Quantic Dream are known for their titles featuring interactive drama, especially with their previous title, Beyond: Two Souls, in 2013. Unfortunately for Beyond: Two Souls, the game received mixed reviews largely for its non-structural plot and unrewarding choice outcomes throughout the story. For this time around, have Quantic Dream learned from their prior downfalls with Detroit: Become Human?
The game is the third title from Quantic Dream, and exclusive to PS4. The story is set in a 2038 version of Detroit – the cityscape is both ultra-modern and dirty, and life has become incredibly efficient due to the populous of human-like androids that roam the city. Built by CyberLife, millions of androids are now in circulation as a staple appliance for every household and business.
The storyline for Detroit: Become Human is told through three android characters: Kara, Markus and Connor in which the game cycles through for each story segment. Kara is a housekeeping android who lives with a struggling and abusive single father and his daughter. Markus is a caretaker android who looks after an aging, renowned painter with his day-to-day tasks such as picking up painting supplies and cooking food. Connor is a prototype android owned by CyberLife, who is designed to investigate androids that go rampant beyond their programmed boundaries (referred to as deviancy). When androids turn into deviants, Connor and the Detroit Police Department are on the trail.
With the time spent with their human masters, both Kara and Markus start to develop emotions for the injustices they observe and yearn for a sense of freedom. It is interesting to note within the story of Detroit: Become Human that the motives behind Kara and Markus to break free are not solely for self-gain. There is an element of selflessness as they are placing the interests of their human master first, along with doing what they feel is right.
The game starts off with Connor playing the role of a negotiator in a scene where a deviant has taken a child hostage. This segment is from the demo and makes for an effective tutorial as it demonstrates all the key elements that will be exhibited throughout the game. This includes character choices and analysing clues to rebuild past events, while allowing the story of the segment to flow and stay intact. It was also great to see that Detroit: Become Human has a structured storyline that is both continuous and chronological. Even with cycling through three characters, the story remained easy to follow with no use of flashbacks or different timelines.
One aspect that Detroit: Become Human has greatly improved on, compared to previous Quantic Dream titles, is the character choices throughout the story progression. The choices you make throughout the game can greatly affect the story outcome, and this is seen with a flowchart at the end of each segment. Items that you find or interactions you have with people can unlock other paths in the flowchart, which can add extra dialogue or outcomes to the story of that particular segment. When looking at the flowchart, you can see all the different story outcomes that remain hidden/locked until being played, as well as stats for global players and friends for which story paths they chose. This is an excellent feature to Detroit: Become Human as it introduces a high level of replayability to the game, and it compels the player to revisit a segment multiple times to see all the different narratives that can be played.
The controls in the game are very user-intuitive. Simple actions such as opening a door or picking up an object are done by rotating the analog stick or pushing it down, but more complex actions start to utilise the full capabilities of the DualShock 4 controller. Pulling or pushing an object requires the player to move the controller rapidly towards or away from them, and opening larger doors is done by rotating the controller clockwise or anticlockwise. It’s great to see these actions being integrated into the game, but some can be tedious and unnecessary. At one point, the touch pad is used to wash dishes by swiping side-to-side which does not add any value to the game.
When playing on a PS4 Pro is where Detroit: Become Human really shines. The game supports 4K natively with HDR, revealing very sharp graphics such as skin textures, buildings and landscapes. It is incredible to see such a level of detail and finesse to the design of each character, and with no noticeable drop in frame rate, the game held up well with general gameplay and rendering cut scenes.
Detroit: Become Human is an impressively polished title and it is great to see that Quantic Dream have listened to their past criticisms. With an easy to follow story that remains structured, along with multiple outcomes depending on the choices made, it leaves the player with a remarkably immersive and replayable experience.
Detroit: Become Human was reviewed on a PS4 Pro with a review code provided by the publisher.