System Rift is both a blast from the past and a nod to the future of Deus Ex, but that’s about it.
Developers: Eidos Montreal
Publisher: Square Enix
Platform: PlayStation 4 (Version reviewed), Xbox One, PC
Release Date: September 27th, 2016
System Rift opens with something pretty unexpected. Adam Jensen is, *gasp*, enjoying himself as he watches a football game in his apartment. His brief leisure time is interrupted, however, by the appearance of Frank Pritchard; a major character from Deus Ex: Human Revolution, who has a big favor to ask of everyone’s favorite vent-crawler. This initial scene, funnily enough, is ironically representative of System Rift as a whole; a fun excursion that’s ultimately cut short far too soon.
This second chapter in the “Jensen’s Stories” DLC section of Mankind Divided plays to the strengths of the Deus Ex gameplay formula, by centering the story around the infiltration of one of the most secure and expansive intelligence banks in the world. It’s more than just a simple heist job regarding the story, however, as System Rift attempts to tie disparate elements of the Deus Ex universe together into a more cohesive whole.
We get some much needed narrative context for the game’s widely criticized Breach mode, for example, and the ending suggests that Pritchard may be useful for Jensen’s quest to expose the Illuminati in future. It’s always admirable when a piece of story DLC meaningfully contributes to the wider fiction of the game itself, but System Rift races towards its conclusion so quickly that characters or certain story threads are barely given room to develop.
The same can be said for the gameplay itself. Players are given a small new suburb of Prague to explore briefly, before heading into the data bank known as the Palisade Blade. As the focal point for the main mission, Eidos Montreal has really pulled out the stops in crafting the aesthetic and mechanical design of this building; a literal blade structure that dips underground before emerging from the Vitava river like some sort of architectural sea snake. As promised, the building houses some of the most advanced security systems in the game so far, and making it all the way through will prove challenging for even the most proficient Deus Ex players.
System Rift is considered as an isolated escapade, and so doesn’t let you carry over your upgrades from the main game, instead awarding you with nine praxis points to spend at the beginning. I have mixed feelings about Eidos Montreal’s decision here. On the one hand, it strips players of any familiar crutches and forces them to consider their actions more carefully with regards to stealth and combat.
But, then again, I felt slightly let down by the fact that my Jensen and all his progress had no bearing on this DLC, which arrives over one month since the original game released. I would have instead preferred at least the option to carry over my progress from the main game or begin afresh, similar to how CD Projekt Red handled their expansions in The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt.
The whole adventure lasts around 2 to 3 hours, which comes across as a little stingy considering the $12 asking price for the digital content. There are just two side-quests outside of the main objective, and the discoveries made from exploring the environments ultimately feel hollow, seeing as anything you pick up won’t be available once the fleeting story comes to a close. The player is given the opportunity to make a few interesting choices towards the end of the mission, but whether these will have any meaningful impact towards future Deus Ex games seems doubtful.
A copy of this game was provided to App Trigger for the purpose of this review. All scores are ranked out of 10, with .5 increments. Click here to learn more about our Review Policy.