Published on May 26th, 2018 | by Edwin Millheim
Detroit Become Human Review
Summary: Detroit Become Human is one of those must have games for the PS4!
Explore the Human Condition.
To think that Detroit Become Human sprang from what was a short tech film called “Kara” which explored so many elements of AI, including the right to exist in some ways was disturbing. You felt in your heart that Kara was alive and to see her start to be disassembled was gut wrenching thanks in no small part by the actors delivery of her lines. She was emotional, she was alive and she was real.
Now here we are with a full game based on this premise with Detroit Become Human with developers Quantic Dream definitely having a bold adventure on their hands. At its core, Detroit Become Human is a superb interactive movie really, based in a future Detroit. where Androids are commonplace and are designed to look just like humans.
The Androids are pretty much a built to be a work force, programmed to take on jobs and day-to-day household chores. The game uses a tried and true story technique of bouncing between characters to tell the story which works well. The player starts out with Connor, a more advanced model than most.
He works for the police department and is tasked to hunt down, arrest or eliminate deviants. Most people have tried out Conner’s introduction in the form of the free demo of the game which was an interesting premise. Conner’s introduction in the game is jumping right into the action in a rather tense and very well written hostage negotiation standoff. Whoever wrote this scene and the interactions got a lot right. Having been a civilian volunteer in the Manatee County Sheriffs Hostage Negotiator Team training for four years, I was impressed on what they did with this aspect of Detroit Become Human. Once again the term ‘real’ comes into play.
Then we have Kara. She is a domestic servant android and unfortunately she is in a broken and abusive home. Unless you have not heard, there was a big hullabaloo over presenting such things as abuse and even child abuse in a game. Well it is here and it is addressed. It does not trivialize it, it is presented stark and open like a raw dark nerve that people seem to be afraid to talk about. Unfortunately this happens in real life, and it should be addressed in all mediums.
In the game, this aspect really does get you thinking. It is presented well with some stereotypical telltale signs such as when we are first introduced to Kara in this game as she is being picked up from a repair shop. When asked what happened to the android, the father says, “she was hit by a car.” and it seems the shop in its repairs had to reboot and wipe the androids memory. How convenient for you Mr. Abuser.
Then we have Markus, he is an Android that is the minder for an aged and disabled artist. The perfect Android until events take place that put him in the middle of the Deviant movement as a leader. It is either peaceful protesting or something more aggressive to get the message out and it falls down to the players choices for all of these characters that also opens up the game for at least another play because there’s plenty of choices.
In fact, it is possible to get Conner killed in the very first encounter, though the players will be shortchanging themselves in the story. The fact is all the choices can have some kind of consequence. All the choices have branching outcomes, so one player may have a different experience than another player depending on the choices they make. Any of the characters can have an end to their existence, so your decisions can weigh heavy on the mind indeed.
Although this game is an ambitious interactive movie mixed with polarizing real world events that is reflected in the story, some may venture to say that Detroit Become Human does not always get its point across very well. Often it is rather blunt and as subtle as a brick through a plate glass window, however the story does get the job done though. This may also be emotional to some players and although the story may be about some fictional future,the Androids are our placeholder for other peoples which makes Detroit Become Human a dark mirror reflecting what was and what is in the world.
At the end of the day, it’s about choices, rights and wrongs… what is life? … and what is being human? Hatred for things that are different, prejudice, abuse, life, death, simple human kindness, and so many intricacies of the human condition is presented throughout this game. Some players who are more cynical may not be emotionally moved in anyway what so ever, however for those that can suspend themselves into the story and follow it down whatever rabbit hole it brings you to, will have a rewarding experience. Needless to say, it’s worth getting lost int he intricacies of this story.
So whether you like a story, love a story, hate the scripting, or love the scripting, whatever side you come out on, and afterplaying the game, one thing is for sure, the actors do their jobs well. You believe in the characters, even the quirky cliché ones like Lt. Hank Anderson, who delivers the lines with such intent and weight you believe in and start to feel for the guy.
Connor is played by Bryan Dechart. The 31-year-old American has appeared in TV shows like Law & Order: Criminal Intent, but he is perhaps best known for his recurring role as Eli Chandler in Jane by Design. Dechart also starred as Dave in one episode of True Blood, and provided various voice work for the game Mafia 3. Kara is played by Valorie Curry. The same actress played the role of Kara in Quantic Dream’s 2012 tech demo and is also known for her roles playing Jane Kuhne in the television series Veronica Mars as well as for playing Charlotte in The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 2. She’s also starred as Kelsey in House of Lies, Talia in 2016 film Blair Witch, and Dot Everest in recent Amazon series The Tick.
