Developer: Quantic Dream
Released: 5/25/2018 | Genre: Survival | Platform: PS4 | Price: $59.99
By: Kevin Lane |
Hype Score: 85 | Final Score: 83

I want to state upfront on the record that prior to playing Detroit: Become Human, I had only watched the initial E3 trailers as well as the story trailer that Sony put out on their site.  I knew I wanted to play this game based on the graphics alone, but the story was also intriguing to me.  From movies like iRobot and Ex Machina, and hell, even the Jetsons had a personal maid robot back in the 80s, I’ve always been interested in what the future of that technology truly looks like.  We’re at the tail end of 2018 and we let robots vacuum our house, wash our dishes, dry our clothes, turn our lights on and off, and we will soon let them drive us around.  If we as humans can entrust our lives to self-driving cars, then why not an Android who can clean the house, run our errands, and protect us at night?  I’m a technology fiend, so I would probably be one of the first in line when the real thing arrives.

So Detroit: Become Human bills itself as a Survival Game based in a futuristic 2038 Detroit.  The time of Androids is upon us, and they handle nearly every possible manual labor task ~ from security guard to gardener, from butler to sex slave, this Detroit has it all.  You play the game across three story lines – three Androids (Connor, Kara and Markus) and their individual journeys to “Become Human”.  The FREE Demo (available in the PS Store) plays out the first mission in the game where you act as Connor, the straight shooter Deviant Investigator and top of the line Model RK800 Android.  Deviants (Androids gone bad) are a plenty, and Connor is there to try and find out what is causing their growth.  In the Demo Mission, you learn the play-style of this game quickly.  It is a choose your own adventure Quick Time Event (QTE) playable movie.  And boy does it look like a movie.

Upon initially playing Detroit: Become Human, I was enthralled by the visual effects and scenery.  From the first moments in the hallway (yes, I saved the fish) to finding myself outside on the rooftop of a skyscraper trying to stop a Deviant from throwing a little girl off the ledge, I was in awe of just how visually appealing the game truly was.  Admittedly, I wasn’t happy with how my first play-through of Chapter 1 panned out, so I tried it again and made some different choices which resulted in a completely different end to the scene, and potentially the game itself.  Right from the get-go, I was amazed and wanting more.   I played a few more chapters – one with Kara and another with Markus, and was ready to give my initial Hype Rating. At this point, the game scores an 85 from me.  With just an hour or two in, I’d say pick it up if it is anywhere near your type of game.

Hype Score: 85

After a good 13+ hours of game-play, I was able to complete just one of more than 45 possible endings in Detroit: Become Human.  After my initial Hype Score of 85, I was quickly brought down into the trenches where the first half of the game felt much less like a “game” and way more like I was just playing a movie.  Sure, some of the outcomes of my decisions felt important, but nothing that made me want to re-run a chapter.  I wanted to progress and see where the story took me, which I admit grew on me as I played along.  I would easily say that at the mid-way point of the game, I was starting to lean to a sub-80 rating.  I wasn’t getting bored, but there were a few key things that really started bothering me.

  1. Movement speeds started feeling slower and slower.  A park bench or a wrong turn had the character doing weird round-about maneuvers to get around objects; although the developers did an amazing job making the characters look incredible doing these weird moves.  The movements looked natural and realistic, but in a world of open and free gameplay, guiding these characters felt cumbersome and got tiring after a while.
  2. So many stupid controller actions.  It seems like they could have just played you through quite a lot of the first half of the game, but instead made you pay attention by triggering button presses and right stick movements to progress on things like opening and closing doors, moving shades, checking cabinets, etc.  It wasn’t until the second half of the game that these types of things felt a bit more in place.
  3. Some of the story felt forced, almost pigeon-holing you into making certain decisions. (I’ll explain more below).

