As I’m wrapping up my initial playthrough of Detroit: Become Human, the latest game from French studio Quantic Dream, I think to myself how this game, is the culmination of the previous two entries being fully realized. Between 2009’s Heavy Rain and 2013’s Beyond: Two Souls, David Cage has crafted the game he has truly desired with Detroit: Become Human, and I’m happily ready to dive back into the sci-fi narrative to see what other choices I can deviate to this time. The choices you make do in fact, have consequences and speaking with industry colleagues about their experience shows just how different every story might be.
While we’ve seen the classic trope of technology eventually overcoming us and becoming realized people, Cage’s take on the subject matter is wonderful, and as artificial intelligence quickly advances every day, it really is only a matter of time before we see some semblance of free will. In Detroit: Become Human, the world, for the most part, has welcomed Android’s into daily life, working with our children, building our skyscrapers, keeping our streets safe, even filling in as intimidate partners. Over the course of the narrative, we play as three vastly different characters, the android Connor; a new advanced prototype model made to solve crimes and work with the police, Kara; who is a designed to complete household work and take care of children, and Markus; a caretaker who lives with his owner, Carl.
The three actors chosen to star are wonderful as Bryan Dechart plays the no-nonsense Connor to perfectly, who is fresh off the assembly line and pairs well with his human partner and drunk, Hank Anderson. Valorie Curry reprises her role and drives home her performance as Kara, and provides one of my favourite capture performances in this game. Jesse Williams plays Markus well, but really, it’s up to you to see what path these three go down, they can be anyone as their personalities change based on your choices.
My review is based on my first playthrough, where I ensured the survival of all three androids. In case you aren’t aware, your main characters can die during the game and I had an instance where I had one of them die, causing me to restart my game to allow for the error to be corrected. Your choices do in fact, matter and it is wise to be sure of what you do.
With hundreds of branching paths to unlock, choices made can lead to difficult decisions and those decisions draw from your morality. Without diving into spoilers, there were moments where I had to pause the game and question whether the choices in front of me were viable for one character or a group of characters. Even when playing a video game, these decisions are not easy to make, and I would spend more time deciding whether my choice was right, wrong, or downright atrocious. David Cage mentioned that your morality would be used to push his story forward, an dboy was he right and while the narrative in Detroit can sometimes become comical due to the nature of the story, it still works but sometimes things move into melodrama.
David Cage is known for his games as art policy and continuing with Detroit, you can see his vision inch as close to reality as ever, often as Detroit emulates a movie more so than a video game with an emphasis on people talking and the performances that captured these conversations. I feel this is why the controls haven’t evolved since Heavy Rain, taking a backseat to the performances of the actors. In many Quantic Dream games, actions are not mapped to a button but a motion – to turn the handle on a door you push the analog stick down and half turn to the right to simulate the knob turning. To open a fridge, you swipe the touchpad to the left, but there is a small margin of error as in some instances my inputs were not fully detected which caused me to redo them to confirm the action on the screen.
As it’s been stripped down to provide a minimal look on screen, things can become frustrating and often unpredictable. During action sequences, on-screen commands move far too fast and would make me miss the input window and either cost me a perfect streak or seeing my character get hurt and while I don’t mind the lightning fast inputs, some notice and more visible commands would certainly help.
Lastly, moving around as your character is boring, and tedious and not fun at all. There are moments where this is elevated and easily more intuitive but your time spent playing will leave you wanting more as characters awkwardly move about and often not where you want to take them, the awkwardness has plagued Quantic Dream titles for years, why fix it now?
Playing Detroit, each character has a sequence that lasts no more than 20 minutes, effectively giving you small bits of the story before transitioning to the next Android. As it were, I don’t believe that there was any filler content, as every scene provided more context to push the story forward. Connor’s first scene was the hostage negotiation scene you may have tried when the demo for this title released a few weeks ago, Markus’s introduction was picking up paint supplies for Carl, his owner, and friend, and Kara was left to tidy up the house, prepare dinner and so on. Things effectively ramp up the more you play and the last third of Detroit is the best you’ll see of from the game.
Character models are insanely detailed and prove that the PlayStation 4 isn’t ready to retire just yet. Just last month God of War blew me away with its presentation and this month, Detroit kicks the visuals up a notch, with fantastic animation to go along with it. There is a wonderful fluidity to the way characters move that didn’t match up with previous games from the studio. With Detroit, everything moves more naturally and realistically.
Look, Detroit: Become Human is a complicated game and it’s got the technical prowess to go with it. With a stellar cast to bring each character to life and a ton of options to write your own story, you’re in for a real treat that brings all Quantic Dream’s ideas to fruition. That said, with clunky controls you might miss a beat, but don’t let that distract you from experiencing this adventure. With some of the best facial work and motion capture performances I’ve seen so far, you’re in for a fusion of theatre and gaming that only a man like David Cage can create and the number of variables included allow for some truly remarkable ways to experience this title.
[A copy of the game was provided by the publisher for review purposes]