Detroit: Become Human – Review

Detroit: Become Human is the latest title from Quantic Dream. It is set in the near future in Detroit where androids have permeated society and not everybody is happy about that. The story in Detroit: Become Human centers around three main characters with a bunch of secondary characters helping you out along the way. Each of these characters is put into different circumstances, however, one of the common themes they all face is the risk of being shut down, the android equivalent to death. We first meet Kara in a shop that both sells and repairs androids. She had been badly damaged and was taken there for repairs. Next is Markus who has the responsibility of caring for an elderly artist. The third character is Connor who is a cop. It can be challenging to be an android cop though as not everyone is happy to see “androids investigating androids” as one agent said. Going through each of their stories it was interesting to see the different challenges each one faced and how each of their stories would come together.

Detroit begins with Connor. There is a hostage situation going on and it is your job to try and make sure everyone gets out alive. After making it through that scene you are introduced to Kara. Your owner is picking you up from the repair shop and taking you home. Along the way you get to see some of Detroit and some of the different locales in the game. It has to be said that Detroit: Become Human is a beautiful game. I really enjoyed this mini-tour at the beginning and then being able to explore somewhat as I was playing the game. Once you get home and get control of Kara you begin to notice that things aren’t right. It isn’t long before you discover that Todd (your owner) is a drug addict and trying to raise a little girl named Alice. Unfortunately, this doesn’t appear to be a safe place for a small child like Alice so you have a number of different options you can pick from. You can choose to obey Todd without question and do what he says and nothing more. You can choose to go against your programming and disobey Todd to try and intervene in certain events that are taking place. If you mess up the QTEs then one event will take place. If you successfully complete the QTEs then another event will take place. Detroit: Become Human is all about choice and the decisions that you make will have some big consequences and it won’t always be apparent about whether those consequences are good or bad. You might think you are doing the right thing but then everything goes haywire. On the other hand, you might pick the option where it seems like you are a bit of an asshole but everything ends up working out. There are many, many permutations of the story where my playthrough might end up being quite a bit different than yours.

As I mentioned above, one of the central themes in Detroit: Become Human is choice. Another one of those themes though is what it means to actually be alive, to be human. I really don’t want to spoil the story for anyone but there are some interesting questions posed throughout the game. There is one scene in particular in a tower during a broadcast that raises some questions about the role of androids in that society. There are conflicting opinions about that with some being very anti-android and others who like what androids bring to the table. Segregation is dealt with here as well when you see how humans are allowed to sit in the front and middle of a bus but the androids have a special entrance they use and they have to stay in the back, separated from the humans. That isn’t the only example but it is one that stood out to me.

If you have played any of the other Quantic Dream games (Indigo Prophecy/Fahrenheit, Heavy Rain, Beyond Two Souls) then you pretty much know what to expect here in terms of how the game controls. The controls are still very tank-esque, which is a disappointment. I was hoping they would be more refined this time around. Don’t get me wrong, this is Quantic Dream’s best effort to date. They didn’t go far enough though, in my opinion, with how the game controls. One can hope that whatever their next game is will have better controls but that might be like wishing that Telltale would use a decent engine for their games…it might not happen. With that said though I was able to quickly adapt to the controls because I have played the aforementioned titles and I was used to it. For those who might not have played a Quantic Dream title before it might be a bit of a shock though. Also, if you don’t like QTEs in your games, then you probably won’t like this title. QTEs are one of the main ways that you accomplish tasks in Detroit: Become Human. For me personally, I was fine with it and it was exactly what I anticipated. If you are on the fence then you might want to download the demo that is currently available on the PlayStation Network so you can find out for yourself what you think about the game.

I mentioned earlier in this review the different number of paths that you can take going through the story. One new feature that Quantic Dream has added this time around is the flowchart. This was an amazing idea by the development team and it is something I hope to see in future titles. The flowchart will show you where the story branches in each mission. After you get through a scenario the game will tell you how much you completed and then you can see the choices you made and where the story went as a result of your choices. For the very first mission, for example, I completed 48% of the scenario. As Connor I talked to Captain Allen which resulted in me being able to search the area for clues. You are on a bit of a timer here (that you aren’t told about) and I ended up taking too long so a member of Swat got injured. After that I confronted the criminal outside and during negotiations I decided to try going the friendly route. As I was doing that I decided to be honest, which allowed the criminal to trust me a bit more. Due to that, I dismissed a helicopter that was hovering around as a sign of good faith. That lead to me making another decision and another decision and then, finally, the final decision of the scenario. There are five different ways that scenario can ultimately play out. The way the scenario played out for me was me being able to accomplish my primary objective but failing to accomplish something else. My success in completing my primary objective but failing in my secondary objective is referenced later on in the game and it is anyone’s guess what kind of impact it will have overall. Going all the way back towards the beginning of the scenario if I had not taken so long searching the area then a member of Swat probably wouldn’t have got injured but I might have missed something in my investigation. I knew the criminal’s name because I found it while searching the area. Being thorough in your actions in this game will unlock different paths the story can go. For example, opening up a drawer to put medicine away and noticing there is a gun there might open up another possibility for how a scenario can play out. Now that you know the gun is there you might be able to use it, whereas if you never opened that drawer that option would never be available to you. They also show percentages which give you an interesting piece of information. For example, 24% of the “world” took too much time with that initial investigation like I did. If you go to just the people on your friends list than 30% of my friends took too much time there, while 93% of my friends had a Swat member get injured in their playthrough. I really enjoyed looking at the flowcharts for each different scenario and seeing where I went and planning on where I should go the next time I play it.

There are different difficulty options in this game where you can decide whether you want a bit more of a cinematic experience or whether you want a tougher challenge. There are no difficulty based trophies though so you can pick whichever one you want without missing out on anything. There is also an “Extras” section that Quantic Dream put a lot into. As you are progressing through the game you are continually earning points. These points are a sort of currency that you use to unlock extras for you to enjoy. There are different pieces of art that you can unlock, such as the Detroit skyline in the game. In fact, that might actually become the new background for my PlayStation 4. Then you have videos that you can unlock. These range from the Kara short movie that was released in 2013 to the debut trailer of Detroit: Become Human back in 2015 to the Making of Detroit and more. In addition to that, you can unlock a bunch of different songs from the soundtrack and enjoy listening to those without having to worry about going through the game. Next is a gallery where you can unlock different characters and be able to get a really close look at them by reading their backstory, being able to use the camera to go around the character in a complete circle so you can see them from every angle and more. Finally, there are magazines that you can look at. As you go through the game you will notice magazines laying around the environment. If you pick up and “read” these magazines the game will save that and put them into the magazine section of the extra menus. These magazines tend to talk about current issues and what is going on during different parts of the game. Additionally, finding and reading these magazines in the game helps give you another percentage point or two on your flowchart if you are trying to get 100% in every scenario.

Detroit: Become Human is a fantastic game and, in my opinion, Quantic Dream’s best effort to date. The city of Detroit looks fantastic here as you are in control of three different stories. Characters can die in this game so you are going to have to be careful with the choices you select. The game could control better but as someone who has played the other Quantic Dream games a bit, I was able to quickly adapt. I really enjoyed how your choices have a consequence to them and I am going to have a lot of fun going through the different variables and unlocking the different paths I haven’t been able to do yet. If you are an adventure game fan then you must check out Detroit: Become Human. If you are on the fence be sure to download the demo that is currently available on the PlayStation Store. Once you do that you will have to answer a question…how far are you willing to go?

Score: 8.5/10
Originally posted on Gaming Target

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