For better or for worse, David Cage is renowned in the gaming industry at this point. Fahrenheit, despite lacking the popularity of Cage’s later games, introduced a new form of storytelling in video games, with Heavy Rain and Beyond Two Souls following. Mixed opinions circulate about Cage’s repertoire of games, so apprehension was in the air when Detroit: Become Human came onto the horizon, as well as a lot of controversy. People were asking “Is this game going to be good, but still packed full of the mistakes Cage made in every other game?”
Detroit: Become Human takes place in the near future in -you guessed it – Detroit. And there’s been a technological advancement that’s taken the entire globe by storm: Androids. They’re sold as products and serve functions, such as cleaning homes (which is Kara’s, one of three protagonists in the story’s, function), entertaining in a club, or even being a significant other.
Cage doesn’t shy away from looking at the state of society now and where it could lead, and poses a lot of questions. What happens when technology becomes sentient? Do we treat technology the way we should? If there were human-like androids that could serve our every desire, where would we cross the line?
People were worried Cage wasn’t going to approach topics with caution, or sincerity – namely due to a tech demo that people argued approached one topic haphazardly. Although Cage doesn’t wrap the issues in cotton wool, he doesn’t slam into them with a battering ram either. There’s not necessarily sincerity, but there certainly isn’t any apathy – which makes the situations that may be uncomfortable for some, uncomfortable for the right reasons.
Gameplay is similar to Cage’s and Quantic Dream’s previous games, but definitely more polished. It’s been a while since we’ve dived back into one of Cage’s worlds, but there are noticeable changes. The parts of Beyond Two Souls and Heavy Rain that made those games good are meshed together, so the story is fantastic, the gameplay isn’t clunky, and the choices have weight.
Choices having consequences is illustrated perfectly by the “flowchart” at the end of every scene. You’ll see which path you had taken to reach your outcome, and which paths you could’ve gone down. The game won’t necessarily tell you what was done to follow those other paths, but there’s a variety of ways to approach nearly all the scenes in the game, and so the game definitely allows replayability; which isn’t something easily achieved in story-driven games. Choices are deeper than picking one thing or the other, however, as your decisions made in scenes can also build or destroy your relationships with people around you and lead you down a path that only happened because you upset someone.
Throughout the game, the player assumes the role of three different characters, all of whom are androids and have different stories that all weave into each other at different stages. Kara finds herself with more responsibility than she ever expected, Connor has a mission to complete no matter the cost, and Markus is trying to change the world for the better. The gameplay and the ambience when playing as different characters is, as it should be, very different. Connor may be found investigating crime scenes, while Kara is stuck in a broken home trying to fix what may never be repaired. This is also helped by three separate soundtracks being composed for each character and their scenes.
One word to describe Detroit: Become Human would be innovative. The game tiptoes into waters that we, as a society, are going to have to wade through in the foreseeable future, but does so in an enjoyable gaming experience. Cage can be knocked for his choices in writing but, when his latest game does so much right, it’s hard to knock it for what’s wrong. Detroit: Become Human is undeniably one of the strongest games of 2018, through the passion and love that’s been put into every single detail, and it takes a strong step forward for choice-driven games that should follow by example.
Image: Detroit Become Human/Quantic Dream