Before Detroit: Become Human came out, I had mixed feelings about the game. When I first watched the trailer and videos of the demo, I was super excited to see how the game would turn out. However, when I started considering the game’s mechanics more, I began having doubts about the execution of a choice-based game. My biggest concern was that the game would become a story-based production where the player would merely press buttons to indicate his or her choice. My first play through turned out to be a pretty fun experience. The game had many flaws that the producers clearly tried to suppress and often failed to, but overall, I enjoyed my first 5-6 hour play through.
To begin, Detroit had a multitude of flaws. First, the leading third of the game was very boring. When using one of the characters, Cara, in the first couple of hours, I merely completed chores for my “owner” and did monotonous, auxiliary stuff. The same notion gameplay applied for another of the protagonists, Marcus. I completed chores and took care of my owner. Furthermore, the game introduced me to a wide, potential-filled dystopian world, but the game unfortunately seemed like a extended cutscene with a few taps of my right stick and buttons here and there. To add to the misery, even when the story begins developing with Carl advising Marcus on humans co-living with androids and Kara discovering her lousy owner’s abuse towards his daughter, the gameplay still sustains its dullness. The gameplay contained an excessive amount of walking and slow moving. Moreover, the developers made clear that they were trying to turn a non-game into a game. They created a lot of achievements, along with a points system that contributed to an “extras” section where the player could obtain auxiliary items that didn’t translate to the game itself. Overall, the large portion of the game served to fill up the gameplay with accessories to cover up its lack of action.
Even through its unfortunate lack of action, I still did enjoy the game. It provided a huge multitude of options for the player to choose in every situation. The game had also had beautiful graphics that contributed to its futuristic feel. Following the dull introductory couple of hours, the story developed into something very intriguing. In terms of Connor, the android detective, his investigations and tasks were thrilling, making me want to play even more to see what would happen next. Hank, Connor’s partner, also made the story more interesting as he showed his weaker side as he tries to cope with his son’s death. Hank definitely develops into a consistent character who is constantly tired, angry, or sad. The concept of AI developing emotions is seemingly cliché, but the execution of this concept was actually unique as Connor begins developing deviant tendencies and Hank begins sympathizing for the abused deviants. Hank asks Connor, “What are you really?” The question raises conversation on a larger topic within the game’s world, because while Connor himself is an android, the player is a human who controls him. This phenomenon really speaks to what constitutes subjectivity, because while the androids are expected to obey their masters under all circumstances, in many occasions, obeying can take many different routes. Connor also begins to notice that the deviant androids have nothing in common. This realization indicates that these deviants are not rooted from one specific robotic factor, but rather, from different circumstances affecting different emotions. Marcus and the player’s use of him also raises many moral questions. My use of him and Cara were in direct conflict with that of Connor. Through Marcus’ fight for justice, he realizes that freedom, despite being a right, often needs to be fought for. By the end of the game, I embraced my desire to follow my agenda of obtaining android equality. Throughout the game, the dialogues and choices were very thoughtful and constantly contributed to the mission’s results. Playing on the “experienced” difficulty added gravity to every choice I made.
On top of the story’s many messages and complexities, the limited gameplay was fun. The action scenes were actually exciting. I always wanted to make sure I won my fights and chases because the “experienced” difficulty level was very punishing. The construction and preconstruction scenes, along with the puzzles, though sometimes monotonous, were pretty fun. I enjoyed using the Marcus and Connor’s superior android abilities to complete certain missions. Also, the progression systems, while they often felt forced, definitely contributed to the game. The flow chart was a great way to track my successes, failures, and potential paths to take in future attempts. Comparing my progress with the rest of the world was also exciting. Furthermore, the achievements often felt excessive but still felt rewarding. Finally, watching my relationships with different characters was entertaining. The relationship tracking, unlike the achievements, had a gravity to them because they directly contributed to the livelihood of my three characters along with that of surrounding characters.
All in all, Detroit: Become Human exceeded my relatively low expectations. The game had many flaws, including the often-dull gameplay and the boring first-half. However, the game’s progression system and the freedom in decisions-making gives power to the player as he/she journeys through relationships and tough decisions. The next-gen graphics also add to the game. The game could’ve improved a notch if the action scenes were not limited to a tiny minority of the game. Detroit takes time to get into, and even when the gameplay does speed up, there is often a lack of actual “gaming” happening. Analyzing the details and taking careful thought in each decision definitely allows the player to enjoy free control throughout, but patience is key when exploring Detroit. If you are looking for an action-packed game rather than an RPG, this game might not be for you.
Final rating: 70/100
Human, Detroit: Become. “Detroit: Become Human (@Detroit_PS4).” Twitter. May 24, 2018. Accessed May 28, 2018. https://twitter.com/detroit_ps4.