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Detroit: Become Human

Platform(s): PlayStation 4
Genre: Action/Adventure
Developer: Quantic Dream
Release Date: May 25, 2018


PS4 Preview - 'Detroit: Become Human'

by Chris "Atom" DeAngelus on April 24, 2018 @ 2:00 a.m. PDT

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

Pre-order Detroit: Become Human

Linear and cut scene-heavy games are often called "interactive movies." It's sometimes an insult, and it's sometimes an attempt to describe the sensation the game provides. For Quantic Dream, developer of Heavy Rain and Beyond: Two Souls, "interactive movie" is about as close as you can get to describing the game's actual genre. Rather than focusing on gameplay or puzzle-solving, their games are dramatic stories where the player can change the tone and feel of various scenes through their actions, and occasionally, they can shift the outcome of a story. The latest game from the developer, Detroit: Become Human, doesn't break the mold, but this time, it's far more "Blade Runner" than "Seven."

The preview build puts players in control of Connor, an android who specializes in negotiations. In the futuristic world of Detroit, robots like him are a part of everyday life, though they're treated entirely like disposable tools despite their sentience. Connor is called into a crime scene because Daniel, a servant robot, has gone rogue and taken a little girl named Emma hostage. Daniel has retreated onto the balcony and is threatening to either shoot Emma or leap off the side unless his demands are met. When Connor arrives, he's given a short period of time in which to investigate the apartment to find clues as to what caused Daniel to go rogue and perhaps something to talk him out of hurting Emma.

If you've played any of Quantic Dreams' previous titles, this segment is going to feel very familiar. To be honest, not a whole lot has changed from Heavy Rain and Beyond: Two Souls. The same basic adventure game gameplay is present and largely unchanged. While there is some light puzzle-solving, it's nothing that qualifies as a real brain-teaser. For example, Connor can use his cyborg intelligence to reconstruct the crime scene and look for clues that would otherwise have been missed. However, the game is very clear as to where the clues are, so you won't have a particularly difficult time finding them. Each discovered clue gives you some metaphorical ammunition to use when you finally talk to Daniel.

Everything comes to a head when you confront the android kidnapper, and there are a variety of possible outcomes. Depending on what you did and didn't find while exploring the apartment, you'll be able to negotiate with Daniel in different ways. Your mission is to save the little girl that Daniel is holding hostage, but it isn't as simple as talking him down. Depending on what you do, the situation can escalate quite rapidly. The best outcome is that Connor manages to save the little girl, and the worst outcome is that both Connor and Emma die. It all comes down to your choices.

It's a surprisingly tense scene because there are consequences to your choices. The high-quality animation sells the tension of the scene, and it's easy to want to save Emma merely because her death is heartbreaking and uncomfortable to watch. Every choice you make causes the chance of success to rise or fall, and it adds to the sense of fear when you head down the wrong path and see your chance of success plummet. Finding all the clues doesn't promise you success, but missing one or two doesn't doom you to failure, either.

Perhaps the biggest difference from Quantic Dreams' previous games is largely transparency. Heavy Rain and Beyond Two Souls weren't exactly obscure, but it could sometimes be difficult to tell what did and didn't have an impact on the scene. From the build, it seems like Detroit: Become Human is a lot clearer about what exactly matters. It's doubtful the entire game will be quite as blatant about the success rate of things, but there are plenty of indications that that the game is going to be very transparent. For example, there's a flowchart that shows the branching paths and all of the possible outcomes, which makes it easy to understand why certain actions had certain reactions.

All in all, Detroit: Become Human feels like a Quantic Dreams game. If you were a fan of their previous games, then there's a lot to like here. The brief snippet of gameplay showed off many of the developer's strengths, including jaw-dropping visuals and tense moments of drama. By the same note, it's hard to say it will change the mind of anyone who didn't like Heavy Rain or Beyond. If the entire game lives up to what was on display in the preview build, it has the potential to be Quantic Dreams' best game yet.

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