The team at Quantic Dream are known for their immersive, multi-branched, story based, cinematic gameplay, and come May 25th, Detroit: Become Human—their first truly developed game in this console era—will be available on PS4. Thanks to Sony and Quantic Dream, I had a chance to play the first two hours of this PS4 exclusive and explore the morally marred lives of androids, Kara, Connor, and Markus.
The game follows three androids in a world where they are almost indistinguishable from humans aside, from an LED in their heads, specific clothing, and blue blood. The Cyberlife-built inhabitants of 2038 Detroit are designed to cook, clean, check groceries, run errands, aid the elderly and any other functions the owner may need. But some people feel the androids are doing more harm than good. Unemployment skyrockets, and rouge androids called deviants begin to wound and even murder their owners.
Right off the bat it was clear that the in-engine graphics are astounding. The realistic rendering of faces and expressions set against the all too plausible 2038 Detroit backdrop at the height of the android driven industrial renaissance, is mesmerizing. The movement during scenes is so seamless that when control of the character switched to my hands, I felt like my awkward control inputs didn’t do the android’s lifelike personas justice. There are also some great subtle attentions to detail like the android’s temple LED changing with emotions, the news articles scattered around the world that actually help you make informed decisions, and the strange recurring theme of giraffes. The only thing that hurts the immersion are some of the camera angles. The game gives you the option to switch between a few angles in any given room, but the angles themselves, while cinematic, don’t always lend themselves to certain gameplay functions like say, walking in a straight line.
A field sobriety test is not the gameplay one comes to Detroit: Become Human for however. The branching story based on player decisions is one of the most advanced and compelling we’ve yet seen. This goes beyond choosing the renegade or paragon option; this is about making seemingly innocuous choices, each one having consequences that develop the story. The fact that a character’s fate may be decided, not by choosing right or wrong, but by right or left is both unsettling and invigorating. And it’s not just a binary system. From speaking to others who have played the demo and looking at the constellation of your own choices at the end of each vignette, each scene could have half a dozen different endings. Some vary greatly while others seem to have subtle differences (which I’m sure will come back to haunt you).
The choices a player makes change the world, but they don’t seem to change the character. During the demo, Connor, the android investigator tasked with hunting down his own kind when they’ve gone rouge, is presented with a pivotal choice. Connor quickly and assuredly makes that choice. It was not up to the player to decide how Connor reacted in that very poignant moment. The player’s decisions seem to be reserved for the more mundane options in life, but those are the choices that shape this world. Based on my limited time with the three main characters Connor, Kara, and Markus, it will certainly be interesting to see how the world has affected them when their paths finally cross.
If you’ve ever felt the urge throw A.I. Artificial Intelligence, Black Mirror, Blade Runner, and Heavy Rain in a blender, then we may have just found the game for you. Detroit: Become Human is an engaging immersive world of the not too distant future where every player will have their own unique experience. If you’re looking for a game that challenges your reaction time, this won’t be it, but if you want a game that tells a strong story then pick up a controller May 25th. Experience the story, and tell a bit of it yourself.
Quantic Dream’s critical juggernaut, Heavy Rain is now available on PS4 as is Beyond: Two Souls.