The year is 2038. In a time where the talk of World War Three is rife, androids now live among humans. They clean their homes, look after their children, serve them as intimate partners, are used for risky space missions and just about anything you can think of. There’s only one slight problem, some of the androids are starting to think for themselves. They are turning into deviants, they are becoming human.
We’re the ‘people’ who do your laundry and cook your food and serve your dinner. So don’t f**k with us.
Detroit: Become Human has travelled a long way to get to the point where it is at now. Several years ago a tech demo was released that ran in real-time on the PS3, it was named ‘Kara’. Since then fans have been hoping to see a conclusion to that demo and Detroit: Become Human is exactly what we now have here. Kara can be bought at a retail store, just as you would buy any piece of merchandise these days. Androids are displayed as mere tech items. She takes care of housework, looks after children and comes with the gentle motherly instincts you would attach to a caretaker. Markus, our second android, is a prototype that has been provided as a gift to a well-known artist who has lost the use of his legs. He aids him with basic daily tasks, such as collecting items in the city, and for companionship. Our last android, Connor, is also a prototype. Cyberlife, the company that designs and produces all the androids, created him with one goal in mind – to assist human detectives in solving cases.
By now fans of Quantic Dream games should have picked up that this game follows in the footsteps of Heavy Rain more closely than Beyond: Two Souls. Throughout your journey, you’ll be jumping between these three characters as the plot unfolds with each story. Humans will be pushing the boundaries and it’s going to be up to you to how you react to it all. Why? The city is running out of jobs for humans. As we’ve come accustomed to, the cinematic presentation is of the highest calibre. Thanks to the clever use of camera angles it feels as if events are unfolding in a movie-like fashion and things can get quite tense. A press of the R1 button and the camera swings behind your character. Hold in the R2 trigger and it allows your android to freeze time for a moment and scan the vicinity. Several points of interest will appear in front of you, which you can then investigate. Detroit: Become Human has a unique controller input method compared to most other games.
Making split-second decisions will keep you on your toes throughout.
Players activate most objectives using the right analogue stick. Want to pick up that object? Push up on the right analogue stick. Need to open a door to see what might be behind it? Use a circular motion and pull the right analogue stick towards yourself to pull the door open. It has a natural feel to it, but they’ve also made good use of other features on the Dualshock 4. Action sequences will require you to deal with the ‘love it or hate it’ quick time event button press sequences and it sometimes requires you to yank your controller (motion controls) in a specific direction to keep the QTE combo going. There are moments where you’ll experience finger-twisting prompts that require you to press and hold in several buttons at one time. It’s merely the Quantic Dream style. There is one other feature that surprised me. You’ll find digital magazines scattered throughout Detroit city that tells you more about life in the industrial rebirth of this city and just why humans are so fed up with androids. Where the cool touch comes into play is with the touchpad, as you use it to scroll between pages. Probably the most natural use I’ve seen of it to date.
As you tackle each chapter you’ll unlock your own unique route, depending on decisions you made or if you succeeded an action sequence or failed a scene that you did not analyse and reconstruct correctly. Making split-second decisions will keep you on your toes throughout. It’s this diversity, combined with the flowchart that brings so much replay value to the game.
You’ll come back for more
This experience can last between five and 10 hours, depending on your decisions you take, but there is no denying that Detroit: Become Human must be played at least twice to see one of several outcomes. After completing each chapter you’re presented with a flowchart that shows you how your decisions had an impact on the story. On my second playthrough I found that I missed entire chapters that I never played on my first attempt and in return, I never bumped into some chapters from my first playthrough. The moral decisions also play a huge part in how other characters in the game perceive you, which in turn also affects the flowchart. Make bad choices and one of the three Androids can meet their death early on in the game, affecting the final outcome. A cool additional feature is that you can compare your flowchart with that of friends and other players around the world, to get an idea what option most people went for.
The lighting is phenomenal and the textures are majesty to witness.
From a graphical point of view Detroit: Become Human is once again pushing the boundaries when it comes to realism. The lighting is phenomenal and the textures are majesty to witness. From the modern skyscrapers in the city through to snowy surrounding areas – everything is perfectly detailed. Though the androids and humans look alike, there are tiny bits of animation that shows off their more robotic features, when compared to humans. Whether it’s a slight change in eye movement or whether it’s the final motion of them coming to a standstill, you have to appreciate the subtle differences. It’s these small details that make the experience all the more believable. That’s not to say you’re going to experience something you’ve never experienced before.
The same, but not the same
Detroit: Become Human isn’t revolutionising the genre. If you’re after more Heavy Rain with a different theme then that is what you’re going to get. Unfortunately controlling your character still feels a little clunky when compared to other games in this day and age. It works for this type of game, but it’s getting to a point where not being able to go past point X due to an invisible wall is getting a little long in the tooth. I love linear games, but do give me a little bit more freedom when having complete control over my character. Thankfully there are way more pros than cons, as expressed in the extras menu. You earn points for each chapter you complete and in turn, you can use it to buy in-game character models to drool over, soundtrack songs, videos, digital magazines to read (though this is available for merely finding it in the game) and several galleries. Lastly, the actors who used their likenesses and voice brought it to life should be applauded. You get to see their hard work in some of the unlockable extras content.
What Detroit: Become Human does question is humanity. We don’t share nicely with others. The theme of exclusion feels a little close to home, due to the history of our country, but it’s a reminder just how horrible humans can be and that we are indeed a selfish species. This game is going to ask you some tough questions, it’s going to provide you with unexpected fourth-wall breaking moments and it’s going to remind you that there isn’t any other game in the market quite like this.