I only buy brand new video games if I’m certain I will love them. Sometimes I’m right (”Horizon: Zero Dawn”) and sometimes I’m wrong (Mass Effect: Andromeda). Most of the time, I’ll wait two or three years until I can find the game used somewhere like Mr. K’s or G2K Games.
“Detroit: Become Human” was an outlier. I’ve played some other games from the studio, Quantic Dream, and found their games to be pretty hit-or-miss for me. But this game sucked me in immediately, and I finished it within a week of starting it. Before I get too far into it, let’s review what exactly this game is.
I’ve written before about how I’m usually drawn to video games with strong storylines. Gameplay and graphics usually take a backseat for me if I can enjoy a well-written story with interesting characters. Before “Detroit,” I’d only played two of Quantic Dream’s games: “Heavy Rain” and “Beyond: Two Souls.” Both games went heavy on decision-based storytelling, and the player could get different endings depending on choices they’d made throughout the game.
Decision-making was at the forefront when this game was announced, which piqued my interest, so I only waited six months rather than two years to give it a shot.
I knew the game had something to do with robots, but I wasn’t prepared for how close to home the story of this game would hit. It’s only set 20 years in the future, when the rise of artificial intelligence has put humans out of jobs and created a social imbalance. Throughout the game, you find yourself in the middle of a revolution centered around the rights of androids.
The question “is artificial intelligence a valid form of life?” isn’t a new one; books and movies throughout the years have explored these very same themes. What’s different about this experience is that the game throws you in the middle of the conversation. You, the player, are making the decisions. You decide if androids deserve the same rights as humans. You decide whether to take a violent or non-violent approach to getting those rights.
The impact of those choices is magnified by the fact that these possibilities aren’t so far out of reach in our own reality.
I won’t go too far into the plot to avoid spoilers, but the game takes you through the stories of three different androids: Kara, an android who becomes a“deviant” (meaning she breaks through her code to become sentient and no longer follows orders from humans) to save the life of a little girl, Markus, a deviant who ignites a civil rights revolution, and Connor, an android programmed to hunt down deviants.
I could go on about the story and themes for pages, but since this is a game review, I suppose I should mention some other aspects of the game.
I was blown away by the graphics throughout the whole experience. The characters were created using motion capture of their respective actors, and it’s one of the most impressive uses of motion capture I’ve ever seen. The environment is absolutely breathtaking, and I would regularly find myself pausing the game just to admire the setting sun, reflections of the water or even the creases in a character’s clothing.
The gameplay is . . . well, it wouldn’t be a Quantic Dream game without clunky controls. I didn’t mind it, but I thought it was the weakest point of the game. It wasn’t as bad as “Heavy Rain,” but something like awkward camera angles can really hurt the immersion of an investigative scene.
Playing three different characters also gave the game a chance to weave a lot of gameplay styles neatly together. I found many of the game’s most difficult decisions in Markus’ storyline, problem-solving and ethics took over in Kara’s storyline, and I had a lot of fun playing detective with Connor’s story. All around, I would definitely recommend this game to anyone who likes strong storytelling, interesting characters and decision-based gameplay.
If you’ve had the chance to play “Detroit: Become Human,” I want to know what choices you made! Sent me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.