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Video Game / Deus ex Machina

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"I am Machine... I have always been"
Deus Ex Machina is a classic (1984) ZX Spectrum video game from Automata. The soundtrack featured British celebrities of the time, Donna Bailey, Ian Dury, Jon Pertwee and Frankie Howerd.

The plot (such as it was) is of a creature born of the last mouse on Earth, and of the life-cycle of that creature.

Not to be confused, of course, with Deus ex Machina, which is totally unrelated. Also not related to DeusExMachina.Video Games (note the extra "s" after "Game" and the reversed order). Nor of course with the later Deus Ex series of video games. All come from the theatrical term deus ex machina, Latin for "god from a machine", a special effect used when a production's plot involved a deity.

In 2015, a sequel, Deus Ex Machina 2, was released. It followed the plot of the first game, but with additions and alterations.

Needs Wiki Magic Love. Visiting its entry on World of Spectrum may help.


This game contains examples of:

  • 20 Minutes into the Future:
    • According to the manual, the original game begins in the distant future of 1994, and the roots for the backstory start much sooner, in 1987 — a mere three years after the game's release.
    • The second game gives explicit dates, and spans to 2048.
  • Acrofatic: Justice Defect in both games is morbidly obese, but can run a marathon.
  • Adipose Rex: Justice Defect becomes one, and a nimble one at that.
  • A.I. Is a Crapshoot: A rare heroic example with The Machine, who kicks the story off when it decides it's had enough of being the tool of an oppressive regime.
  • All In The Manual: The specific details of the game's backstory that couldn't fit in the music.
  • All the Worlds Are a Stage: As the plot is based on the Trope Namer, it's only fitting that one of these show up. The Senile stage in the second game involves running through the other stages in reverse as the Defect's memories are erased.
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  • Alternate History: The sequel shifts the timeline to starting in 1948, and the swastikas that appear in the Infant stage imply that Nazi Germany won World War II in this timeline.
  • Ascend to a Higher Plane of Existence: The final stage in the second game. Defect's wheelchair sprouts angel wings as he flies to the afterlife.
  • Auto-Scrolling Level: The Soldier stage in the first game, and all stages in the second.
  • Barbie Doll Anatomy: None of the 3D models in the second game wear any clothes, and none of them have any detail.
  • The Bard on Board: The story is based on the "seven ages of man" soliloquy from As You Like It.
  • Biomanipulation: One of the Defect’s psychic abilities, which he can use to either heal wounds, as stated in the Lover stage, or destroy brain cells, as stated in the Soldier stage.
  • Blasphemous Boast: Paired with an Ironic Echo in the original.
    The Defect: God knows what happens next... I don't.
    [Tape turns to Side 2]
    Kaptain Korg: God knows what happens next. Don't I?
  • Brainy Baby: In the first game, The Machine grants The Defect "the sum of all human knowledge" from birth, and he's able to communicate using Telepathy.
  • Broken Record: Given as an order throughout the "Soldier" stage in the original: "War crimes are easy."
  • Can't Kill You, Still Need You: Invoked by Schoolchild Defect in the first game. Kaptain Korg made it no secret that he planned to dispose of him, but the Defect kept himself alive by using his powers just enough to arouse Korg's curiosity, convincing him that he could someday be advantageous.
  • Chuck Cunningham Syndrome: Several characters from the first game, such as the Voice of Reason and Defect's machine friends, are removed entirely in the second.
  • Dark Reprise: The Betrayal stage in the second game. Originally just the second verse of the Lover stage in the first, it's been turned into an entirely new track here.
  • Demoted to Extra: Most of the characters from the first game have a considerably reduced role in the second, such as The Machine and Kaptain Korg, both of whom only clearly appear in a single stage each.
  • Downer Ending: As the game's entire premise is following a complete life from start to finish, it ending with The Defect's death is a Foregone Conclusion.
  • Fake Interactivity:
    • As the first game is synced to a cassette tape, no actions in the game have any effect besides Scoring Points.
    • The second game, despite being a modern PC game, keeps this trait.
  • Feeling Their Age: No matter how strong he used to be, The Defect isn't immune to aging, and he isn't taking it well.
    "Don't you ever get weary..."
  • Hoist by His Own Petard:
    • In the first game, Kaptain Korg wanted to see how the Defect could use his powers to destroy. He got exactly what he wanted.
    • According to the first game's manual, this is what the barbed wire in the Justice stage symbolizes; as much as The Defect wants to fix his mistakes, his own restrictions are making it very difficult.
  • Leaning on the Fourth Wall: "Imagine if this were all just an electronic game."
  • Master Computer: The Machine, who is portrayed as a godlike figure.
  • My God, What Have I Done?:
    • The Machine in the first game, after The Defect's regime turns out badly in the Justice stage.
    "You’re more machine than I am. You’re an asshole. I wish I'd never made you."
    • The Defect himself in the same stage, which is about his desperately trying to make things right again.
  • The Narrator: The Storyteller, voiced by Jon Pertwee in the first game and Christopher Lee in the second.
  • No Dead Body Poops: Averted as a major plot point. The Machine is able to rebel in the first place because the last mouse on Earth chose to spend its final moments hiding in a spot where its last dropping would cause a hiccup in the machinery.
  • No Name Given: The Storyteller, The Defect, The Fertiliser, and The Machine are only known as those. The only character who is named is Kaptain Korg.
  • Psychic Block Defense: Most of the first game involves controlling this power of the Defect's.
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech: The entirety of the lyrics in the first game's "Justice" stage is one towards the Defect. The equivalent "Guilty" stage in the second serves the same purpose.
  • Retired Badass: The Defect during the final stages. Once a powerful, all-knowing revolutionary, he's only focusing on keeping himself alive in his old age.
  • Rock Opera: The audio cassette that the game syncs to has a distinct song for each stage, one flowing into the next.
  • Sdrawkcab Speech: Kaptain Korg, after being damaged.
  • Single Tear: At the end of the "Lover" stage, though it’s not entirely clear whose tear it is, and The Defect sheds one in the afterlife, not knowing what it is.
  • Super Soldier: The Defect during the Soldier stage, trained as the Defect Police’s ace-in-the-hole.
  • Telepathy: The Defect's defining ability in the first game. He doesn't seem to have it in the second.
  • Updated Re-release: The thirtieth anniversary edition, which has the advantage of already being synced to the audio due to being on a modern PC.
  • Xtreme Kool Letterz: Defect policeman Kaptain Korg, spelled as such in the manual.