Although we guide the fate of androids here, we’re gripped by the characters right to the end and have much more influence on the course and outcome of the plot than in any previous game of Quantic Dream.
In Detroit in 2038, the reality of people’s lives has changed little at first glance. Children enjoy themselves on the playground. A street musician hopes for generous donations and the shopping malls are bustling with activity. But something is different in the world of Detroit: Become Human. Only some of the passers-by are human. All others are androids of the manufacturer Cyberlife.
Optically, they hardly differ from humans, do their job as street sweepers, construction workers or sex robots. Stoically and without any deviation from the protocol. However, technological progress also has its downsides. More and more people are losing their jobs and being replaced by androids. Recently there has also been an increase in cases where androids deviate from the protocol, develop their consciousness and even attack their owners.
More Human Than Some People
In Detroit: Become Human you alternately slip into the roles of three of these androids. Kara works as an ordinary domestic helper for drug addict Todd and his daughter Alice. When the ill-humored father’s hand slips again, the artificial being decides to protect the girl and flee with her. Markus, in turn, cares for the aging artist Carl Manfred. He repeatedly tells him that he can be a full member of society. The third in the group is Connor, a particularly advanced sndroid, which for its manufacturer Cyberlife hunts down the so-called deviants, i.e., those robots that develop a life of their own and even emotions.
Detroit covers various aspects of humanity – or instead of becoming human – within the framework of this threefold division. If Kara has a motherlike protective instinct, Connor is about friendship, but also betrayal. Markus, on the other hand, focuses on the community. With him, you will become the leader of the android rebellion in the struggle for freedom and equality. You have to keep the different interests of your opponents in balance and decide whether the resistance is peaceful or violent.
David Cage walks again and again on a fine line between credibility and only partly comprehensible emotionality of the androids. For example, specific dialogue options from Connor, in which he can react aggressively or even cynically early in the game, are not always distinct. After all, he is a rationally thinking android to whom feelings are alien. Markus’ rise to a kind of messiah of the android resistance movement is also going too fast.
The whole plot takes place in less than a week. So it doesn’t fit that he will change from newcomer to leader of the resistance within a few days. However, such inconsistencies are bearable. The different ways in which the human police investigator Hank Anderson can react, create a deep emotional bond with the characters. It would probably hardly be possible without compromises.
Many Paths Lead to the Goal
The story itself, in the course of which the three protagonists sooner or later meet, is consistently exciting and full of twists and turns. While Heavy Rain and Beyond: Two Souls mainly confront you in crucial moments with decisions full of consequences, in Detroit: Become Human you have much more severe influence. It applies both to the course of individual scenes and to the story itself. A thrilling chase along a busy road you can fully experience if you make an absolute choice.
Many scenes in Detroit only differ in nuances. But the opening scene alone, where Connor has to stop one of the deviants from killing a little girl, can end in six ways. So you don’t get the wrong idea: Not every alternative course of a game scene is as good as satisfactory. Similar to Heavy Rain, you also have to make wrong decisions to achieve an entirely different path consciously. Most of the time, the alternatives arise when you decide under pressure whether your Hank rushes to help or continues to pursue a suspect.
The options available to you in the game often depend on the knowledge of the characters. In Detroit: Become Human you explore the surroundings much more often than in Cage’s previous works for clues that you use profitably in the multiple-choice dialogues. The search for information is particularly exciting during Connor’s crime scene inspections but also applies to the two other characters. In the environments, you will also find magazines that tell you more about the background of the game world. For example, you’ll learn that powerful androids can even replace professional players in sports.
Especially when searching for vital information, Detroit is comparatively transparent and will always tell you if you have just unlocked an alternative path. If you are willing to steal on the run with Kara and Alice to have accommodation for the night, the girl will understandably resent your decision. Moreover, it is difficult to predict how much a particular behavior will affect the relationship between Mark and his allies, for example. But to break them, you have to make an effort. We regretted many decisions with direct effects so much that we immediately restarted chapters.
While Beyond: Two Souls often relies on action, Detroit: Become Human achieves its drama much more through other means. There are always pursuit hunts or fist fights based on quick time events. But in less fast-paced scenes the game is at least as gripping. In one chapter we want to escape from a house with Kara and Alice. We have to hide from the owner and his assistant. Our hearts were beating up to our necks as we stayed in the closet for seconds and somehow tried to get through to the stairs unnoticed. Also in another scene in which we have to get rid of a policeman at the front door, our pulse rate increased massively.
The drama of the scenes comes into its own not least because of the cinematic direction. It shows the events from changing perspectives and skilfully accompanies them with music. The technical implementation indicates only minor flaws when the frame rate drops slightly or when NPCs shine like a piece of plastic. Apart from that, however, Detroit: Become Human achieves an outstanding level of graphic design.
It is especially true for the characters, whose movements up to the ultra-realistic image of the facial expressions come from real actors. But also the surroundings come along with photorealistic textures, especially later on. In some sequences, you have to look very carefully to see that the material is rendered. However, players don’t have to make atmospheric cutbacks in languages other than English. A game cycle will keep you busy for a good 10 to 12 hours. Thanks to the many decision options and different courses of action, the game is worth at least a second. If not even a third or fourth round.
With Detroit: Become Human Quantic Dream, and David Cage remain fundamentally true to the game concept known as Heavy Rain and Beyond: Two Souls. Unlike the last two adventures of the French studio, Detroit offers a much more complex decision-making system. The individual game scenes and the course of the plot are comprehensively influenced. Although the authentic and exciting implementation of the future scenario is not so much the core story that makes Detroit: Become Human arousing experience.
Above all, it is the individual characters whose fates drive our curiosity. Because Kara, Markus, and Connor are machines, we build up a close emotional relationship with them. The fact that Detroit works so well is not least due to its first-class technical, content-wise and visually credible implementation of the vision of the future. Beyond: Two Souls on the PS3 still often reaches the limits of what is possible. Detroit now draws from the full and almost never gives itself naked. Narratively, Heavy Rain may remain David Cage’s best work so far, despite the greatly expanded options for action. Detroit: Become Human, however, secures the new top position among Cage’s games as a complete package.
- Countless optional tasks and secrets in the world
- Extensive character and crafting system
- Creative Puzzles
- Great story
- Brachial combat system
- Epic soundtrack
- Very good speakers
- Fantastic graphics
- Boss fights not quite as strong as in part 3
- Overview in fights often not optimal