Warning: this review contains spoilers.
First, I’d like to start out by saying that I normally don’t cry over the storylines in video games. This all changed when I reached the end of my playthrough in Detroit: Become Human. If anyone is wondering what part I’m talking about, well, you’ll have to pick up the game for yourself!
Detroit: Become Human is Quantic Dream’s fifth game. Like their previous titles, it focuses on deep, detailed, immersive storytelling, with the player being able to pick their own path and make their own decisions. All action uses quick time events (QTEs) and picking a decision in time. The game focuses on three androids: Kara, Connor and Markus, and their stories in Detroit as they each begin to develop a consciousness.
Where Detroit stands out is when the game continues on no matter if a character dies or the player messes up a QTE. Throughout my playthrough, I was most worried about messing up a QTE and having to restart. Thankfully, that doesn’t happen, though it comes at the price of a character possibly dying, or leaving off on a bad ending for a character.
I did accidentally kill Hank, Connor’s partner, at the end of the game. It seemed like the right choice to me because Hank said he understood what I needed to do. By that statement, I thought the right choice was to give the other androids my knowledge and let Hank take the bullet. Instead, the camera panned back to Hank and I saw my friendship level with him drop drastically. He told me he understood, so I assumed that I was doing the right thing, but he died hating me and I almost died as well. Now, I did go back and restart prior to when I killed Hank, because I was trying to keep everyone alive, but I really liked that the story continued if you failed or had a character die. I regret not going on to see how losing a character could impact the story, but from what I saw, I’m sure it would greatly impact the other storylines in some way.
Another area that is worth highlighting is the voice acting. I was blown away at how convinced the characters made me want to help them gain their rights. As I stated in my introduction, I cried at the end of the game. I didn’t want any of the androids to die and I was beyond afraid to let them down.
When it comes to the dialogue, I was amazed by the depth and detail. As I dove further into the game, I started to pay attention to the small things around me, specifically what everyone had to say. Everything said was extremely important and it seemed as if the most out-of-the-way and minor character could unlock a massive secret. Taking a couple seconds to look around or talk to someone that is sitting could, potentially, unlock a dialogue option further into the game. Doing that same thing could also tell the player more about how the humans view androids or other small details not otherwise found. The level of character development through the dialogue is worth noting, too. By taking a second to talk to North, I could see the type of person she was and how that affected how she felt towards humans. Simple decisions could change everything, and when it came to the dialogue, I scrutinized all my choices.
As for the motion capture, everything was extremely fluid. I especially like the detailed emotional facial expressions. Vividly seeing how the characters felt made me want to help all of them. At one point, my mom walked in and asked if I was watching a movie. Fooled you, mom. It was a video game.
Detroit: Become Human might have been able to fool my mom into thinking it was a movie, but it didn’t fool me when it came to what the game lacked. My biggest complaint lies with how generic, and retold, the story overall seemed. I felt as if it was one that I had heard many times before. People are oppressed and treated badly, so they fight back for equality. Above, I praised the writing, but the main idea of the story is where I have my issues. While playing, I thought about how relatable the game was to society, but how it seemed as if the game didn’t want to dive deeper than the top layer of the issues it presented. For example, when the androids fight back, no one asks them why or what is going on with them. Humans decided to get rid of them with mass extermination and call it a day. While some people are sympathetic to them, and while I’m being completely picky, no one seemed to stop and ask why the androids needed a resistance.
Beyond the quick time events, Detroit requires the player to move the right thumbstick in certain half circle motions to open doors, turn things over, and move objects. This didn’t feel very fluid to me, and I found myself having to do these half circles more than once because I missed a point or didn’t do it right. Other times, I needed to be in a specific spot to trigger the prompt. This drove me crazy as it was easy to miss what you are supposed to do next just because you aren’t looking in a certain direction. I was questioning if I was in the right area or if there was something I had missed. In some areas, the touch-pad is required. Picking up a magazine felt natural as the player is required to swipe on the pad just like the android swipes on the touch screen magazine.
Overall, I think Detroit: Become Human is OK. I’ll forever praise Quantic Dream’s ability to write an amazing game that captures the player. The voice acting, writing, and motion capture had me from the beginning. The wonky controls and generic story left me wondering if I should give it a second playthrough or sell it. All in all, if you are a fan of Quantic Dream games and deep stories, you’ll like Detroit. If you are looking for more than quick time events and require more action, I’d say check out any other release from this year.