The journey to becoming human
It’s been a long process to get to Detroit: Become Human. Quantic Dream’s tech demo Kara began the journey back in 2012 and since then the team at Quantic Dream have built a new engine to accommodate this game and not only that, director David Cage and lead writer Adam Williams took over two years to complete the script for the story they were building. The development of Detroit: Become Human itself is a fascinating one but that’s not why I’m here, no no I’m here to review this action-adventure set in a future that is all too real. So buckle up ladies and gentlemen and be prepared to question every decision you make in Detroit: Become Human.
Setting the stage
The setting of the adventure is Detroit in 2038, the world is a supposed paradise. With the birth of androids, humanity has the opportunity to rise to loftier goals. Unfortunately, as the player learns more about the world you will learn that all is not as it seems. This is fascinating to discover and helps shape this world in which the characters live. This added depth is brilliant and makes Detroit: Become Human something quite unique.
Detroit: Become Human has a massive cast of characters with more than 250 actors portraying 513 roles. The player, however, will be in charge of the destinies of 3 androids. This trio consists of Kara (Valorie Curry) a housekeeper android, Markus (Jesse Williams) a caretaker android, and Connor (Bryan Dechart) an android who is designed to hunt down deviants which the players learn are androids who have glitched and gone against their programming. I won’t go too deep into SPOILER territory with regards to their journeys but suffice to say the game starts off relatively simple for these 3 characters and becomes progressively more complex as you play the game. But I’ll discuss that later in the review.
What is it to dream of electric sheep?
The gameplay involves you the player choosing the fate of not only 3 separate androids but possibly the world as your choices can have minute to global consequences. Once again Quantic Dream has given players a glut of choices when it comes to decision making. Fans of the hugely successful Heavy Rain (and the not so great Beyond 2 Souls) will recognise a lot of the mechanics in Detroit: Become Human. Many decisions will be hinged on time, meaning most of the time there is no faffing about. Entering buttons at the right time so that you overcome the obstacles you’re facing whether they be human, android, or environmental. An example of this is when you play as Connor the bladerunner of the trio. You must hunt down deviants and you need to find them as soon as possible so figuring out clues, finding evidence and finding the key buttons to press to get the most out of your suspects is essential. Connor is easily my favourite character as he has the best combination of a compelling story and engaging gameplay. His human partner Hank (played to perfection by Clancy Brown) is brilliant as the gruff lieutenant who hates androids. By the end of my playthrough, I would easily buy a whole game about these two solving crimes and getting people out of jams.
Now just because Connor was my favourite android does not mean that Kara and Markus aren’t brilliant in their rights. With Kara’s story, you will get the most emotional as her journey is all about the protection of a small child and how far you are willing to go to protect her. It’s brilliant and the locales you visit range from the breathtakingly beautiful to the grotesquely horrifying.
With Markus, it could be said that this is where the game falls down as it is the narrative at its most traditional. Markus begins a rebellion and as the progenitor of said rebellion, you will have to make the clichéd choices that the leader of a minority trying to rise up against your oppressors would have to make. This would be a major issue if not for the fact that the combination of the cinematography and the score adds further weight to the choices you make. It also doesn’t hurt that the acting is on point with every actor in the game which elevates the script when it needs it to hit home with the player.
The building blocks
As I stated earlier the score and cinematography of Detroit: Become Human are some of the games major highlights. One element that struck me is the score of each character is handled by their own personal composer. This means that when you enter the world of Connor it feels different to the world of Markus and Kara which is just another subtle piece of artistic genius. If there is anything technically an issue with the game it is the graphics. The world we were sold in previous trailers is not as polished as we were led to believe and the game did run into one major moment of glitching for me when Hanks’ face seemed to turn itself inside which was quite the experience. There were also moments when the rendering of scenes in the game took their time which was unfortunate.
The finished product
Detroit: Become Human is a hell of a game. The characters are unforgettable filled with nuance and grace. The gameplay is action-packed and addictive making sure when you replay this game to get every conceivable ending you won’t ever get bored. And the score and cinematography are breathtaking bringing an emotional weight to every consequence of your every action.