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Deus Ex vs. Dishonored
Deus Ex: Human Revolution and Dishonored are two action games that released this generation that challenged players with choice in way other games haven’t. While choice is nothing new to video games, both of these titles gave options in not just how the game concluded but in how you interacted with the world. It’s possible to sneak through both of these games without alerting a single enemy. Players are actually able to complete each title without killing or even alerting a single person. Such a concept seems trivial on paper, but in practice, it makes for a unique experience. Deus Ex and Dishonored certainly aren’t the first action games that made it possible to sneak through the entire game without harming anyone (Metal Gear Solid comes to mind), but their execution in doing so is something to be noted.
Deus Ex and Dishonored have more similarities than simply choice. Both games focus on stealth gameplay, involve the protagonist earning unique powers and abilities, feature unusual settings, and have multiple endings. If I didn’t know any better, I would say they were both made by the same developer. Below I’ll give my input on multiple shared facets between both games and give you my determination on which game succeeds better at what it set out to do.
Deus Ex: Human Revolution takes place in 2027 Detroit and China where security robots, holographic stop signs, and gene manipulation are complete norms. A small percentage of the population has the ability to augment their genetic code, making them stronger, faster, and smarter. The protagonist is one of these so-called Auggies, although not by choice. After nearly dying at the hands of terrorists that attacked the company he worked security for, Adam Jensen goes on a quest to avenge the death of his fellow employees with his new augmented powers. The story and setting are decent, but nothing spectacular.
Dishonored has a less cliché setting. While the plot is a typical revenge tale at its core, the city of Dunwall is entirely unique. The crumbling, dystopian, steampunk-esque city is one of them most memorable this console generation. Dunwall almost acts like its own character, a living and breathing entity in its own right. The protagonist, Corvo, is framed for murdering the Empress and kidnapping her daughter Emily, the two people he was sworn to protect. After escaping prison, the player joins a faction seeking to end the reign of the madman who killed the Empress to gain the throne. While the plot is more or less a clichéd vengeance tale, it’s the setting and different characters that make Dishonored great.
The Edge: Dishonored
Dishonored’s atmosphere, characters, and the brilliant city of Dunwall are too great to even give Deus Ex a chance to compete.
Deus Ex features four endings, and while basically the same cutscene plays for each with a different narrated voiceover for each choice, the options presented at the story’s conclusion carry weight and truly make the player think about the final action they’ll take. Without spoiling anything, the player must essentially choose the Earth’s fate, bringing the plot’s ending to a thrilling climax with consequences larger than the player and the protagonist ever anticipated.
Dishonored’s narrative conclusion is based on nothing more than the chaos you caused throughout each mission, which is based principally on how many enemies you killed overall. The choice of whether to end a single enemy guard’s life or not could essentially separate players from the “good” and “bad” endings. Overall, this is kind of a weak way to determine how the game will play out, but it is what it is.
The Edge: Deus Ex
Deus Ex’s final decisions carry some weight with players whereas Dishonored’s endings are essentially just a result of your body count.
Both of these titles claim that you can run and gun if that’s what you desire, but only Dishonored truly gives you that option. Start shooting everyone you meet in Deus Ex and you’ll be killed by a mechanical security guard before you can even turn around. While both games are easier to complete playing sneakily, only Dishonored gives players actual free reign in how they wish to play. Want to teleport around the map while crossbowing enemies in their heads as you freeze time? Go for it. Wish to summon a swarm of rats to devour guards alive as you throw a razor mine into an adversary’s face? Cool. However, try any of that stuff in Deus Ex and you’re likely to get killed before you even get started. Kills in Human Revelations have to be carefully calculated, and an escape route is essential.
The Edge: Dishonored
All-in-all, Dishonored is more fluid and fun experience than the difficult antics of Deus Ex.
Both Deus Ex and Dishonored feature an array of cool powers to use to your advantage as you play. While the former’s abilities are based around a sci-fi theme, the latter’s feature a more fantastical twist. In Deus Ex, you can go invisible, look and punch through walls, see guards’ vision cones when sneaking through areas, hack enemy robots and turrets, and more using your genetically enhanced body. Dishonored has far fewer powers, but each one is bliss to use. Some of the powers Corvo can utilize include bending time, instantaneously teleporting or “blinking” to different locations, spawning a group of hungry rats to consume corpses and enemies, possessing others’ bodies, and throwing adversaries out of the way with a powerful blast of wind. What’s great about both games is that you’ll never be able to use every ability in one playthrough, forcing completionists to play them multiple times to experience every power.
The Edge: Tie
While Deus Ex does have a wider range of abilities to use, several of them are next to worthless whereas all of Dishonored’s limited array of abilities have a significant use if utilized correctly.
One thing that gives Deus Ex an edge in terms of gameplay is its catalogue of weapons. While Corvo only has his sword, a crossbow, and a pistol at his disposal, Jensen has over 20 weapons he can use to rain death upon his foes. While it’s much harder in Human Revolution to get away with wildly killing your foes, the wide array of guns makes the task much easier. Almost every weapon is customizable as well, meaning silencing your pistol and adding extended magazines and laser sights to your assault rifles is a definite possibility.
The Edge: Deus Ex
If you’re a gun lover, Deus Ex’s mountain of weapons will scratch that itch more than Dishonored’s few measly firearms will.
When playing Deus Ex, prepare to see yellow. A lot of it. The entire world has an overcoat of this unique tint, and where it isn’t yellow, it’s black. The world feels dank and gloomy as you roam the alleys of future Detroit and China, and while that’s intended, the game feels void of the element that gives it a feeling of being believable. The areas you’re allowed to roam are claustrophobic and make you feel trapped despite the fact that they’re supposed to be part of a large city, which makes them less realistic.
The city of Dunwall is similar, but what separates it from Deus Ex’s setting is the emotion of despair you feel roaming the ruins of this plague-invested town. The depressed and hopeless civilians roaming the streets and the corpses lying in crumbling apartments add to this feeling of desperation. The character models themselves are lucid and animated, almost caricatures of real people, which gives them a unique appearance and feeling.
The Edge: Dishonored
There’s something special about the artwork and emotion that went into Dishonored that the yellow-tinted streets and realistic characters of Deus Ex can’t compare to.
Both of these games are good. If you’re a fan of unusual first-person shooters featuring a superpower twist, Deus Ex and Dishonored are right up your alley, and if you enjoy one, you’ll likely enjoy the other. But when it comes right down to it, if you could only play one, Dishonored is the game to go with. The unique and animated characters, interesting art style, unusual powers, and the bleak city of Dunwall are just too great to pass up. If it’s any consolation, Deus Ex is a close second.