Originally released May 2018 by Quantic Dream, Detroit: Become Human is set in the not-too-distant future. A world where androids exist to make human lives easier. From housekeeping to war-fighting, androids are as common – if not more so – than humans.
Despite, their fundamental co-existence, however, one thing is abundantly clear: androids are not equal to humans. The premise? Things take a turn when cases pop up of androids becoming “deviant”. Essentially, androids are beginning to become capable of free thought, similar to that of humans, and likewise begin wanting lives akin to their human counterparts.
To preface this, I do not have the most optimized setup. I currently have a base model PS4 (non-Pro) and a lower-end 4k television. This game was beautiful. The use of color and lighting varied depending on the situation and environment and were used excellently to capture the feeling of the situation my protagonist was in.
There were a few times, however, I noticed that things didn’t quite seem up to snuff. A good example of this was when I was playing as Kara. Earlier events force her to wander the streets in the rain looking for shelter. A good majority of the cues were there: you could hear the rain falling, everything looked wet (including Kara), but I did not see any rain falling. However, if I would turn down a different street, I could clearly see it was raining.
There were also times when a character would be standing outside in the rain. At times, you could clearly see drops of rain hitting their face, but the next second their face would appear totally dry.
That being said, in no way did this ruin the experience for me – it would simply take me out of that particular moment.
GameplayThis, by far, is the worst-ranked category. I wasn’t too thrilled with the Quick-Time Events (QTE) being so heavily relied on. I understand the necessity, given the type of game this is, but some of the combinations I had to complete were . . . wonky, to put it nicely.
To elaborate, there were some situations wherein time was of the essence and you had to be discreet to not draw attention. Due to the awkward combinations of button presses/hold to complete the action, I ended up failing a few extremely important situations. Again, I understand the purpose was for a more realistic and immersive situation. However, in my opinion, the over-the-top push for that immersion actually took me out of it more times than not.
Another point of frustration I encountered on many occasions throughout my playthrough was when I would be walking. It would be like my character hit a wall, even that was the path I was supposed to be taking. I would have to turn around take a couple of steps then turn back around and I was able to proceed in the original direction. This was little more than an annoyance while I was exploring and looking for clues. But, this became a huge deal to the point that I was literally screaming obscenities when the situation called for a quick escape.
My last complaint was when I would be traveling with a companion. There were so many times where my companion or even random NPCs would wander into my path, like through a door, blocking me. Thankfully, I was never blocked during life or death situations.
Aside from these complaints, the gameplay was relatively smooth. Most actions were successful, provided I pushed the right button or buttons in response to prompts. Initially, I did not like that there was no option to run at-will. But ultimately, I found it to be more of a benefit as I actually paid more attention to my surroundings.
StoryGiven Detroit: Become Human is supposed to be a narrative-driven story with multiple choices, outcomes, and endings. It is expected to have high-caliber storytelling. In my personal opinion, Detroit: Become Human delivers. Throughout the game, you play as multiple characters – each with unique challenges they must overcome. Eventually, and depending on the choices you make and relationships you create or destroy, all the stories merge into an epic conclusion.
Typically, in these types of games, I make the most chaotic of choices, simply for the laughs. But this story was different. I found myself actually caring about the characters I was playing as and wanting to do my absolute best to ensure everyone succeeded in their goals.
Without treading on spoiler territory, I can say there was one instance where my choices led to the deaths of a couple of characters. I found myself actually upset, backtracking a couple of chapters just to try and make things right.
In my opinion, the story and moral dilemmas presented blew other titles out of the water. Moreover, I must reiterate that I am not the type of person that can easily be invested in the well-being of fictional characters. Yet the writers of this game managed to provoke feelings within me that are not easily brought out (especially from a work of fiction).
Final ThoughtsDetroit: Become Human is an absolutely fantastic game. While I was aware of it when it initially released, I had little interest in picking it up. Admittedly, the only reason I played it was because I had gotten it free from my PlayStation Plus subscription a few months ago. Maybe I was totally oblivious to the marketing of this game, but I do not remember seeing many advertisements or coverage of this game. That, to me, is a shame.
Without being too provocative, this game addresses something many are afraid to talk about: racism. While it is not the conventional form of racism that people are accustomed to, there is no other way to describe it. The humans view Androids as less than them, with some even going so far as to refer to them as slaves.
What this story does is actually put you, the player, into the shoes of someone enduring this treatment. Moreover, it is done in such a way that you want to fight for the androids’ rights. You want them to succeed. You want them to be happy. At least, that is how I feel about it. And coming from someone who has been accused multiple times of not being capable of feelings, that is saying a lot.
This game was reviewed on the PS4.