Deus Ex: Mankind Divided

By on on Adult

Disability Game Review: Deus Ex: Mankind Divided

A couple of weeks ago I posted on the DAGERS Facebook that I was a bit disappointment with the accessibility of Deus Ex: Mankind Divided. Unfortunately for my readers I then went silent. The truth was that Deus Ex: Mankind Divided was one of the hardest games that I’ve ever had the responsibility to review. Both from a physical standpoint and an ethical standpoint because of my love of the game. To be blunt, compared to its predecessor Deus Ex: Human Revolution which was one of DAGERS first diamond award nominees, Deus Ex: Mankind Divided is a mess and should be avoided by all but the most passionate disabled fans.

Players with fine motor disabilities may remember that one of the major selling points of Deus Ex: Human Revolution was the amount of flexibility that players had when determining how to equip Jensen with various augmentations and weapons. This core flexibility is still there, players can position Jensen anywhere on the spectrum from a tank that goes in guns blazing to a non-lethal infiltrator that vanishes without a trace once the mission is complete. The game seems to support this idea by giving the player a relatively open world with multiple approaches to each objective. Unfortunately, many players will not be able to access this due to a physical control scheme that is extremely inflexible. For example, during my playthrough of Deus Ex: Human Revolution I was able to keep Jensen in stealth mode by toggling the crouch button while I manipulated the rest of the controls. Puzzlingly, this simple option is gone. If players want to use the stealth functions in Deus Ex: Mankind Divided they will have to use multiple fingers on both hand simultaneously in order to efficiently use the stealth mechanic. To make matters worse, there is not much controller customization. It is true that there are some presets but these presets are completely static and none of them do anything to alleviate the major accessibility problem stated above. This barrier pushed me into a situation where I spent all of Jensen’s initial upgrade points to make stealth his primary weapon and then realized that the stealth mechanic is completely inaccessible and as a result will have to restart the game in order to progress through it.

Due to the fine motor barriers hindering my progression through the game I cannot speak as definitively about the visual barriers as I would prefer but can say that contrast is a major issue with a lot of the subtitles. Early on in the game there is a sequence where Jensen gets evaluated by a psychiatrist. This is a major element in setting up the story but the subtitles that accompany the psychiatrist’s dialogue are obscured due to the fact that they are displayed in white text over a glowing yellow monitor that the psychiatrist is sitting behind which makes them illegible even for the non-visually impaired. In order for this game to be truly considered visually accessible, the subtitles should have the same drop-shadow as the rest of the HUD but the lack of this feature means that I cannot recommend it to the average visually impaired gamer.

Problems with the subtitles will perhaps impact the hearing impaired. It is true that all the dialogue is adequately subtitled but that’s it. None of the ambient dialogue or other important noises such as guards response to Jensen are displayed using anything but sound and small hard to see icons. As a result hearing impaired players will not be able to use the stealth mechanic unless they are able to see the screen clear enough to see the visual indicators Eidos has provided for guard alerts and other auditory cues.

On the whole, Deus ex mankind divided is a major accessibility disappointment. I’m a huge fan of the series but am forced to admit that even though the gameplay lets players choose how they would like to approach situations and therefore very is flexible. The hardware mechanics of the game are so inflexible that most players with fine motor disabilities should avoid this title. Problems with the subtitling system and visual interface spell much the same for visually and auditory impaired gamers.

Overall Rating: Partially Accessible
Visual Rating: Partially Accessible
Fine-Motor Rating: Partially Accessible
Auditory Rating: Partially Accessible
Released For: PS4, Xbox One, PC
ESRB Rating: M

Josh Straub

Written by: Josh Straub

At the end of his internship with GameInformer magazine, Josh Straub graduated from Southwest Minnesota State University with a degree in creative writing and history. His earliest gaming memories are of looking over his father’s shoulder while he played Warcraft 2. While these experiences gave him a deep appreciation for the RTS genre, Josh seeks to play games across all genres and platforms due to his interest in game accessibility for the disabled. This interest stems from too many experiences in which he has hurled his controller across the room after finding out that a game was inaccessible, due to his Cerebral Palsy. Because of his wide exposure and interest in games, Josh appreciates the story of a game more than any other element, especially because the stories of the games of his childhood provided him with an invaluable sense of escape from his disability.

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