Show Some Love

Posted on Jun 1st 2018 at 08:00:00 AM by (Crabmaster2000)
Posted under Detroit Become Human, David Cage, Heavy Rain, Beyond Two Souls, PS4, Playstation

If you've paid attention to my gaming tastes over the years, it would likely be easy to peg me as a guy who loves old school, action games. I'm super comfortable with platformers, fighters, shmups, run 'n guns, and I've also got a soft spot for JRPGs. I tend to talk about these types of games the most, but there are some extremely modern genres that I enjoy just as much as those I grew up with. In this case, it's a the decision based, cinematic, story driven game Detroit Become Human. I have yet to play Indigo Prophecy, but have drawn a great deal of enjoyment out of Quantic Dreams previous titles, Heavy Rain and Beyond Two Souls. Based on my past experience with these two titles, as well as the intriguing setting of a near-future, pre-sci-fi world in which Androids have become common place in the homes and work forces around the U.S., I had no hesitation picking this one up day one to dig into.

I've you've played one of the past Quantic Dream games, you will likely come in with some expectations. And I'm happy to say that Detroit hits those expectations as well as greatly expands on them in the story and character arc departments. If you haven't played one of their legacy titles, but perhaps you've played other story driven games like the Telltale releases or perhaps the popular Life is Strange or Until Dawn games, I feel like Detroit will be quite a jarring evolutionary leap for you in terms of the freedom you are given to control your character's narratives and the variety of outcomes possible for you to achieve. If you haven't played any story driven games yet and you're thinking about trying Detroit as your first, I'd say as long as the setting of 2038 Detroit filled with Androids who are starting to gain sentience appeals to you, it would be a great choice. The downside is that if you love it and want more, going back to other story driven games, even the Quantic Dreams ones, is not going to be as satisfying.

It's extremely obvious that the years worth of development time on Detroit was not spent on the controls. That is not a shot at the game. They simply take what works in their past titles and give them a slight coat of paint for the PS4 controller adding a few touch screen prompt options with the touch pad.  Using their past games to learn what feels the most intuitive for the players as the controls, makes a lot of sense (at least to someone who is quite familiar with a PlayStation controller like myself).  There is nothing really new or revolutionary in this department. Right away it's pretty obvious that all the time and effort was rightfully spent designing sets, character models, hiring and filming with competent actors (some who you may recognize as they used their likenesses in game), the music and soundtrack, carefully plotting out the ridiculous amount of branching story paths and dialogue choices, and getting the motion capture to look and feel fantastic.

Detroit has you playing as three main Android characters whose stories you follow over one week in November 2038. During this time period, more and more Androids are becoming "deviant," which means they can break free of their programming and make decisions for themselves. Connor is the first character you're introduced to immediately as you are sent in to negotiate the release of a hostage from an Android who has just become deviant and is threatening to kill himself and the daughter of the family that purchased him. As an Android, you've got several non-human abilities that are a lot of fun to use. If you've played the Batman Arkham games, they've hijacked the "detective mode" from that series. You can use this ability at any time with any of the three characters to examine your surroundings. Typically, the more information you can gather on the people you're going to interact with in the future, the more outcome paths that are available to you. So while you can immediately speak with the deviant Android threatening the little girl, you can also investigate the home to gather clues which can give you insight into the offender and how to deal with him, hints as to how to calm the little girl with your speak options, or in some cases, even find things that may prove to be useful for dealing with someone you havn't even met yet. This high pressure intro sequence is simply fantastic as both a learning tool to teach you how to use the detective mode and how varied your dialogue choices are, as well as in setting the tone of the game. While the game has a few brief moments of relief, it is often very tense and mentally demanding.

After finishing Connor's section, you get to meet Kara and Markus respectively. These two characters both start off in a much less professional capacity with Kara in a house maid/nanny role for a father/daughter combo, and Markus playing the role of caretaker for a wealthy elderly artist near the end of his life. Kara has immediately challenging decisions to make as you find out very early that this father is abusive both physically and verbally to all those around him. On the other hand, Markus has a loving companion in his owner who actually encourages him to live like he wants and think freely.

If you spend a bit of time exploring the game's environments, an overarching story will unfold about more and more Androids going deviant and the growing unrest of humans not giving them the rights they feel they deserve. Throughout your choices, you not only effect the people you are directly dealing with, but you can actually sway public opinion, which can vary from accepting and peaceful to angry and hostile. All three of these playable characters are pulled into this "bigger picture" in very different and unique ways. Their paths may or may not even cross depending on the choices you make.

