Monday, 26 November 2012

Some Musings on Endings - Part 1

Framed, conveniently enough, by Deus Ex.

So, after finishing Fallout 3 I decided to continue on with Deus Ex: Human Revolution. I found the game decently fun, but I'd been reading reviews and critique online that said the ending, or rather endings, fell short. Well, I beat the game late last week, and upon seeing the endings for myself I can't say that I fault them for that statement. I wasn't disappointed by the endings, but then again I went in not expecting much.

The reason that I brought up Fallout 3 as well, is because the original ending before Broken Steel came along was also considered a reviled ending. I have mixed feelings about that one personally, but I'll get to it in due time as well.

Oh, and although it kind of is obvious, I'm going to be talking about these endings, so, you know, spoilers and all that jazz.

What struck me with three out of the four endings to DE:HR is that once the decision to throw in with a certain side, whether that be pro-augmentation, anti-augmentation, or, unh, even more anti-augmentation, there isn't really anywhere that the story goes after that. The whole ending to that point plays up that this is going to be a decision with world shaping consequences. Aside from the voice over that Adam gives sharing a little bit of his thoughts though, we don't see any of the ramifications of his actions.

I guess that the fact that this is a prequel to the original Deus Ex means that they couldn't really do anything radical with any of the endings, but it felt like a let down that the more widespread impact of the decision wasn't elaborated upon. In a way that's why my favourite ending is arguably the darkest one, where Adam chooses to destroy Panchaea, killing everyone on it including himself. This decision means that, as another character puts it, "No one will be able to spin the story."

The fact that no one is around, and that people then have to make up their own minds, makes sense. At least it does to me. It made sense to me that Adam, as a character, would make that choice because throughout the game he struck me as a firm believer in personal freedom. It is true that depending on how violent you are throughout the game Adam's final speeches in the endings can change to be either hopeful, neutral, or somewhat embittered, but I did feel that regardless of what happened that he probably wouldn't want any of the three people to really be able to spin things one way or the other.

Adam Jensen does not fail as a character, but in being a character that we play and make the choices for, I feel that three of the four endings fail him. Perhaps that is the point of the final choice, but if that is the case then it makes the choice ultimately meaningless as well, and I don't believe that is what the developers intended. Throughout the game Adam did not see eye to eye with Sarif (pro-augmentation), he was attacked by Taggart (anti-augmentation), and thinks that Darrow's solution (staunchly anti-augmentation and even anti-progress) was preposterous.

I'm not saying that Adam should have been a blank slate, far from it. In the few days of in game time that pass, it's easy to get a picture of what this man is like. The fact that his world has pretty much come crashing down around him provides a somewhat skewed view, but an honest one as well. Since Adam is his own character and you only control so many of his choices though, I believe that's where the dissonance comes into play. It's something that we'll see even more of tomorrow, when I look at the original ending to Fallout 3.

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