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Detroit: Become Human

Platform(s): PlayStation 4
Genre: Action/Adventure
Developer: Quantic Dream
Release Date: 2016

About Tony "OUberLord" Mitera

I've been entrenched in the world of game reviews for almost a decade, and I've been playing them for even longer. I'm primarily a PC gamer, though I own and play pretty much all modern platforms. When I'm not shooting up the place in the online arena, I can be found working in the IT field, which has just as many computers but far less shooting. Usually.

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PS4 Preview - 'Detroit: Become Human'

by Tony "OUberLord" Mitera on July 18, 2016 @ 2:00 a.m. PDT

Set in a near future Detroit, the game takes a look at how humans would react if we were confronted with a new form of intelligence, how androids conceived as machines would be perceived if they started to have emotions.

Pre-order Detroit: Become Human

It would be easy to pin Detroit: Become Human as little more than Heavy Rain-style storytelling with androids in it. While the game shares a similar DNA with titles such as Heavy Rain or Beyond: Two Souls, the aim seems to be slightly higher than that of an interactive movie. As David Cage put it during the presentation, the goal is to move the player from the role of actor into that of being a co-writer. Given the number of branching options that significantly affected the scene in the presentation, you'd be hard-pressed to not buy into the mindset.

The game takes place in Detroit, some twenty years from now. Advancements in technology have allowed for the creation of very lifelike androids, which are capable of acting and looking like human beings. They are used within society as teachers, nurses, and laborers, and in many ways, humans are now dependent on them. However, not all of humanity embraces their kind, as made evident by the Android Act, which requires all androids to wear certain clothing to identify themselves. Evidence of prejudice abounds in the game to show that society is far from accepting them as equals.


There is a mysterious issue surrounding androids, with some of them suddenly disappearing while others begin to act erratically or violent. Others yet have committed suicide after attempting to cope with their emotions — an action they are not programmed to do in response to feelings that they shouldn't be having. It's a relatively new issue not known to the public, but an android detective named Connor is working the case to learn the source of the strange new behavior.

Interestingly, David noted that the intention was not to make a game about technology or AI. Instead, Detroit is a game about us as humans, our future, and the meaning of being human. The title has at least two protagonists, Kara and Connor, both of which are androids, and the game is centered on their point of view. Rather than being the enemy, androids are the "good guys" despite the discrimination they experience.

The presentation was the same as was shown during Sony's E3 2016 media briefing, with the android Connor working as a negotiator for a hostage situation. A deviant android has taken a little girl to a skyscraper's rooftop and put a gun to her head, and it's up to Connor to rescue her. Some smaller aspects of the presentation were new, such as Connor having the option to save a flopping fish that fell out of the broken fish tank in the entryway. It was one small example that allowed Connor to have the choice to display human tendencies by choosing to save the fish.

During the first playthrough, the person running the demo led Connor to confront the deviant android. This started things with a relatively low probability of success, which is actually tracked and shown based on Connor's preparatory work before the confrontation. Saying some things in conversation can raise or lower the deviant's stability (in this playthrough, it mostly lowered). Before long, Connor's lack of prep work showed, and the deviant fell off the building to kill himself and the little girl.


However, it didn't have to be that way. In the second playthrough, the person running the demo talked about all of the ways that Connor can explore the apartment first to gain useful insight into the deviant to get an edge in the negotiation. The first thing that was investigated was a gun case lying on the floor. Connor's ability is that he can investigate clues in an area and then completely reconstruct the events that led to the evidence. In this case, by looking at the empty case and the box of bullets nearby, he determined that the gun was owned by the father of the family, and the gun was taken by the deviant android.

In the reconstruction mode, you have full control over the playback of the event, which is represented by wireframe figures interacting with the evidence until it ends up where it was found. You can slowly or quickly go forward and back, and you can learn more details about what happened. In another example, reconstructing the death of a first responder that was killed by the android revealed that the little girl witnessed the shooting, which can lead to different dialog options later.  It also revealed the officer's gun under a table, which can be used to intimidate or execute the android. Kara will also have a unique ability, but there were no details as to what that might be.

In the more successful second playthrough, Connor learns that the deviant android's name is David and was going to be replaced by another, newer android. This caused the android to react emotionally in an overboard way, and all of these details are used by the player — and thus Connor — in the negotiation. This allowed the player to make smarter choices and raise the probability of success. Despite twice telling David that he was unarmed, the player ultimately had Connor use his handgun to execute David to save the little girl. The girl was saved, but there are still more ways for Connor to save them both.

Detroit: Become Human still resembles an interactive movie, but it seems that the player has a lot more agency in this title. Your choices determine if the playable characters live to the end or not, so your choices will ultimately span much larger portions of the game. It's a very interesting take on the formula, and it'll be interesting to see how the rest of the game pans out in its exploration of what it means to be human.



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