After my initial Hype Review, I had a good taste of each character.  I will try to explain without giving away too much of the story below.  Warning, potential minor spoilers below.  I wanted to be consistent and see how it all turned out.  I didn’t know much about the game going in aside from the vast number of possible endings and that the graphics were incredible.  I played Connor as the straight shooter cop.  He was the top of the line model, so I felt he should have no flaws in his software.  Every decision I made avoided enacting Human Emotional response.  As stated in #3 above, this became increasingly hard to do as most decisions really focused on appealing to emotions.  Connor’s partner, Lt. Anderson, was a drunk with emotional problems.  I am not sure why they were assigned to be together (maybe I missed something), but there were many chances to befriend and bond with the Lt.  The path I took resulted in a conclusion for Connor that only 12% of the world got – so I was impressed I was able to hold out the whole way.  Kara’s character was a bit easier to play.  She was the care-taker and protector of young Alice, who was being abused at home.  Spoiler Alert – I broke free of the Android Slavery and used that emotion to kill the trashy dude that was attacking his daughter.  This put Kara on the Deviant List (and Connor’s radar) and she was forced to flee and get Alice to safety.  I played Kara as a motherly figure, doing everything she could to keep Alice safe, while also not worrying her too much.  There were chances to steal or attack, and I always chose to go the most ethical route.  Without wavering, I played her this way until the end – where she met her ultimate demise trying to protect Alice.  I am proud to say, only 4% of the player population received this ending, but I am pretty sure I missed out on a good hour of gameplay going this route.  Lastly, there is Markus – the lead Deviant.  How did he get there?  Well, I played Markus as the guy who had enough of the human’s bullshit.  Markus was ready to take on the world – and he ran into a group of Androids looking for the same.  Every decision made was aimed to hurt the human population – if I was to be a Deviant, I’d be the best Deviant I could be, right?  I chose to attack in every possible circumstance.  I chose to destroy or burn everything I could.  I put teammates at risk for the greater good.  Markus was Connor’s Arch Nemisis by the time this game was over.  I believe only 12% of the playerbase got the same ending.

So, with so many possible outcomes, so many choices, and so many concurrent storylines going on in this game… how do they do it?  I can’t even imagine how they got each storyline straight – but knowing I was one of few to get the combination of endings I saw was pretty cool.  After I got through half of the game, it started getting really good.  I was intrigued by the stories, and I started seeing how decisions I made earlier impacted the actual game itself.  The simple button gestures became less annoying, and were followed up by some great QTEs Conor chasing Deviants or Markus conducting all out war.  I would have to say that even on casual game-play mode, once the quick time events started coming, they were fast and furious.  Many times, you had less than a second to respond, which truly resulted in total loss of characters.  Save Lt. Anderson or Capture the Deviant? GO!  Less than one second and your choice must be made, and the entire story changes.  While I would have loved more of these elements that felt like actual game-play, I truly enjoyed the choose your own adventure style. This was done in such a deep and interesting way that I must applaud the writing staff for having such a vision.

Some final thoughts:

  • Game Length: Over 13 hours
  • Game-play Speed & Style: The movement was the biggest wet-blanket here – I often times found myself button mashing so I could run (to no avail).
  • Difficulty: There was practically no difficulty at all, save for a few quick time events that required instant thinking – but aside from that, movement was the most difficult factor here.
  • Controls: Controls were easy to grasp and simple to handle.
  • Replay-ability: Incredible.  If I didn’t have such a large back-log, I’d probably jump in and give it another go trying different things out.  I plan on playing it through again at some point in the future.
  • Repetitive? No, the story was constantly progressing and I stayed interested in it along the way.  Most scenes were distinctively different than the others.
  • Plot: The overall plot “Will Androids take over the world” is amazingly filled with so many choices and outcomes that make the game incredibly strong.
  • Characters: All three main characters were unique and believable.  After playing through the game, I was amazed at how life-like they truly looked.  Nearly every character with a line in the game had their actual human models mapped into the game – and a bunch were people I thought I had recognized in-game.  Like Kara being that actress Valorie Curry  (from The Following) and Lt. Anderson being Clancy Brown (from so many things including Starship Troopers and Sponge-Bob Square Pants).  Even the secondary and tertiary characters had substance and depth.
  • Hype Factor: This game came with a lot of hype due to its amazing graphics and push by Sony.  I would say that this is visually the most stunning and realistic looking PS4 game I’ve ever played at this point (9/9/2018), which includes Spider-Man (released 9/7/2018).

At 50% through, I had this thing scoring in the high 70s – but with the ambitious storyline and eventual gameplay elements in the second half of the game, along with the incredible visuals and cliffhanger ending (at least the one I got felt like a cliffhanger) – I was left desiring more and ready to play through again.  That boosted the score back up a bit to an 83, which I believe is still a very strong score. This is a great game and if you are into strong story based games like Naughty-Dog’s Last of Us or Uncharted Series, then there really isn’t any reason you wouldn’t love this one.  If it is on your radar, it should be in your backlog and at the top of the list.  It’s got enough for multiple playthroughs, but one may be enough – and in a world of a million games, 13 hours is good enough for me. Now on to the next game.

Final Score: 83