Throughout history, there have been many groups of humans who lay claim to being the master of another individual or group of people. We can see it through slavery over the centuries, individuals who are treated poorly and beyond that, treated in a way where their entire purpose is to be subservient and obey others who rule over them. Seen only as a being to be ordered around, to carry out the wishes of those who call themselves their master. Individuals who are seen as worthless, easily replaced. Individuals who are seen as less than human.
Even in recent decades, we see the treatment and suppression of women, the treatment of groups of people based on ethnicity or race. We see class systems still exist in parts of the world and all of it comes down to certain individuals seeing certain other human beings as second class citizens. People there to often do the mundane tasks or work that those who feel they are superior do not want to do themselves. These issues and scenarios are introduced in Detroit: Become Human, a future where androids are built with one purpose – to carry out the instructions and wants of the human master that paid for them.
Detroit Become Human delves into what it means to be human, is it simply biological? Are machines capable of feeling emotion, of having human like traits? Are all humans even capable of this considering how badly we have treated other groups of people and each other in the past and in the present day? Let’s take a look at Quantic Dream’s latest offering as we travel to a futuristic Detroit, one where androids wish to live in harmony with humans but a world where conflict is inevitable.
Detroit: Become Human follows in the footsteps of Heavy Rain whereby we follow multiple characters, in this case, three different androids, as we play through each of their individual stories. We swap between each of the characters stories once each section is complete, moving onto the next character and pushing the story forward and piecing together the different elements and how they do or don’t fit together. A major area which I must speak of upfront is the quality of the graphics and in particular the look of the characters which carries the weight of the stories and the themes which the game is tackling.
Each of the main characters looks and is voiced incredibly well making them believable, interesting and entertaining to watch. This is even more impressive when we consider that these characters need to tread a fine line between acting as an android apparently would, but human enough to make the player care for them on their journey. In addition to the excellent voice acting is the fantastic soundtrack that accompanies every scene when needed whether it be action packed or subtle and letting the emotion have its full impact. There were a few times I found where the sound effects may have been a little underutilized or didn’t quite have the impact that was needed, mostly in a couple of fight scenes. A minor issue and doesn’t take anything away from the exceptional sound and voice of the game.
Gameplay is very typical Quantic Dream but found it did flow better than Heavy Rain with less unnecessary complicated button combinations and whilst the motion controls still make an appearance, they aren’t used as often which I found to be very welcome. Being the type of game such as it is, don’t play it thinking you will have a lot of gameplay to enjoy as often you will be watching, not doing. This is an interactive story where players are tasked with particular button presses at certain times in a very linear world.
The world that is created is both beautiful and interesting but don’t expect to go wander off exploring it as the game is very structured in how it plays out. Variety and replayability come in the form of different choices that can be made on subsequent playthroughs, altering the story and having the playable characters behave differently towards situations and the non player characters around them who will, in turn, behave differently to the player thus affecting the relationships between them.
I found the story in Detroit: Become Human to be very engaging and never found myself wanting a certain section or part of a story to end. Each scene was entertaining and pushed the story and characters further forward so I felt as if I was always learning something more about the world or characters and the fears, confusion or anxiety that each experience in different ways. I don’t want to mention too much about the story, whether it’s about what happens or other plot points, either significant or not as I feel that by not knowing too much, just as I didn’t, the game gave more back to me than I anticipated.
What the game does is not entirely original but most things aren’t and for me, the main appeal of the game was watching how the androids grew and dealt with the fact that yes, they are machines, but machines with human-like fears and emotions. They way they come to terms with wanting their freedom and having free will and how society views the androids and their place within it. Biological traits which separate organic life and being human to just being an android, a machine. Easily replaceable and something not missed when gone. Detroit also explains to the player through character interaction and dialogue that although we are treating androids in this way, its to be expected considering the way we have sometimes treated each other.
Quantic Dream should be applauded for the game they have created. It’s gorgeous to look at, great to listen to with stellar voice acting, both interesting and entertaining to play through with great characters, an intriguing story capable of being played through multiple times. Whether you are interested in these types of games or not, there is enough here to entertain and perhaps turn you into a fan of the genre.
As gamers, as humans, we have free will to make our own decisions and to choose what we wish. But I for one recommend exercising that gift and use it to play Detroit: Become Human.