REVIEW: Detroit: Become Human
After being first unveiled as a tech demo as far back as 2013, Quantic Dreams latest Playstation exclusive is about to launch around the globe on PS4 tomorrow. With a pedigree in strong narrative-driven titles, Director David Cage’s latest creation has a lot to live up. Does Detroit: Become Human achieve the company’s lofty ambitions? Read on to find out.
Detroit: Become Human is set in Detroit during the year 2038 after the city has been revitalized by the invention and introduction of Androids into everyday life. But when Androids start behaving as if they are alive, events begin to spin out of control. Throughout your time in the game, you will jump between the storylines of the 3 main protagonists, Kara, Conor and Marcus. With each of their intricately constructed narratives, they quickly learn what it means to truly “become human” and how that discovery is a fight for survival and a fight for self control.
Not to reveal any spoilers at this point, I’ll just say that Detroit: Become Human’s storyline was one of the most engaging narratives I’ve played in quite some time. I must admit, when I started to play this game, I was skeptical at how Quantic Dream were going to handle such a complex story whilst still making it an enjoyable experience but I’m happy to report that they’ve managed to pulled it off. It’s a game full of moments where you find yourself asking some difficult, even philosophical questions as to how a storyline or event should unfold and it was even quite moving at times.
The story itself is broken into a number of different chapters, each with their own multiple endings and outcomes, depending on how you respond to the various situations depicted. Once completed, for better or worse, you’ll be shown an overview ‘flow chart’ highlighting the path you took due to the decisions you made during your playthrough. The cool thing about these flowcharts though, and something which highlights the sheer level of variability Quantic Dream has included in this game, are the many other ‘unrevealed’ paths you could have gone down if you’d chosen differently during your playthrough. It’s this feature in particular that will most certainly have you playing through the game more than once to see the many other ways the story could have unfolded.
Quantic Dream has done a fantastic job of encapsulating an incredibly complex story and narrative theme into a interactive experience that becomes more and more engrossing as you play. I found myself becoming invested in each of the character’s storylines and, after being shown the ‘flow chart’ of how I did at the end of each chapter, I was even more intrigued to see how each of the chapters could have played out different.
As you progress through Detroit: Become Human, you’ll be jumping between the 3 main characters stories. This 3 lead structure is a fantastic mechanism to allow you to experience 3 very different viewpoints of the same overarching theme of ‘what it means to be human.’ Jumping between characters from chapter to chapter reminded me of GTA V and its 3 lead characters but the topics being addressed and the reasoning behind why Quantic Dream utilised this gameplay mechanism couldn’t be more different.
In terms of controls, throughout the game, you’re given multiple choice responses to questions and statements made by the games various support characters and there’s also a fair share of quick time events for you to compete with as you try and press buttons as quickly as you can to keep the action flowing. There’s also a small bit of exploration to be carried out at various points in the game with Conor’s story in particular allowing you to search for clues at different crime scenes.
Admittedly, the type of gameplay on offer in Detroit: Become Human isn’t for everyone as it’s more in-line with an interactive drama that it is a full blown video game. This, to me, isn’t a bad thing as I feel, this title is a fantastic representation of the future of video games thanks to its incredibly intricate narrative and the way it showcases how your decisions have real consequences for a large part of the story.
I really did feel like I was playing my own version of the story thanks to the vast array of variables just as dialogue options and path directions I’m allowed to choose from, all of which allowed me to form my own narrative.
One other area that we think could have been improved is the camera controls as, for certain sections of the game, we were unable to fully control its movement and it felt quite restrictive.
Quantic Dream has always been a studio that pushed the Playstation platform to its limits and Detroit: Become Human is no different. This is a visual stunning game and has some of the best character models we’ve ever seen in an interactive title.
The city of Detroit and its surrounding suburbs have an incredibly lived in feeling and the attention to detail to achieve this is astonishing. Detroit: Become Human is one of the most filmic games we’ve ever played and you truly feel like you’re playing an intense Hollywood blockbuster given how good the voice acting, camera work, lighting, environments and character models all are.
Quantic Dream titles are always quite divisive ones. They’re as far from your classic FPS or RPG as you could get but still have many gameplay mechanics such as quick time events that gamers are familiar with. Detroit: Become Human can be seen as the culmination of all of Quantic Dreams’s learnings from their previous titles when it comes to narrative structure, freedom of choice and character development.
With all of these learnings and an extremely relevant and current narrative theme, given the evolution of AI, Quantic Dream has crafted a fantastically engrossing game.
TheEffect.Net was supplied a review code of Detroit: Become Human free of charge from Sony Interactive Entertainment Europe.