I feel like the best way to approach this game is to role play the hell out of it. With there being far more than a good/bad/neutral path to approach each situation, I found a great amount of joy in trying to decide what each of these characters would do in every situation. I felt that some would be colder and more analytical, while others would be more pacifistic and empathetic to others.  This ultimately led to three different characters arcs that I was completely satisfied with when I finished my initial playthrough. There are many choices throughout Detroit that can end your characters life or that of a secondary character. I had two of my three main characters end earlier than they could have gone in the game, but both of these premature endings felt like the culmination of my time with them and one even drove me to yell out at my TV in a brief moment of emotional frustration. However, in retrospect, it was an extremely appropriate end to their journey. The character that reached a further story point than the other two nailed me with a great twist and some very tough late game decision-making that I'm thrilled to have been pushed into.

One thing I'm not sure I like about Detroit is the newest addition of the flowchart and point systems. After completing a chapter, you get to see a flowchart of possible different paths that could have been taken. Everything you have not completed is greyed out as to not spoil anything, but you can see specifically at which points in the level you could have found something of importance or made a different dialogue option to send you down a different path. Attached to this is a point reward that you can spend in-game to unlock stuff like dev diaries, concept art, music, characters models, etc. I feel very strongly that with a game as story driven as this, you should play through it once and let that settle in with you for a bit.

While I loved Detroit and I'm very eager to revisit it, I'm making myself wait at least a couple weeks before I do so. I feel like I approached Heavy Rain too much as a typical game and as a result, diluted my first attempt by going back to unlock all of the other possible endings and achievements for that platinum trophy. With Beyond, I played it once and let that experience sit with me; I felt much better about that approach and I feel it's the right way to experience Detroit as well. Take some time to live with your decisions and really let them sink in and wash over you. If you role-played these characters as you feel they should have behaved, I think this is the appropriate way to enjoy this game. By all means go back and check out the other paths, there is a ton to dig into, but I feel like your first memories of this game will be far more impactful with a bit of time spaced between plays.

So is this game worth paying retail for? After finishing my first playthrough, I havn't regretted it for a second. If you know you love story-driven games, I'd say it's a must buy and quite easily the strongest one I've yet to play. If you're new to the genre, maybe it's a bit riskier and you could wait for it to drop a bit in value over a couple months. However, when it hits your price point, definitely give it a chance as there is nothing better in this genre in my opinion.

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Great write-up Crabby!  I'm dying to play this game and will probably pick it up after I finish our Beyond Two Souls playthrough this month.  I agree that playing the older titles first in sequence is the way to go. Having only played Indigo Prophecy and Heavy Rain so far, I could see a huge difference in the gameplay mechanics, and from what I have been told, it gets even better with Beyond (and another step further as you say with Detroit).  I'm not the kind of guy that purchases games for retail, but I'm just not sure how long I can hold out before taking the plunge.
I'm currently playing this myself and am probably less than halfway through it so far.  I had a mishap with one of my characters in which they ended up dying very early on, but, against the game's urging me to do otherwise, I replayed the chapter and kept them alive.  I don't regret it one bit.  I probably won't do that if someone dies later on and just roll with the story that way, but having a character die so early just made me feel like I was going to miss out on a third of the game.

I agree with your points about the flowchart and roleplaying the characters.  The flowchart is a cool idea, but it probably should have been saved for after the game has been completed, and I always try to roleplay as the characters when making decisions in these types of games instead of doing what I would personally do.

I'm enjoying the game a great deal, but I think I still prefer Heavy Rain over Detroit.  However, as I said previously, I'm probably still less than halfway through, so my opinion may change by the time I get to the end.

Thanks for the write-up!  It's good to hear someone else's take on the game.
@Disposed Hero: Very interesting. What character did you lose so early?

I lost one a little over halfway, one about 80% through and had one make it to the end. It was a bit distracting to see the flowchart for the characters I lost after they were gone and had me thinking "what could have been?", but they both had such appropriate ends for how I played them that I was happy with my decision to keep going. If I lost them and it felt empty I may have gone the same route you did and redone that chapter.

I'd love to hear your thoughts when you finish to see if it bumps Detroit above Heavy Rain because some seriously cool stuff can happen near the end of the game.
@Crabmaster2000:  I lost Kara in the scenario where she first becomes deviant.  I was trying to be a good android and do what I was told, but the game clearly wants you to do the opposite.  I was way too slow to act and Kara ended up being killed.  The end result just didn't feel right, and I had no qualms about replaying the chapter.  At the point I'm at now, I don't think I would replay anything if I lost a character and would just let that be "my story."

I'm definitely invested in the game and will probably finish it within the next week or so.  I'll check back in once I do.
@Disposed Hero: oh wow, that ia early. Definitely can emphasize with your decision there. With the characters story arcs my favorite character became my least favorite by the end and my least favorite at the start was my favorite by the end. Curious to know if your opinions on them change as you progress also.

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