‘Deus Ex: The Fall’ Is A Great Game On The Wrong Platform

One of the problems console developers have had with the boom in tablet gaming is that they all look at tablets, with the wealth of possibilities a touchscreen offers for innovative control schemes, and decide “We should try and make this a controller!” It never works. And Deus Ex: The Fall is a superb example of that, alas.

The game itself is great in almost every respect. It’s a bit like the PS2 predecessor Deus Ex: Human Revolution never had: It’s got sidequests, multiple weapons, plenty of augments, a beefy-for-mobile running time of six to seven hours, and branching story options that give it replay value. It’s not as rich and complex as the game it’s based on, but it’s richer and more complex than most mobile games, or console games for that matter, bother with. It is also a fairly linear game compared to its console counterpart, but it’s a game you’ll play twice for seven bucks. Any way you spin that, it’s a bargain.

The problem is the controls. There are good ideas here: Single-tap to target an enemy, double-tap to snap to cover is a clever system. And there are “dual-sticks” if you want them. The main problem is that, well, the controls aren’t responsive enough.

I can’t emphasize this enough: This is not Square Enix’s fault, it’s Apple’s. There’s just no way, right now, to make a touchscreen that is as responsive and as easy to use as a controller. They make a noble, noble effort with some clever (and some cheesy) workarounds, but the net result is that you’ll find the stealth playthrough a bit too easy and the combat will make you want to chuck your iPad across the room. This may change when a gamepad becomes available, but this game simply does not work, in places, with a touchscreen.

I’m not saying you shouldn’t buy it: It’s a feather in Square Enix’s cap and a great argument that rich experiences can be brought to mobile platforms. However, waiting for game pad support, or configuring this with a gamepad, might be a better idea.