Oftentimes when you’re reading or watching good critique, you’ll find something that resonates with you on a special level – it doesn’t necessarily have to be an exact shared experience, but it’s a comment or feeling that seamlessly pulls you back into a world that you may have forgotten about. Fellow YouTuber Hbomberguy’s most recent video, a three-plus‑hour look at Deus Ex: Human Revolution, is filled with such moments that take me back to all of those hacking minigames and exaggerated tints that really defined the Xbox 360, when a game like Human Revolution was seen as something of an alternative to the more generic first-person and cover shooters that littered the shop shelves.
A little over ten years on, Human Revolution hasn’t really stuck around in people’s memory – it’s a game that dips its toes back into the immersive sim genre that the original Deus Ex defined, but it doesn’t dive all the way in. People probably remember the poor-quality boss fights, or Adam Jensen’s line about how he didn’t ask for his augmentations. The Hbomberguy video goes a lot deeper, highlighting the things that still make the game worth a look while also exposing problems that go a lot deeper than the bosses, and how Eidos-Montréal struggled to try and improve on the original Deus Ex. In a broader sense, it highlights the troubles with triple-A and how it makes producing a game like the original nearly impossible these days – if major problems with the game’s design arise during production, the amount of people and money involved makes it so much harder to fix them in a meaningful way. There may not be a good answer to this issue, considering just how big this business is.
The one part of the video that really took me back, though, was Hbomberguy’s idea that most people probably played the game for 10 to 15 hours and had a decent amount of fun with it, but at a certain point they just… stopped. Something else came around, and the game was left behind. That definitely spoke to me, as it’s exactly the experience I had with Human Revolution – I played it a fair bit and enjoyed it, but left it somewhere around the end of Hengsha and never went back. No wonder then that the sequel, Mankind Divided, never really had a chance, and that we’re probably not getting another Deus Ex game anytime soon. In those days, Human Revolution was hardly alone – it didn’t seem like too many people actually ended up finishing games back then. Were they too bloated? Too similar to each other? Or did they just not offer enough to hold interest? Another sign of good critique is offering up these questions to think about, and wondering if they still hold true today. If you can make 213 minutes free in your planner, then you might want to have a look at the video yourself and travel back to that sea of orange.