The year is 2038 and Detroit is a different place. Androids are now a part of everyday life and everything seems wonderful at the outset. However dig a little deeper and the world is full of hate towards androids, people are struggling and it’s here your story as an android begins. Which side are you on? Humanity or Android? Your decisions ultimately affect the outcome, so choose carefully.
Detroit: Become Human is an action adventure game directed by David Cage, developed by Quantic Dream and published by Sony. Quantic Dream are well known for other games such as Heavy Rain and Beyond Two Souls. The year is 2038 and the future is always a genre that excites me and intrigues me greatly. In this future, there are no flying cars or hover boards, but there are indeed androids. Androids are artificial life forms akin to robots that exist to serve humanity in a variety of ways. Whether it’s a personal servant that helps cook and clean and pick up the kids to a security guard, adult entertainer or criminal investigator, androids have just about everything covered.
2038 is a different time and certainly is an era that faces a host of its own issues. The world has embraced android technology and life, however there are also those who hate androids as they’ve lost their jobs to androids and are living in the streets trying to survive, it’s a tough new world. As you begin Detroit: Become Human you assume the role of Connor. Connor is an advanced police model that specialises in hunting down other androids that have gone rogue, or in short have not followed their protocols. In short, a select few androids have begun to show signs of self-learning and human emotions which simply cannot be. Imagine having your android servant answer back to you, or even worse. Connor begins by negotiating just that kind of disaster, a scene where a family android has taken a little girl hostage and is on the brink of killing both the girl and himself.
In the opening scene as Connor, your job is to diffuse the situation. You can choose to just walk straight in and open fire should you wish, or give the order for swat to take control. Either option drives a particular outcome. Perhaps you want to know more? Perhaps you decide to investigate the various clues in the crime scene to determine what may have actually happened? By pressing the R2 button Connor can scan the environment for clues. From here, Connor can actually reconstruct the events of the crime scene. The more that you investigate your surroundings and explore the area, the more you learn which in turn can help you with your negotiations and can ultimately help you diffuse the situation. Without spoiling the game, Detroit: Become Human is filled with choice and dialogue options where you can select varying replies and or actions to situations that drive substantially different outcomes. Each character you interact with shows emotion levels denoted with red and blue arrows to show whether they like or dislike your choices, some can be neutral also. Each decision drives another decision and things can quickly turn on you should you say or do the wrong thing.
Detroit: Become Human isn’t just about Connor, in fact Detroit: Become Human follows the stories of three different characters. The first is Connor who we’ve met, the second is Kara and the third is Markus. Detroit: Become Human switches between each of the three stories more so like chapters in a book, allowing you to essentially follow three different stories woven together in the one world. It’s a great idea and constantly keeps you on the edge of your seat as you move through the game in what almost feels like a movie. Kara is a housekeeping android who exists to keep things in order at home. Her story is also very interesting as she is essentially dealing with family issues, low income neighbourhood as well as domestic child abuse. Next there is Markus who is a caretaker android who is looking after an elderly man in his wealthy home. What I love about Detroit: Become Human is how you experience life from each of the three main androids perspectives who are all leading vastly different lives, it’s fantastic and intriguing.
As you play through Detroit: Become Human I cannot stress enough the weight of the decisions you make. There are a host of multiple choices and paths that you can take both in the dialogue and your actions. There actually is no right or wrong path so to speak, each path you choose may or may not be the path best travelled. At the end of each chapter you are presented with a summary screen that shows a very large flowchart of all the decisions and breaking points for that particular chapter. An example may be to ‘go upstairs and clean’ or ‘stay downstairs and tidy up’. Each path, albeit a simple choice can offer completely different choices and outcomes. In fact you have the option to replay various chapters and select different options. However when I attempted to do this during my first play though, the lovely android at the main menu screen advised me against doing so until my first play through was complete. Clearly your decisions impact the game so you will want to push forward and leave scene replays till after you have finished the game.
Throughout the game there are newspaper articles that you can collect that give you an idea and some further backstory as to what is going on in the new world. I found these quite interesting to read. Of note, what I really enjoyed was using the credits you earn for completing each level to buy extras such as video clips, photo galleries and music tracks and of course characters. Some of the videos here I had not seen which provided extra context and back story for certain events in the game which was a great addition. Also of note, the artwork screens were truly amazing and worth exploring and admiring, after all what else is the currency in game for? Of all these options are of course available on the main screen and are narrated by an android as well, which I must admit looked freakishly real and felt like my own personal android as I returned each day to her lovely voice and bizarre observations and questions.
I must also make note of the control scheme here with Detroit: Become Human. Aside from the general movements with the left and right thumb sticks, you will make use of the touchpad to both read magazines and perform some other actions, which works really well. The majority of the actions that include opening a door for example are utilised with the right stick involving say a quarter turn or a half to three quarter turn. It works well and those who have played previous titles such as Heavy Rain will find the controls not only improved, but familiar.
It’s hard to say too much more without giving away the game itself, but I will say that I have found Detroit: Become Human to be an experience that drew me into its world almost instantly and has kept me there consistently till I completed the game. I always wanted to know what happened next and it kept me playing till the very end. What is extremely satisfying though is the sheer replayability of this title. You won’t just replay Detroit: Become Human for a few pesky collectables, oh no. You will replay Detroit: Become Human many times over as you try different choices and paths for each character as there are many possibilities and outcomes to explore. The amount of value here is incredible.
Graphics & Sound
Detroit: Become Human not only feels great to play but looks incredibly beautiful as well. The world of Detroit in 2038 is well constructed and believable. From the beautiful gardens and city skylines to the run down suburbs, it all looks real and believable. The character design and emotions is where Detroit: Become Human truly shines. Each character is well crafted with incredible levels of detail. I could literally just sit and stare at the game menu screen for lengths of time, it was truly amazing. There are times when exploring new areas you will find yourself just stopping to admire the beauty of the futuristic Detroit City, not just the buildings, but the people, the environment and more. I sat in the park and listened to a random civilian who was busking, taking note of the songs he played and listening to them from start to finish. It’s these small details that make Detroit: Become Human so believable and you can’t help but appreciate every fine detail that the developers Quantic Dream have presented to us.
Detroit: Become Human pulled me in to its futuristic world and took me on a journey that was incredibly real and filled with me with so much intrigue. It forced me to really stop and consider what each word I would say and choice that I made, would have on the characters and the outcome of the story. You become incredibly invested in each of the characters and you drive the story and the outcome. I haven’t felt this empowered in a long time with a game, or one at least where I felt that I contributed to the outcome before. Detroit: Become Human is a truly amazing experience that I wholeheartedly recommend to you. The decisions may be hard to make in Detroit: Become Human, but picking this game up is one of the easiest decisions of your life.
Thank you to Sony Australia for providing a copy of Detroit: Become Human for review purposes.