Great. Now, I wanna be an android.
Not that that’s what the game wants you to feel. In fact, the story of Detroit: Become Human puts you in control of three different androids and gives you an interactive and immersive idea of what it would feel like to be treated as a third-class, non-human, non-citizen. And, it’s no picnic. But, I loved every second of it.
I’m a sucker for a game that gives me choice and this one has pulled off that idea better than any I’ve played before and made it visually mind-blowing at the same time.
Heavy Rain, Beyond Two Souls, and Until Dawn are other notable games that utilize cinematic gameplay, clue hunting, and QTE to make their stories come to life and allow the player to affect the future of their characters. I’ve played them all.
But, this one takes the digital cake.
Get ready to question what it means to be human.
Get ready to be nervous about how relevant these ideas are.
Androids indistinguishable from humans, except for the LED indicators on their temples, are now embedded in every part of our lives.
In the year 2038, you can pick up your very own android from the local Cyberlife store for the low cost of $7,999. They’re in charge of construction. They clean your home. They make up a massive portion of our military. They’re “stealing” our jobs. You can rent one for 30 private minutes (if you know what I’m sayin’).
These AI topics are sitting right in the front of our brains these days. Think Westworld, Ex Machina, Her, Black Mirror, and Tron: Legacy. They all paint the picture of a near future that has us co-existing with technology in a new and extremely personal way. Detroit: Become Human falls into these categories with subtle, yet powerful, storytelling devices.
Good storytelling minimizes the need for the characters to toss out tons of expositional dialogue because the visuals and the environment tell the story just as much as the people do. This game masterfully follows that path.
Walking around in this Detroit of the future tells you so much of what you need to know about the state of the world that we don’t have to get bogged down by too much on-the-nose conversation. Are there moments of obvious plot verbiage? Sure. But, never enough to pull you out of the experience.
I’ve seen a couple reviews that said it was slow and was focused on boring details. I couldn’t disagree more.
In fact, I’d argue that the beauty of this experience is in these nuanced details and poignant moments. They’re all in place for a reason. And if you’re not drawn in while playing Connor in the opening sequence of the game, you may not be human yourself. Check to see if you’re breathing.
As far as some of the quieter, methodical moments go (especially in the beginning) I’d argue that it’s actually an incredible way to communicate what it would feel like to be one of them. Feel what it’s like to be ordered around and spend your day doing mindless chores. I did more chores in Kara’s opening chapter than I did in real life today. Feel what it’s like to be degraded, abused, and forced into obedience. Feel what it’s like to care about a human.
You may know these feelings already because you’re alive, right? It’s fascinating to embrace the idea that the androids would also experience these things and, at that point, what makes us different from each other besides the material we’re composed of?
Yikes. Existential malfunction.
Appreciate these early game moments and let the story build because build it most certainly does, whichever way you choose to play.
So much of the fun is in getting to wander around and observe the interactions of other characters in the city, look at the billboards, get your snoop on anywhere and everywhere that it’ll let you. It won’t take much convincing. This game is gorgeous.
Prepare to spend a questionable amount of time wandering around the eye candy that is everything in this game. Just staring at raindrops on people’s faces like you’ve lost your mind. Sometimes, you’ll sit there thinking you’re in a cutscene. Jokes on you, player. That’s gameplay.
Once you earn some points from playing the story, you can spend credits in the Extras section unlocking behind-the-scenes goodness and 3D models of all the characters you encounter. I’ve never spent more time doing 360 rotations with the right stick trying to get a closer look at my character’s pores.
It wasn’t that long ago that we were playing games made out of obvious blocks and pixels. Now, we’re already here?
BTW: This whole motion capture-creating characters that look like the real actors that portray them-thing? I’m into it.
That’s how I discovered Rami Malek (who plays “Josh” in Until Dawn) and, therefore, discovered the awesomeness that is the show Mr. Robot.
But, I digress…
You get to step into the shoes of three different androids that are coming from very different circumstances in this world. I’d go into more detail about who they are, but that’s up to you to decide what their arc looks like. What I can say is that each one of their stories is compelling. You never have a moment of, “Damn, I gotta play as this fool again?”
