Detroit: Become Human Review
Just last month, Sony and Santa Monica Studios wow’d us with the release of God of War, a reboot of the popular franchise on modern consoles that not only surpassed review expectations, but smashed sales records as well. To think that Sony could release another mega hit the next month was probably a pipe dream for many PlayStation owners, but I’m here to tell you they delivered. Detroit: Become Human is another phenomenal game on this generations best selling console, and for good reason: everyone experiences the game differently!
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Detroit: Become Human wasn’t high on my list of must-play titles after it was shown off last year, but thanks to the demo that dropped a few weeks ago, my interest definitely had spiked a bit. While narrative driven games are not usually my go-to (I prefer action adventure over button presses and dialogue choices), something about the demo of this title intrigued me. When PlayStation Canada sent over a code for review, I wasted no time jumping in.
In Detroit: Become Human, you will play a narrative driven experience from the perspective of three Androids who live within the city of Detroit: Kara, a house maid Android; Connor, a prototype Android who specializes as a detective; and Markus, who like Kara is the caretaker of a human. Throughout the experience, the decisions you make will have overarching affects, not only on the storyline of the character you are playing, but on others as well. Let’s briefly dive into the 3 main characters, without spoilers mind you!
As an aside, all the information provided in this section will be info gleaned from the first chapter that you play as each character. If you want to pass this over, scroll pas the characters section and continue to read!
When the scene drops on Kara, you will find yourself in an android shop. Kara is here not because she is a new model, but because her owner, Todd, required some repairs to her. As you head back to Todd’s home, you see Detroit for what it has become: a desolate community ruled by robots, with unemployment levels higher than those we see today in the city of Detroit. When you arrive in Todd’s home, you meet his daughter Alice, whom you are charged with taking care of, on top of cleaning up everything else.
You will set about your tasks within the home, taking in everything happening around you, including Todd’s behaviour, Alice’s demeanour, and if you look around enough, back story on them both!
Markus is the caretaker for an elderally painter named Carl; after fetching new painting supplies from the city, Markus returns home to Carl’s house and begins prepping Carl for another day. That includes taking him to the bathroom – Carl is confined to a wheelchair – feeding him his pills, and making his breakfast. The storyline of Markus begins rather calmly, although his arch moves faster than others, so be ready for big changes!
Connor is a prototype detective Android who partners up with human detective Hank. Together, they are tasked with finding out why Androids within Detroit are going ‘rogue’ and becoming deviant, that is, doing things they are not programmed to do. While Connor investigates his first murder, you will be introduced to all the different types of interactions within Detroit: Become Human.
Detroit is a city full of unrest. As more and more Android units roll out of CyberLife facilities, humans become more and more irritated. Robots are taking jobs, and pushing unemployed humans onto the streets of Detroit. The game’s entire premise is playing off the emotions between humans and androids.
On top of this, Androids are becoming deviant, which means they are performing tasks and showing emotions they are not programmed to do. Once they become deviant, there is not telling what the might do.
Does it Work
The real argument around narrative based stories with multiple endings and outcomes is that people often wonder if the decisions they make will have an impact. While some games definitely don’t deliver on this promise, Detroit: Become Human does, and I will give one spoiler example:
Within the first hour or so of the game, you will be in a unique situation with Kara, when you realize that Todd is abusing his daughter Alice, and in one moment, could potentially kill her. In this moment, Kara becomes deviant, breaks the rules set out for her by Todd, and rushes upstairs to confront the raging father.
While playing through Detroit: Become Human, I often would converse with media colleagues to talk about how our stories were progressing. In this situation, myself and two others – Jon Scarr and Paul Hunter from the Best Buy Canada Blog – all had different outcomes. Jon spared Todd’s life and ran away with Alice and Paul, in a fit of rage, used a handgun to shoot Todd (as Kara). When they both mentioned how their scenerios played out, I assumed I was in for one or the other. Yet, somehow, the decisions I made didn’t result in either happening, but instead, Alice – the daughter of Todd – shoots Todd through the chest just as Todd is about to destroy Kara.
It is moments like this that make this title shine above other narrative driven titles. The company has learned from past experiences – Beyond Two Souls, Heavy Rain – to create an experience that definitely will be different depending on who is playing and what decisions they make.
It’s All About the Feels
Despite solid game play and for the most part, good mechanics, the real driving force behind Detroit: Become Human is how you feel while you play it. Will you hate Androids for taking the jobs of humans? Or will you hate humans for abusing Androids. Either way, Quantic Dream has found a way to tug at your emotions, which will be all over the place as you play. I had moments of sorrow, moments of anger, and moments of pure joy, all within an hour of playing. That is what this game will do to you.
As someone who generally hates narrative driven experiences, I’d play Detroit: Become Human many more times to see all the different outcomes. While your first play through might only take you 15-20 hours – depending on how much you explore – you can easily sink in 50+ if you go for 100%.
And sink time into this game, you should. The more you explore the world Quantic Dream created, the more you will get out of the experience. When scanning a room for interactive objects, take the time to deal with them all. Some are not necessary to drive the story forward, but will provide valuable context and background on the situation in Detroit, and even at times, the characters you are playing. The magazines scattered around the world are the most interesting, in my opinion. Don’t pass them up: you will have a great appreciation for the plight of humans, and the situation of Androids!
Detroit: Become Human is not a perfect game, as wonky controls can make certain sections a bit annoying. I found control issues most pronounced when trying to manuever tight, small spaces, such as rooms in an apartment, or corridors. That being said, there is little else to complain about when I think back on my 30 hours with the game, and that is fairly impressive. I’m not sure there is a game on the market right now that is telling a better story than Detroit: Become Human. If there is, I definitely want to play it, because this experience has been phenomenal!
[A copy of the game was provided by the Publisher for review!]