Developer: Quantic Dream
Publisher: Sony Interactive Entertainment
Release Date: May 25, 2018
ESRB: Mature / PEGI 18
Available Platforms: PS4
Genre: Graphic Adventure
Detroit: Become Human is set in year 2038, in Detroit, Michigan (USA). It’s a glimpse at what a not-so-distant future might look like. Androids (robots that look like humans) are sold in shops for a few hundred bucks to a few thousand bucks to serve humans. They have specialized functions such as house androids that clean, cook and take care of the children. There are also more specialized models like receptionists, police analysts… oh and sex robots of course.
In the game we follow not only one but three main protagonists: Connor, Kara, Markus. You probably know them from the trailers already or played the demo. Each one has their own storyline. They start out linear but in the end all impact each other. All 3 of them are androids and have different functions.
Something goes wrong in the programming of some androids and they turn “deviant”, meaning they no longer want to do slave labour for their human overlords. They become self-aware and see themselves as a new lifeform. The story revolves around a potential conflict between humanity and the dangers of self-aware AI.
That’s what makes this game so interesting: It’s a threat that could become reality in the advent of AI. Many researchers have warned that self-aware AI would be single largest threat to humanity. What if robots infinitely more intelligent than us decide the world is better off without humans? How would we treat them if they did become self-aware? The game brings awareness to this discussion but leaves the player to ultimately draw their own conclusions.
Detroit: Become Human is one of the finest cinematic adventures ever produced. No game before it had such impactful choices. Even not so obvious dialogues will directly impact your relationship with characters. On their own these choices are not always relevant, but your overall reputation with other characters impacts a lot of things down the line. Bigger choices can decide over life and death and there are tons of ways the game can play out (even how each chapter can play out). There is plenty of replay value for a second and third playthrough. My first playthrough took me 12 hours with careful exploration and trying to grab as many trophies along the way as I could. Not bad for a story game, most of them last barely half that long. That’s the upper limit though. If you make certain choices you can shorten the playthrough to 6 hours.
I appreciate that they put in “flowcharts” after each chapter. They show you what decisions you made and which ones you missed. So you can plan ahead for your next playthrough and try the opposite. The flowcharts also show which decisions are connected to which outcome. It’s a cool feature that provides a quick overview of each chapter. Every decision-driven game should have this.
The graphics and character models are some of the best to date. Especially the motion capture, facial details, expressions and subtle gestures. It seems very life-like when they talk. The levels also look very different from one another. Many other cinematic games feel like tech demos or glorified walking simulators but this one actually has substance to it thanks to meaningful exploration and the story.
There are some holes in the writing here and there. For highly advanced robots they sure are pretty stupid and easy to trick sometimes. It doesn’t take away from the overall story experience but on a second playthrough you will notice the occasional inconsistencies.
What I disliked on subsequent playthroughs is that cutscenes cannot be skipped and the credits are unskippable (I did 4 complete playthroughs and many partial chapter replays to get 100% flowchart completion). This is very unfriendly game design if you just want to jump in real quick to test how else the chapters could have played out. Instead, you have to watch through all the cutscenes again, a lot of which are just repeat things you’ve already seen. Games like Life is Strange Before the Storm even have this functionality where you can’t skip scenes on first playthrough but can do it in chapter select. Every cinematic game has to have this, especially when there are collectibles involved like they are in Detroit Become Human. At least the cutscenes are nice to look at to make this somewhat bearable.
The platinum trophy in this game is very enjoyable to obtain. It’s really easy and pushes players to try different choices. It takes 2 playthroughs which is the perfect amount for this game. Pretty much the best list they could have come up with. You can platinum it in 20-25 hours. Going for 100% flowchart completion in every single chapter will take a lot longer though. Only the collectibles are a bit confusing. There are collectable magazines/newspapers and in the exact same spot you can find different ones depending on your choices. The newspaper articles report on the android uprise so if you play a certain way you will get one magazine, if you play a different way you get a different magazine. The problem is there’s no easy to spot indicator what action triggers what magazine, this could have been done in a more player-friendly manner.
*Overall Enjoyment Factor, Fascination with Game World, Level Design, Variety, Playability, User-Friendliness (Ease of Use / Readability / Controls / in-game Tutorials / Menus)
+ Decisions are really impactful and change how the game plays out in big ways
+ “Relationship Meter” is a great idea to make even small dialogues impact your reputation with different characters
+ Flowchart is a user-friendly feature, every decision-based cinematic game should have this
+ The coolest main menu in video game history
– Clunky Controls / Camera Controls
– Cutscenes unskippable on 2nd playthrough (super annoying when going for 100% flowchart completion, different endings, and collectibles)
– Unskippable outro (makes trying different endings really tedious)
*Quality of the Singleplayer Story, Cutscenes and/or Multiplayer Modes (whichever is available). If a game has no Story or no Multiplayer it won’t be rated (thus no negative effect on score).
Multiplayer: Not available (not rated)
*Graphics, Texture Quality, Character Details, Lighting, Weather Effects, Animations, Loading Times, Number of Loading Screens, does it run smoothly
Some of the most detailed character models and facial details ever. Eye-popping graphics.
*Amount of Content, Production Quality, Replay Value, is there enough content to justify a purchase
One of the longest and most ambitious cinematic adventures so far. A playthrough with keeping everyone alive and decent exploration lasts 10 hours. There’s good replay value for trophies and different endings.
*Rates how much fun the Platinum / 1000 Gamerscore is to achieve: Are trophies fun to do? Do trophies restrict freedom of gameplay? Missable trophies? Multiple playthroughs required? Luck-based trophies? Pointless farming/grinding? Glitched Trophies? Are stats/trophies tracked correctly?
The only minus point is the magazines. They depend on earlier game choices hence you can’t get them all in one run and must do some partial replays. The rest of the list is very forgiving though. An easy and enjoyable platinum.
|Extraordinary Score Increase or Deduction
*Reserved for extraordinarily good or bad features that the other categories don’t cover (such as game-breaking bugs). This score is directly added/subtracted from the final score.
Sony hits another home run with Detroit Become Human, one of the top cinematic adventures to date.
Played on PS4 Pro using retail copy (no review copy was provided). Earned the platinum trophy, completed most flowcharts 100%.
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