Markus is played by Jesse Williams. The 36-year-old actor is best known for playing Dr. Jackson Avery in Grey’s Anatomy. He’s also starred in Law & Order, also starred as Eric Medina in television series Beyond the Break and Holden in 2012 film The Cabin in the Woods, and can be seen in the music video for Demi Lovato’s Tell Me You Love Me.
Finally Lt. Hank Anderson is played by Clancy Brown and while his film and TV credits are extensive, he may best be known for playing such roles as Sgt. Zim in Starship Troopers, Captain Hadley in The Shawshank Redemption, and Blackhand in Warcraft: The Beginning. Interestingly, he’s also provided voice work for over 30 different video games, so he’s no stranger to this medium.
Gameplay comes across as if you are in control; it feels good and natural in many ways. The interaction is always revolving around some item, or a person to speak to in order to advance the narrative. The camera follows your character around and in certain times the player does have some control over the camera as well and you can shift it around for full views of an area. Then there are the times when the camera angles are limited. These are the times it can get a little frustrating because you are not able to view as much as you would like to and sometimes the control is taken away in certain areas. So while the camera angles at times are great, I feel that the camera angles can be a little restrictive during some scenes.
Gameplay wise, one would think that it would feel a bit stunted, and overly repetitive to a point of boredom. But since there are three different characters that are all different from one another, it does feel like there are more gameplay choices to be had. Each of the character has a slightly different style and feel during their sections, even with the basic mechanics being the same throughout the game.
Also Detroit Become Human really tests a player’s role-playing abilities when it comes to jumping from character to character during the story where you might swap from hunter to the hunter which can be a little jarring. It is an interesting attempt at intertwining the characters stories with each other, and the feelings the player may have in a situation. So the fear of capture all of a sudden turning into the thrill of the chase can be exhilarating and Detroit Become Human and these areas are quite solid.
Other times some game moments will hit you with an emotional sledgehammer, whereas other times the game play can be a bit on the boring side but it does relay the atmosphere of the city. These scenes are there to introduce all of the quarks of the city and its people. From people spewing hate speeches, to the inequality of how the Androids are treated and helps draw you in to explore the area.
Controls in the game should be straight forward, but can be a bit wonky at times. For instance, it took me a few tries to walk around a table and get into the right position to be able to pick up an item of interest. After a few minutes of gameplay, you tend to get the hang of it. However, when things get tense and time is factor, it can get a bit frustrating when character death can be an outcome if you are not able to do what you need to do.
After finishing a chapter in Detroit Become Human there is a flowchart that comes up which shows all the choices that the player made, but also the branches of other choices and possible outcomes that the player did not go for. Not all the chapters are overly complex but some are a big of a spaghetti bowl. Choices all have some sort of ripple effect and can even come back later in the game to smack you in the face. It is a cool concept visually that can encourage further replays just to see how things would play out. After all, who has not wondered in real life if I made this choice instead what would have happened?
Graphics are incredible, the art and presentation for Detroit Become Human is a visual treat. The characters skin is so realistic and they even have the eyes reacting realistically which is very impressive. Reflections and moisture can be seen in the eye and even on teeth. The city design is spectacularly delivered and you feel like it is a living breathing place that you can visit for real. Sounds and music are also top notch as well.
Detroit Become Human is one of the great games of 2018. If you are still on the fence about it, then check out the free Demo with the first chapter. This way you can tell if it is your thing or not. After you have finished playing this game and maybe another shot, you’ll be missing this world dearly. At this time there has been no word on if there will be any DLC planned for Detroit Become Human which is a shame. I know I for one would love to see Conner in action a bit more and it would include more barricaded suspects, people in crisis missions and other hostage situations. That would be a cool DLC. Nonetheless, Detroit Become Human ticks all the right boxes when it comes to one of the great games of 2018.
Have fun, play games
Primary Format – Games – Playstation 4
Game Genre – Action & Adventure
Rating – MA15+
Consumer Advice – Strong themes, violence, drug use and coarse language, online interactivity
Game Developer – Quantic Dream
Game Publisher – Sony Interactive Entertainment