The prequel Deus Ex series from Eidos Montréal, which includes 2011’s Human Revolution and 2016’s Mankind Divided, is an interesting beast. Deus Ex: HR received critical acclaim and sold well, while the second entry failed to reach the same heights. There’s no shortage of theories about what went wrong with Mankind Divided. However, the one thing that undoubtedly went right was the return of Elias Toufexis’ Adam Jensen. Shockingly enough, this nearly wasn’t the case. Eidos initially planned to develop a sequel to Human Revolution without Jensen at the forefront.
Toufexis teased as much during an interview with VG247, though specifics weren’t divulged. When speaking of Jensen’s surprising rise to game character stardom, thanks to the “I never asked for this” phrase that’s left an indelible mark, Toufexis addressed his involvement in the sequel. After years passed following Human Revolution’s launch, the actor said he wasn’t sure if he’d ever be given the opportunity to return. According to him, his call to return felt surprising. Apparently, Jensen’s inclusion in the sequel was not originally on the cards.
Toufexis told VG247,
…Then they called me for the sequel. And it was a great thing to hear because initially–and I don’t know if anybody knows this, I think it’s okay to say this now–initially they were going to make the sequel without Jensen. They were just going to make another Deus Ex game. And from what I remember when I was told, the marketing team said, ‘No, you can’t do that. Jensen has just bumped into this,’ like I said, ‘this discussion of top video game characters ever. You can’t just not make a game without him, when you have him ready to go.’ And they agreed, and they continued the story of Human Revolution. And we worked on that for two years, two and a half years.
Given the ending of Human Revolution, a game without Jensen could have worked. However, it may not have had the same impact. After all, there were numerous loose ends concerning the character’s backstory. Some of these questions, in addition to several new conundrums, still linger even after Mankind Divided.
Toufexis’ return also meant taking production to a new level at Eidos Montréal. The actor provided both the voice and mocap performance for Jensen, and received a full outline of the overarching narrative before filming. In addition, Toufexis fully adopted Jensen as his own, helping writers determine how best the character would respond or behave in certain situations. As a result, Jensen feels more alive, more real in the sequel entry.
The actor explained,
Not only was I more comfortable, but I had this, ‘power’ is a stronger word, but people were deferring to me–‘Would Jensen say this?’ It was the same overall writer, Mary, who’s amazing, but she had all of these other writers who were writing different missions and different parts of the story, and they would all ask me. ‘Is this good for Jensen? Does Jensen do this?’ So I had all of this leeway, and I don’t know if you noticed, but my Jensen in Mankind Divided is much more laidback and human and realistic than he is in Human Revolution.
Fingers crossed there’s a chance to explore the character even further in a third Deus Ex installment from Eidos.