Quantic Dream is back at it again with Detroit: Become Human, and like the rest of their catalogue, Detroit can be summed up in one word: ambitious.
For those of who you don’t know, Detroit: Become Human is a choice-based adventure game set in Detroit during the year 2038. Androids have become commonplace to the point where they’re mass-produced and sold as everyday appliances.
The game follows three protagonists: Connor, Kara, and Markus. Connor is a clean-cut straightforward android who is tasked with hunting down deviants (androids who have broken free from their programming), Kara serves as a housekeeper in a dysfunctional household, and Markus is a caretaker to an ailing artist who treats him like a son. I found them all to be very unique and compelling characters, which helped me feel invested in their individual stories (which isn’t to say that they’re perfect, I’ll touch up on that later).
From the moment you boot it up, Detroit: Become Human is remarkably immersive. Visuals are undoubtedly sharp, especially if you’re playing on the Pro which enables 4k resolution. The game’s stellar motion capture brings characters to life, and the top-notch voice acting certainly helps too with talents such as Jesse Williams, Lance Henriksen, and Clancy Brown just to name a few. Most androids have a robotic-like tone to their voice, while humans sound like, well, humans. Detroit even goes as far as to have a unique score for all 3 protagonists, each with their own composer. Markus’s score in particular is beautiful, as it often invokes a sense of melancholy and curiosity.
Simply put, Detroit’s presentation is superb.
It’s clear that a lot of love and effort went into making Detroit’s world feel alive thanks to all the little details. NPCs are plentiful and provide insight into Detroit’s society, you can even choose whether to interact with them or not at certain points throughout the story.
The UI is seamlessly integrated into the game as your protagonist’s own interface, and is cleverly utilized at times to great effect. Thanks to your android programming, you’ll be able to see things like your given instructions displayed on-screen, your chances of success in tense moments, and even the nutritional information of a donut.
However, the rest of the game isn’t always as splendid as its presentation. As previously mentioned, while I found the protagonists to be consistently compelling, the same cannot be said for Detroit‘s individual stories. I won’t delve into specifics since I don’t want to spoil anybody, but I will say that Kara’s story is the weakest of the three due to some unfortunate clichés present in her inciting incident. Additionally, the dialogue in Detroit is at times poorly handled; strangely enough, the androids in this game show more subtlety than humans.
Despite the occasional stumble, I still found the game’s overall narrative to be immensely gratifying thanks to its emotional subject matter.
I do want to take this moment to remind you all that Detroit: Become Human features a wealth of branching paths and endings, so not everyone will be pleased with the story they end up playing through. Furthermore, the consequences to your decisions aren’t always as obvious as other choice-based adventure games (which I found to be a positive). So don’t feel bad if you want to load up a checkpoint to undo a mistake as this game’s checkpoint system is surprisingly forgiving.
Forgiving checkpoints aside, you can still lose characters if you aren’t careful enough. So if you’re not comfortable with that risk, I suggest playing on the casual difficulty which both simplifies the game’s control scheme and lessens the chance of a character dying.
Concerning the actual gameplay, I was pleasantly surprised. This game is a lot more interactive than most choice-based adventure games, and it actively encourages exploration as it’ll allow you to unlock new dialogue options/actions. While some might find the game’s android vision a chore, I found it to be a fun addition as it actually made sense for once (I’m looking at you, Tomb Raider). I will say that movement can be clunky at times, so don’t be shocked if you find yourself turning around in circles at times.
Speaking of the controls, I’m a bit torn. While I found the button prompts to be both clear and immersive, I absolutely dreaded having to use motion-controls at times. Yes, this game features motion-controls. You’ll thrust, twist, and shake your Dualshock 4 as if you were playing a Sixaxis supported game back in 2006.
While I do have a bone to pick with motion controls, the main reason I find them to be a nuisance is because you can’t disable them. In a generation where we’re seeing more and more developers include accessibility settings for disabled players, this game falters.
I truly hope Quantic Dream gets around to patching this, because I do find the game to be excellent, and it’d be a shame for players to miss out on this title due to something as silly as motion controls. All gripes aside, the physical button prompts are dynamic enough to pull you into whatever action you’re performing. Hell, it even made a drab task like cleaning up fun.
Despite its shortcomings, Detroit: Become Human is Quantic Dream’s finest game yet. With its gorgeous presentation and immersive gameplay, Detroit: Become Human is a perfect example of why many consider video games to be as powerful an art form as any other. If you’ve enjoyed any of Quantic’s past titles, are a fan of storytelling, or just want something to keep your PS4 running after God of War, then definitely consider adding this to your library.
Detroit: Become Human is a game that fans of storytelling shouldn't miss.
A fan of all things storytelling, Brandon is a simple dude who just wishes he had more time to finish his backlog. Considers himself a scholar on all things Kingdom Hearts, and maybe (definitely) talks about it way too often.