Game Review | Detroit: Become Human
Game Summary: The plot revolves around three androids: Kara, who escapes the owner she was serving to explore her newfound sentience and protect a young girl; Connor, whose job it is to hunt down sentient androids; and Markus, who devotes himself to releasing other androids from servitude.
When you have a game with as many differing routes through some scenes, that result in entire sections of the game being skipped dependent on your choices, it can be a little difficult to do the game justice when trying to talk about its overall quality.
Even so, with my single completion of the game, I can confidently state that this is one of my favourite games of the past couple of years. There is so much agency given to the players to decide what happens to the characters and the world at large, that passive media like movies and TV really does start to feel outdated.
A little over the top? Maybe. That doesn’t change the fact that how you play Detroit: Become Human will always be a far more personal experience than something where you simply sit there and do nothing but watch events unfold on a screen.
Right now I imagine there will be those reading this who will dismiss the last two paragraphs as hyperbole, but I’ve always felt that something you can directly influence and interact with will always provide a greater sense of immersion and attachment than simply observing.
Everything in Detroit: Become Human revolves around the player, an audience of one (or more, as I imagine this would be a great game to watch someone else play, and the number of views for YouTube videos for many of the choices in-game seem to back that up). How the events of the game unfolded for me are almost certainly different to massive majority of other people who played this game.
And this isn’t something like Breath of the Wild or the Shadow of Mordor/War games and those titles reliance on emergent gameplay and/or narrative. Each of the choices, from the smallest detail all the way up to world-altering actions, has been written and left up to the player to discover.
Looking at the flowcharts that show your path of choices through each scene is a perfect example. I made numerous choices where the number of players was in single digits, so it’s highly likely that what I experienced was only shared by a fraction of a single percent of players, if any at all – an incredible idea for a narrative-heavy title.
I’ve avoided talking about the plot or the characters, because even though each player’s experience might be different, each story arc for the three lead characters still has the same general progression even if how the stories develop might be drastically different, as the characters might well be too.
Very few games are made so well that this is the case, with the Telltale games suffering badly in comparison as similarly choice-driven stories. Detroit: Become Human shows just how little variation similar games actually provide, which only serves to make this game shine even brighter.
Even then, it’s not perfect despite all my gushing praise so far. The movement controls are improved from Heavy Rain (the last game I played by the same developers, Quantic Dream), but only barely and aren’t really what you’d expect from a 2018 game. And in some scenes, the lighting makes this otherwise incredible-looking game appear worse than it can be.
One particularly bad example is a scene involving the character of Markus, where the lighting is so dark that it becomes a frustrating process of trial and error to proceed, but even that is mercifully short. Other than these minor complaints, I don’t really have any other criticisms.
Knowing what I do having finished the game once, I genuinely can’t wait to dive back into this game again and try to experience the apparently lengthy scenes that I completely missed out on the first time around – yes, despite a huge backlog of games to get through, I’ll happily put off other titles to play through this a second time (and maybe a third time too).
Detroit: Become Human is a fantastic game with so many choices for the player to make that it demands multiple play-throughs if you want to see anywhere close to everything the game has to offer. The first-rate audio-visual aesthetic and fantastic performances from the three leads only serve to cement the game’s quality.