Detroit: Become Human (PC, PS4)

I originally started to write this review soon after I completed the game, which was a few days after it’s PS4 release but never got around to finishing it. I only discovered that it was half written after finishing my Persona 5 review and was looking through my drafts for something else to write about (I have a few drafts sitting there that I’ve been meaning to write about) and with it’s release on PC not so long ago I guess it makes sense to revisit it. So let me take you into a not so distant future where androids obey the will of their owners, unemployment has skyrocketed due to cheap android labour. Social tension is high, the city is at boiling point and revolution on the horizon.

A friendly warning before I start, from this point on Here Be Spoilers.

The story revolves around 3 main characters. First up is Connor, an android commissioned by Cyberlife (a leading android manufacturer) to aid the Detroit police to investigate how and why androids are becoming self-aware (known as deviants). Next is Markus, an android owned by a rich elderly gentleman to whom Markus acts as his butler, chef and general confidant. Finally there is Kara, another android owned by a dead beat, drug addict, child abusing father of one, to which Kara acts as general house maid and punching bag.

As you will know I am a huge fan of Heavy Rain (It actually being the first review that I posted) although less so with Beyond: Two Souls, but like Heavy Rain I was excited about it’s release so it was only natural to pick this up on release day. Although I don’t think it quite lives up to the height of Heavy Rain, I’d still rate it closer to that than Beyond: Two Souls. Much like it’s predecessors it’s graphically very well rounded and of the finest detail, the motion-capture is well worth a mention as it’d probably one of the best I’ve seen in video games. However, as is the problem with the previous Quantic Dream titles the game play is where the game is let down. The controls are still as clunky as ever and the characters seem to move with very little urgency even when faced with life and death situations, where you’d think moving fast would be of use. I mean they are androids, it’s not like they are going to get out of breath.

There does seem to be a lot more “cause and causality” in this game than in Heavy Rain or Beyond with many more branches to the story depending on action and relations with certain characters. In fact at the beginning of my first play through I refused to break Kara’s programming so didn’t play as her for the rest of the game and as such missed out on a fair chunk of the story. The characters are relatable, you can sympathise with them wanting to be treated as equals, especially in our current political climate.

There is also a greater emphasis on morality in Become Human, when Markus rises to lead the rebellion, the play can decide whether to approach things with violence and destruction to get what they want by force or whether to act peacefully and sway the court of public opinion to your cause. Either way I’d go into the game choosing one or the other as a half arsing it is only going to get you a bad ending.

Now for my final thought. It does seem that when it comes to Quantic Dream, “The more things change, the more things stay the same”. The game suffers from the same faults as all those that came before it. The story little depth and clunky game-play grinds whatever flow the game has to a slow trickle. With Heavy Rain at least the story was executed in a compelling way and had a goal to keep you playing through. Beyond’s story was so disjointed and the flow so poorly you’d think the the office intern knocked the original script off David Cage’s desk and hurry replaced them in whatever order he could grab them before anyone found out. Detroit had all the potential to be great, but lazy writing and poor scope prevented this. The game boasts about having 40 different ending like it’s a good thing. I’d rather have 3-4 well written, engaging endings than 40 poor developed ones. Like how I’d rather have 4 packets of Walkers Salt & Vinegar crisps as opposed to 40 packets of a cheaper brand.

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