find you can sneak behind foes to deal with them, but Deus Ex GO’s pathways are more often designed to make you consider several moves ahead.
You manipulate guards into blundering towards a turret’s projectiles, use you augmentations for temporary invisibility, and ‘hack’ systems through yellow computer terminals some idiot apparently secured using the world’s worst passwords.
Deus Ex whoa
The world in which this puzzling occurs feels authentic, with art and music recalling the console titles. However, this has variable results.
Hitman GO’s adult themes were muted by diorama-like visuals, but Deus Ex GO’s hackneyed plot is most remarkable for an eye-popping level of profanity. And despite being gore-free, there’s a brutality in Jensen’s neck-snapping and unsportsmanlike use of elbow blades unmatched by Agent 47 literally knocking enemies off the game board in his GO outing. This shift feels out of place.
Deus Ex GO also lacks imagination and freshness. There’s nothing that quite compares with Hitman GO’s audaciousness or Lara Croft GO’s breathtaking beauty and palpable sense of atmosphere. But even if Deus Ex GO ultimately boils down to ‘more of the same with a different skin’, that’s not necessarily a bad thing.
It still looks great, and there’s hours of entertainment to be had, pitting your wits against dozens of expertly crafted puzzles.