Quantic Dream finally releases what they had promised many years ago with their little android short. That’s right, we’re reviewing Detroit Become Human this time! It seems to be a future where nobody has ever encountered the idea of Skynet or the Terminator movie never happened, though perhaps to drop the cynic in me that has a strong desire to tear it apart for every plot hole it produces perhaps we should suspend our disbelief for a moment and see what it’s trying to say. As they say, give it a fair shot. So here we go.
Our setting aside from being obviously a futuristic Detroit shows us that a new type machine that serves a vast amount of functions for its society, androids. Robots that can handle anything and look and sound like just a human except for some physical LEDs that give their identity away. And of course having such a high level of intelligence for something mass produced won’t invite any sort of trouble now, will it? Well surprise it does, and you’re going to play the part of not one but three stories of this title. Let’s go.
Production (5 / 5)
Detroit Become Human does not disappoint in its visual presentation, even if you hold it to the standard of Quantic Dream. Well, let’s put it this way. If the robots of this game passed the Turing test, the game itself passes the parent test. Where they legitimately can’t tell if they’re watching a live-action movie or a game, that is until they see me fiddling about with the controller.
On the PS4 it constantly puts out 30 FPS, so yes it can be better but I don’t think it takes away too much from the experience. What’s rather impressive would be the animation of every character within the title. It’s clear that they really had performers in every scene under some giant motion-capture system. A lot of the environments feel natural as well, having a level of clutter and weathering to make things look like they were already in use and that people have been living around it.
Clearly, voices came from the actors themselves and easily match the models they were applied to. The music was also handled quite well, though I doubt I would be listening to its OST anywhere outside of playing the game.
Mechanics (2.5 / 5)
It’s a little difficult to nail down exactly what are the mechanics of this game, in fact, it’s a little difficult to call it a game at all. I find it more suitable to call it a hypernarrative, where the player or user gets to choose how the story progresses. It’s true that exploration of the environment often leads to additional options in how to progress the story but that’s about it. I don’t think this is necessarily a terrible thing but it does bother me that control notations for interactions don’t seem to be consistent. Use of the PlayStation 4’s various functions on its controller like touch pad, analog stick or motion sensor was originally intended to perhaps make experiences more immersive but it instead makes action disruptive and jarring at times.
One pretty handy thing in Detroit Become Human would be the presence of the story flow chart. Not only does it serve as a suitable way to check point and review progress in the story, it also serves as hints as to what paths and options you may have missed during your playthrough. Though it’s regrettable that sometimes the controls feel very sluggish and yet activating some interactions accidentally can instantly lock your options to proceed in the story, which makes for something quite frustrating.
Content (4 / 5)
The interesting approach to this title is the fact that instead of playing through one you get three characters who each have their own unique story path. In fact, each of the stories appear to run on a different genre. One leans more to horror, one to a detective story and the other being about a heroic revolution. It’s no surprise that the story would be the strong point of the game considering its presentation.
Now, being able to pick favorites was going to be typical so I found myself wanting to get to the story of the detective as quickly as possible, as it had in my opinion, the best characters. It would be difficult to discuss the content further without spoiling the story, so let’s leave it at that.
Features (2.5 / 5)
Aside from being able to compare scores with other people online, there’s a gallery mode where you unlock various related content with the points you earn during your playthrough. The gallery is actually a bit impressive as you get to not only view in-game material but things like interviews about how the game was made.
And well, that’s about it. It would have been nice if there was more of a developer commentary of some sort through the game or material that easily let you know more about the world.
Detroit Become Human is a game that taunts your ability to empathize with its main characters. For some, the blatant waving of its political leanings may make it easy to dismiss what it has to say. It also doesn’t handle its side characters very well, which is a shame because they managed to paint more nuanced characters along the end but managed to do it far too late.
While this piece of entertainment has acted pretty much on-the-nose with its message, I somewhat appreciate what it has to say. The nightmarish cruelties done in the past can be done again, and maybe a lot closer to you than you expect. So best to keep an eye out, most especially with yourself.
No, I don’t think I can just recommend this game to everyone especially those who are just looking for a good time after a long day’s work. But perhaps if you want to try something different that provokes thoughts and feelings out of you, it might be worth a try. Then again, I can recommend another title that might handle androids a little better, as it gives glory to mankind.
Detroit Become Human might become a proper game one day, but today it scores a 3.5 / 5
Available exclusively on PlayStation 4.
We’d like to thank PlayStation Asia for providing us with a copy of the game to review.