It all started in 2012 when developer Quantic Dream revealed to the world a technical demo showing the progress they had made since their last game, Heavy Rain. I remember watching that trailer and always wondering what would happen to Kara after she’d left that android factory. Six years have passed and I never thought I would see the day where that tech demo would become a full fledged video game. Welcome to Detroit.
If you have ever played any of Quantic Dream’s video games you will know exactly what kind of experience you will have here with Detroit: Become Human. It is a heavily narrative focused interactive story with tons of different outcomes that are all dependent on your choices and actions. If you need some form of an example just think of it like a Telltale game but on steroids, lots of steroids.
It is the year 2038 and androids have become the norm in the United States with the city of Detroit essentially being the birthplace of it all. You play as three characters in this story that can span about 12 hrs. The first android you take control of is Connor, a prototype android specifically tasked with aiding in investigations with the police. Kara and Markus are both androids who are tasked as caretakers to their respective homes. Without spoiling any of the story beats, what I will say is that each one of these characters you play as have their own personalities and distinct features that set them a part from one another. Each android will face certain situations that the player must overcome while at the same time, a bigger story is buiding in the background to connect all three characters together. It is incredibly deep and complex but most of all one of the most impressive qualities about Detroit.
Story and characters aside, the way the game actually plays is pretty straightforward. You control each characters movement with the left stick and use the right stick to control some of the camera. The cinematography is such that it feels like you are the star in a major motion picture. Basic actions are done using the right stick with a simple prompt telling you how to move the right stick to perform certain actions. When things get too heavy, expect to use every function and button on the Dualshock 4. Touchpad, face buttons, triggers, right stick and even motion controls are all present for the more intense moments and trust me there is no shortage of them. Everything functions the way it should and I never had any problems with the controls except for the occassional clunkiness with character movement throughout certain environments.
Visually Detroit: Become Human is a tour de force on PS4/PS4 Pro and Quantic Dream is a studio that never fails at achieving this feat. Lighting, character models, level design, every single aspect of Detroit from a technical perspective just screams of the highest quality with no stone unturned. There are the occasional instances where character model’s faces would take a few seconds to load in but nothing that was immersion breaking. I’d be remiss if I did not mention the amazing soundtrack to Detroit. Not only is the music a wonder to the ears but it accentuates each scene almost to perfection. The right music at the right time never fails to enhance a particular moment and this is another feat Detroit pulls off so well.
The most impressive mechanic and biggest selling point to Detroit is the ability to shape the story and characters as you see fit with significant consequences. What’s more interesting this time around is that your choices affect relationships with characters around you and depending on what you do or say you can unlock extra paths to the story that you would not get otherwise. It makes for a story that can be replayed multiple times and have each run play out vastly different. It is insane to me how Quantic Dream is able to pull all of this off while still telling a story that is cohesive and compelling.
With story, mechanics and visual prowess aside there is little to take umbrage with but worth noting. I do feel the pacing within the beginning hours can drag a bit. It’s not a complete hindrance to the game but I felt it was a bit too slow and somewhat runs that fine line of putting someone off from continuing further. I am completely aware it is to establish the universe of Detroit but it can run on for quite some time before anything significant in the plot begins.
I mentioned the clunkiness of the controls earlier on and that is something I hope to see improved upon in future titles. There were instances, not many, but instances where a character while in movement can get glued to an object or person and you are forced to completely step away from them to be able to go around with ease. It is nothing game breaking but can lead to moments of frustration especially during intense scenes.
With all of that said I’ve been a fan of Quantic Dream since the days of Fahrenheit or what is known in the U.S. as Indigo Prophecy. That game completely opened my eyes even further to the potential of this medium and I followed the studio’s work ever since. With Detroit: Become Human now upon us I truly believe this is Quantic Dream’s best work yet and I cannot wait to see where they go next. Admist the ever growing need in this industry to diminish single player games I am grateful to have publishers and developers like Sony and Quantic Dream to always reassure me that these types of experiences will never go away.
Detroit: Become Human was played and reviewed on a PlayStation 4 Pro.