Artificial intelligence becoming sentient, rapidly improving technology, the power of media, and the meaning of life. These are just some of the overarching themes that echo throughout the entirety of Detroit: Become Human.
And while Quantic Dream and David Cage’s previous releases (Beyond: Two Souls and Heavy Rain) were divisive, to say the least, Detroit: Become Human far surpasses its predecessors splendidly in every way.
Set in the techno-futuristic city of Detroit, Detroit: Become Human gives you a readily believable world in which androids and humans exist in a slave and master relationship. With self-driving cars, surveillance drones, and screens everywhere, having androids that look human-like and performing tasks is just a natural progression.
It is a world where you have androids in all facets of life, be it manual labour, as caretakers, civil servants, and even as sexual companions, it is a reality that may come to pass in our own future.
And it is the potential similarity which drives much of the narrative in Detroit: Become Human, especially as humans, what will you do when your androids start displaying signs of sentience and become deviant?
Revolving around the trio of androids, Connor, Kara, and Markus, Quantic Dream weaves a grand tale that leads players down variations of the android’s stories, before culminating in extended sequences where their paths eventually cross.
While the story can drag at certain points (10-12 hours, 40+ if you want to see everything), this is a title that touts choices which matter, and it does not disappoint. Even if you cannot see the immediate ramifications of the many decisions you make, rest assured that things will change further into the story.
Many a time I have been taken aback by twists and turns I did not see coming, often accompanied by a helpful flashback to where the story diverged. It is a testament to the developers and their mastery that none of the many plot devices appeared too outlandish or overreaching.
This is a truly a story of your own making, with players getting to experience scenes that may otherwise be missed, depending on their chosen paths.
This review will not go into the intricacies of each of the android’s story, but each is filled with their own signature flair. Connor wrestles with his duty of completing his mission as a deviant hunter while balancing his relationship with his human partner.
Kara is a caretaker android that has to deal with an abusive father and helpless daughter, and Markus starts from humble beginnings as an artist’s assistant to becoming the face of the revolution.
As you progress through the narrative, do you fulfil your missions at all costs, protect the little girl with your life, and bring humans to heel with your revolution? The story, the action, the choices, is all yours.
If you ever feel the need to see how the story can change, the Flowchart option will show you the different ways any scene can turn out, and the possibilities are mind-boggling. Each branch awarding players points, which can then be used to unlock art, models, and behind-the-scenes videos about the development of the game, neat!
There are simple, straightforward experiences, and there are overlapping experiences that draw from your many decisions to create a humongous tree of consequences. Detroit: Become Human is a game with immense replay value that brings significance with its many alternate flash-points.
It is entirely up to the player to tackle the requirements of each scene, through contextual actions like swiping the touchpad, moving the analogue sticks, and using the face buttons. Quick-time events form the basis of the different sequences that you may encounter, thankfully, they are not egregiously used to the point of frustration.
Dialogue choices are back, and can often open up new paths and choices if you manage to say the right things. There is also a really cool investigation interface, which allows the androids to map out scenarios and reconstruct past events, and is honestly criminally underused throughout.
If there is one thing to criticise Detroit: Become Human about, the controls could do with a little more fine-tuning. Movement is still heavy and clunky, which is understandable considering the pace of the game, but pathing remains an issue. Being stopped by an invisible wall between objects happens too many times.
The decision to map certain actions and the camera to the right analogue stick can cause issues with finding the right perspective as well, so be prepared for some growing pains.
Detroit: Become Human does a decent job in exploring the ideas it is purporting. The rise of technology and the many pitfalls that await us, the media’s role in twisting perspectives, and the potential of intelligent life developing in A.I and more are decently covered, although it is not as in-depth as I would have liked it to be.
In the run-up to the game’s release, there was a particular focus on the more controversial aspects of the story such as domestic abuse, but overall, the ideas were explored with respect and done well, and should not deter anyone from trying out the game.
Not only do your three characters get meaningful, thought-provoking arcs, the world itself grows and changes in ways that will keep you on the edge of your seat.
Even better, the supporting cast of characters is great supplements to the main trio. While their stories are not as fully fleshed out, the nuggets of information that you may discover will often give you an insight into their world.
Detective Hank Anderson and Luther are two of my favourites and are just two of many that hints at more interesting tales to tell. And suffice to say, it would be a welcome sight to see DLC exploring their stories prior to or after the events of Detroit: Become Human.
It is not surprising to feel emotionally invested in the happenings of the city, as well as the characters you play and meet. Detroit: Become Human competently draws you in and establishes a connection between player and game quite unlike anything I have felt in recent memory, and all the emotions felt by the androids slowly become your own.
When combined with the stunning visuals and awesome soundtrack, it becomes an all-sensory experience. The facial capture is phenomenal and considering the plethora of characters you will meet in Detroit: Become Human, it is an amazing achievement.
Both humans and androids look extremely life-like and display emotions in ways that will be familiar to us, and such a technical marvel is definitely more the exception than the norm.
It certainly helps sell the emotional stakes at play during the game, and a wonderful use of facial capture technology. The voice-acting in Detroit: Become Human is also up there with some the best, giving the cast each of their own unique personality, coupled with accurate syncing between movement and sound, and let the characters really shine through on their own.
On a side note, there is a particular android you will meet when you turn on the game for the first time, and as you play more, she begins to change. It is an utterly crazy feature, and every player should experience for themselves. There is even a close-to-perfect rendition of a St. Bernard in the game, what’s not to like?
Sound design is top notch as well, from the voices to the environment, everything falls right into place. The ever-changing background music also complements the scenes wonderfully, conveying a sense of serenity in times of peace and calmness, while keeping your adrenaline pumping during action sequences.
It all melds together to create a perfect storm of jaw-dropping visuals, marvellous sound design, and a hell of a narrative experience.
Detroit: Become Human had many things going against it leading up to release, but the time spent in its sublimely realised world was an emotional roller-coaster sprinkled with terrific characters, memorable performances, and a believable narrative that hooks you at every turn.
With both Heavy Rain and Beyond: Two Souls in the belt, it is safe to say that Quantic Dream’s Detroit: Become Human takes everything good about its predecessors and adds in even more AAA magic for an unforgettable and memorable time, a pinnacle of choice-based storytelling like no other.
GEEK REVIEW SCORE
Detroit: Become Human continues PlayStation 4’s run of tremendous AAA exclusives with an engaging story and captivating characters that keeps you wanting more.