Puzzle games and stealth adventures share many similarities. To succeed at both, you need to be smart, cunning, and calculated. You need to plan your moves several steps ahead, and you need to know exactly how everything around you is going to react. Sometimes you get lucky and fall headfirst into an unlikely solution. And both can empower you in ways that don't require you to pull a trigger and kill. Deus Ex Go excels at empowering players through the act of smart planning, and it doesn't let up until you've cleaned out every available puzzle.
Deus Ex Go is the newest entry in Square Enix's Go series, which converts franchises like Hitman and Tomb Raider into puzzle games. In Deus Ex Go, you control series protagonist Adam Jensen like you would a chess piece, moving around a board-like area, taking out enemies and slipping out of their paths. Each level requires you to get to the exit, while myriad obstacles--such as turrets, robots, and blocked paths--prevent you from heading directly to it. Many of the roadblocks require you to hack your way past them by visiting a terminal and drawing a path between it and the object you want to manipulate.
Solving Deus Ex Go's puzzles is incredibly satisfying. Never did I feel like one was something I had to brute force with trial-and-error to figure out. It's enjoyable to look at the game's puzzles and figure out what you can do to make your way through their hazards. Some solutions appropriately make you feel like a hacker, as though you’re tricking the game into letting you move on to the next level. It's hugely rewarding when you utilize an enemy to get past an obstacle, such as hiding behind it for cover or using it to deactivate terminals that grant access to new sections of the level.
When it comes to visuals, Deus Ex Go isn't quite as colorful or vibrant as its Go predecessors (Hitman Go, Lara Croft Go), opting instead for a starker, cleaner, more futuristic look. Additionally, it's the first game in the Go series to attempt a narrative. The story is set over the course of a single mission, where Jensen must save a person of some importance. However, things quickly spin out of control, forcing Jensen to solve a lot more puzzles than he initially thought he’d have to. While the story is given little attention and fails to capture your imagination, thankfully, the puzzles are more than enough to keep you moving forward until the credits roll.
In addition to the story, Deus Ex Go offers weekly sets of new puzzles that consist of five levels. Unfortunately, by the time I was done with the story and had moved on to the puzzles of the week, I wanted more than what the standard 54 levels offered. Hitman Go presents multiple objectives in each level, which encourages players to return for an additional challenge. Deus Ex Go only offers a single challenge for each level, and it's the same one every time: complete the puzzle in a certain number of steps. This offers some replayability, but it's not the most exciting reason to give a level another shot.
By the time I was done with the story and had moved on to the puzzles of the week, I wanted more than what the standard 54 levels offered.
Deus Ex Go offers microtransactions, and unfortunately, it asks you to pay for the solutions to puzzles. You should be able to learn how to get through a puzzle by observing what everything in the level does and reacts to, and using one of these paid-for solutions cheats you of the knowledge that makes Deus Ex Go special. Additionally, the microtransactions are priced in a way that encourages you to spend the most money possible. Two solutions cost nearly $3, while $10 will get you 25. With only 54 levels in the story, it would effectively ruin half the game to buy the $10 package. For such an incredible puzzle game, it's disappointing to see it tarnished with the option to pay your way through it.
Despite its few faults, Deus Ex Go remains an increasingly fun, rewarding puzzle-solving experience. It continues the Go series' streak of excellence and leaves me longing to know what developer Square Enix Montreal will do next with the franchise. Whatever it happens to be, if it's done with the same thoughtfulness that makes Deus Ex Go such a compelling puzzle experience, it'll be well worth playing.