Not even once. You’re about to do all kinds of cool things.
Wanna investigate a crime scene by licking blue blood off your fingertips, but then also question the nature of your own existence? Wanna take care of a wonderful old man, but then also lead a revolution? Wanna clean up after a red ice addict, then try to get to Canada?
What can I say? The gameplay is smooth. Naturally, you’re able to scan the environment with your special android eyes to find objectives and points of interest. QTE chase scenes feel fluid and so does your character movement 98.6% of the time. I did run into one glitch during the gameplay that affected a relatively major choice and, hopefully, that’ll be fixed soon. Otherwise, this game feels like being dropped right into a movie where you decide the ending.
THE PLAYABLE ANDROIDS
CONNOR – The Efficient Detective (Actor: Bryan Dechart)
So precise and logical. So meticulous about keeping his tie straight and his jacket on point. What will you do when you meet your maker? Do you care more about your partner or the mission? Make him cold as ice or make him question his programming. Your choice.
MARCUS – The Game Changer (Actor: Jesse Williams)
He’s more human than some real humans and he gets to decide how the new world will be shaped. Will you protest peacefully for the rights of your people or take matters into your own hands by any means necessary? Will you be terribly good looking? Yes.
KARA – The Caretaker (Actor: Valorie Curry)
She definitely didn’t win the lottery in happy home placement. How far will you go to protect your new family? How long can you go undetected while on the run? Will you use others or try to find a path to freedom on your own?
Oh, the sweet terror of making the “wrong” choice. The beauty of this game is that every player is going to decide who they want their Connor, their Marcus, and their Kara to be. You learn about yourself when confronted with certain pivotal crossroads.
Would I sacrifice someone to get what I want?
What do I want?
What this game does well is legitimately make you feel like your choices matter. While I think we’re still in the beginnings of creating games that are dramatically different for every player, this is a wonderful effort. I can only imagine the kind of planning it takes to have so many choices playing against each other. Mind boggling.
The best thing you can do for yourself in this game is explore. The more knowledge your character acquires, the more options they’ll have when the important choices present themselves.
Same with real life, don’t you think?
If you don’t want to play this game more than once, I don’t understand you as a person. It took everything in my power to not reset a chapter on the first play-through because I jacked something up, but I stuck it out. To err is human.
I wasn’t messin’ around the second time, though. That first experience gives you a much clearer idea of what it might take to get your ideal ending.
The game creators encourage the exploration of different outcomes and provide you with a handy flowchart at the end of each chapter to see what choices you’ve made and how many other directions you have left to explore. So handy. Get in there.
I can’t help but want the most pleasant ending. Save everyone. Live by a strong code. There are actually a lot of endings that I don’t really want to see. But, hey, if you’re more interested in the GTA life, you can burn it all down.
You will have them. Even if you don’t want to, you stubborn pillar of emotional strength.
The magic of this story is that sometimes the androids behave more humanely than the humans…if you so choose. It’s a story about what it means to be alive. It’s a story about prejudice. It’s a story about how far you’ll go to survive. It’s a story about what it will mean to be a human when we almost definitely create these types of androids in the future. We love convenience, dislike chores, and long for connection.
We’re on the path, people.
Can you imagine being created to obey another (more fragile) being, gaining self-awareness, then constantly being punished and hated because you’re “stealing” their livelihood (through no choice of your own) and just your mere existence serves as a reflection of everything about them that isn’t “good enough”?
Well, you’re about to.
You’ll also be asked to participate in a little player survey at some point on the main menu. Check the results of this particular question during the time I was playing:
Like it or not, this game will have you thinkin’ thoughts.
Get your copy here (or with any other link on this site) if you wanna support me, but check this game out either way, players.
It’s a beautiful experience.
Check out my podcast, “We’re All Human with Courtney Diamond”. Episode 30 has a solid chunk of AI relationship talk.
There’s a pattern here…
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