The lights are on
One of the many things that Eidos Montreal is hoping to convey with Adam Jensen is that he’s a cool guy. Sure, the Deus Ex hero is powerful, smart, and loaded up with an arsenal big enough to make Inspector Gadget envious, but he doesn’t just roll out of bed and head to work. He might not care to admit it, but you can tell he spends a bit of time in front of the mirror every day. His wardrobe is not only functional, but also stylish. The art team designed Jensen’s trademark coat for Human Revolution, but for Mankind Divided they turned to people who make clothes professionally. Here’s the story of their collaboration with Acronym as well as a look at the new coat’s hidden functionality.
Let me start off by being absolutely clear – before we visited Eidos Montreal’s offices to take a look at the game, I never would have guessed that I’d be writing about fashion, let alone a coat. I come from the “good enough” school of style. For me, dressing up typically means that I’m wearing clean pants and my hoodie is zipped all the way up. Note: I am not endorsing this lifestyle.
Still, when I watch movies or play games that are set in the future, my eye is drawn to the often ridiculous clothing that people are wearing – yes, even more ridiculous than a grown man dressing like a 14-year-old. You can spot it in the puffy gray Nehru jackets that heads of state wear. Or the bondage gear that a graffiti artist presumably squeezes into every morning. And my favorite, the garb that newscasters and reporters wear, which typically looks like a ‘90s-era prom collided with a fake-flower store. I get why creators do it; it’s an easy visual shorthand for, “This ain’t the world you’re used to!” That doesn’t erase the empathy I feel for the fictional characters who have to clown it up.
Adam Jensen's jacket from Deus Ex: Human Revolution
Deus Ex: Human Revolution definitely delivered on the news-anchor front, but Jenson’s clothes – his coat, in particular – managed to be futuristic without being completely ridiculous. A big part of that came from the art team not to start completely fresh. It’s evocative of a classic trenchcoat, but it has some forward-thinking elements in it as well. Most importantly, it’s something that feels fairly timeless, to the point where people could wear it today and not look like a goon. At one point, Square Enix even sold reproductions of the coat on its online store.
“My dad wears Adam Jensen's jacket [from Human Revolution] every day in the winter time,” says executive art director Jonathan Jacques-Belletete. His father found the coat while helping his son move, and he loved it. “He didn't know it was Adam Jensen's. [He said] 'Can I have it?' And my dad is a businessman. He says, 'Oh, this looks good!'”
How does the Deus Ex team approach something like a coat? Do they take an existing garment and add a few shiny patches or some rivets? Like Dubeau said in my previous feature, one of the keys is to essentially dial your imagination back a bit.
“I think a good thing for making products and fashion design is not to invent anything from scratch,” says Jacques-Belletete. “Even better than that is consulting with real designers, which we didn't do in Human Revolution. One of the things that I used to say a lot – almost at the end of the [Human Revolution] project – is, ‘Man if we had done that, it would have made our lives so much easier.’ We're game designers, and the funny thing about game designers is we have to create entire worlds. So we have to create fashion design, we have to do urbanism, we have to do architecture – all these things – but we're none of those things. We tend to invent them. It's good to go to the real people.”
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