Whether it is tiresome housework or the emergency repair of the washing machine – many of us have undoubtedly wished for a helping hand in everyday life that is always on the spot quickly. In Detroit: Become Human this dream will come true in 2038. Human-like androids are taking more and more work off our hands in both our private and business lives. It is practical, but it also leads to discontent among many. Many citizens have lost their jobs as a result.
A thin line between human and machines
We could already play the first two hours of the dark action adventure and alternately slipped into the roles of three androids, whose stories we play in short sequences of about 15 to 20 minutes each. As special investigator Connor we end a hostage-taking, then as maid Kara bring the trashed house up to scratch for our owner and experiment next with caretaker Markus on behalf of an artist with brush and color palette.
Right from the start, we feel like the humanoid robots, whose expression and facial expressions maintain a right balance between man and machine. However, our environment diabolizes us as non-humans and continually throws us hateful comments such as “Get away, you piece of plastic” and “Why didn’t you send a real person? ” to the artificial head.
But we don’t let ourselves be deterred by the numerous rabid citizens, and at least at the beginning of the game, we follow the tasks that our owner has assigned us. With R2 we activate a kind of radar that illuminates essential objects in our surroundings. The control and camera are quite hooky, which fits the robot theme of the game, but often takes us out of the game as we examine the environment.
As androids, we naturally also have real-time access to modern technology – elegantly integrated through displays in the game world. For example, thanks to a virtual database, Conner can determine the appropriate weapon type and the owner of a found pistol within seconds at the scene of the crime. If we analyze enough clues, the AI can even reconstruct the course of events abstractly and rewind forward and backward moment by moment.
At the same time, Detroit doesn’t want to drift too much in the direction of wacky sci-fi thrillers but instead focuses on a realistic scenario. The primary technical approaches predicted by the game already exist. No one is surprised today when a drone flies above him and more and more AI systems like Siri and Alexa are entering our living rooms.
The branched story with far-reaching decisions
With Heavy Rain and Beyond: Two Souls, the developers of Quantic Dream have already proven that storytelling and ambitious choices are significant to them. Detroit also wants to focus on the branched story, in which androids deviate from their programming, become increasingly human and try to break out of their previous role in society. However, we only saw the first signs of this during our audition. In the early two hours, Detroit introduces us to the dystopian world and introduces all characters.
At the end of each sequence, we also see in a detailed graphic what decisions we have made and compare them with other players worldwide. Did we stand in the way of the violent father to protect the daughter? Maybe we even escaped with the girl? Or have we not moved as ordered?
What does it mean to be human? The question raised by Detroit is not new. Films like Ex Machina and Her also take up the same theme. The artificially created androids Markus, Kara, and Connor, are much more appealing to me in the new Quantic Dream adventure than all the human NPCs in the game. Which at least at the beginning are depicted negatively and skeptically.
The alternating sequences with the different characters have a good rhythm – even if it was annoying at the beginning that I had to continue playing with another character after a cliffhanger. But the frustration was soon forgotten because the action adventure game already aroused my interest in the fates of all three androids in the first hour of play. Although the camera and controls should have been a bit more modern, Detroit has made me curious for more with the realistic future scenario and chic game mechanics like organic quests faded into the game world.
If you’re a fan of Lara Croft, you should check our Shadow of the Tomb Raider preview here.