The latest game from video game auteur David Cage and developer Quantic Dream, Detroit: Become Human is out, and we are impressed. He was the man behind the cinematic adventure games such as Heavy Rain and Beyond: Two Souls for the PlayStation 3. Both titles were praised for their high-end graphics and cinematic feel, but were panned for its disjointed stories and forced acting.
Is Detroit: Become Human proof that David Cage has perfected his art of combining immersive gaming with storytelling? We answer this with a resounding “yes”; here are five reasons why.
#1 Captivating story
Detroit: Become Human is about three androids who are trying to, well, become human. Set in the contemporary far future of 2038 where technology has made ludicrous advancements in making artificial life that looks like humans, Players get to shape the story and decide the fate of the three androids and how androids are perceived in that world.
You have android caretaker Markus who ends up leading an android revolution, housemaid Kara who ends up becoming a surrogate mother to a child named Alice, and interrogator bot Connor who represents the latest android line of the company CyberLife. The cool part about controlling these characters is how you can shape their destinies: you can make Markus’ robot revolution a peaceful one or a war-inducing one. You can make Kara be a terrible mother who steals and hold people at gunpoint to make Alice’s life better.
Naturally, the story between the three of them intertwine in the game’s final bits, but each of them has their own depth in their plotlines and coming-to-terms with the prejudice surrounding their species. True, the game borrows a lot of material from other sci-fi works, but it all plays out earnestly and is executed very well.
#2 Mesmerising graphics
Not only does the game exuberate a cool futuristic and semi-realistic feel, the 3 main protagonists move and feel life-like. The majority of the game’s emotional scenes are well put-together and can make you wonder just for a fraction of a second whether the game is a live-action film or not. That is how beautiful this game is.
Quantic Dream spared no expense in making Detroit: Become Human a feast for the eyes. Combined with three different-yet-similar musical themes for Connor, Kara, and Markus with different leit motifs, and you have a soundtrack that carries the gravitas and weight of the game’s story and its protagonists.
#3 Helpful flowcharts
Detroit: Become Human encourages replayability after a single playthrough, if only to see how the final outcome based on the many decisions you make. Whether you choose to have Connor berate his human detective partner Hank or buddy up with him, or whether you want to save an android in danger or leave him/her to die, it’s all up to you.
The flowchart aspect also shows up in-game. In certain situations, you can perform a precognition where you can map out the best course of action. For example, Markus has to parkour his way from one end to another, and you have to figure out a path by scrubbing the precognition timeline with the L2/R2 buttons to pick the best outcome.
Connor can also predict and figure out how a murder in a crime scene played out by scrubbing said timeline. You can also open up a Mind Temple with the R2 button to highlight key objects and interactables which may change the course of the story or open up new story flowchart paths.
These cool little elements, together with the “pause the world to see what’s interactable” button help accentuate the futuristic feel of the world through an android’s lens. It also helps give you clues on where and how to find objects and whatnot to progress the story further to where you want it to go.
#4 Brilliant voice acting
The three androids are voiced and acted out very well thanks to the commendable direction of the script and its director. Markus is determined yet has a tender side, while Kara is motherly to a fault who can do whatever it takes to protect Alice, including stealing and pulling out a gun at people. Connor is torn between his duty as an interrogator and a free android; the actor who voiced him hit all the right notes in balancing his character.
The game also features veteran actors like Lance Henriksen, who plays a human being nurtured by an android, and Clancy Brown, a brash detective with a sordid past. If you know your sci-fi films, you will know who these big names are. These combinations of old and new professional actors help give life to a game featuring supposedly soulless constructs. You will believe a housemaid android can make you cry or feel a touch of warmth inside.
#5 Immersive as hell
With great visuals, music, and a solid story, it all boils down to how the game feels and plays out. Players can move their characters to their destinations while also being able to explore and interact with their environment. Certain items and objects can open up new plot points in the aforementioned flowchart. When presented with an action sequence, you have to press the button prompts as quickly as you can if you want to come out alive. Or don’t if you want to lead your character to a possibly tragic end.
It is the final quintessential form of a Choose Your Adventure book, only in high-definition graphics, voice-acting, and top-tier production values. While the game may not be every hardcore gamer’s cup of tea since its challenge level is based on your patience for discovering secret story paths, there is still a lot of entertainment to be had.
This is especially if you have non-gaming friends who need convincing on why gaming is immersive right now. Just show them the first few sections of the game and you will convince them, guaranteed.
Detroit: Become Human is an unconventional gaming experience, but it is a welcome breath of fresh air if you want to focus more on thought-provoking stories and endearing cast members. With its plethora of endings and diverging paths, this 15-hour or more package is a technical marvel.
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