Review: Detroit: Become Human – Some time ago we played a small part of Detroit: Become Human. Then we were actually quite impressed by how the atmosphere was put down in the game. Now that the release is upcoming, we have been able to experience the full story. Because this is a game that focuses on a cinematic, interactive experience in which the story plays a very big role, we will not go into it too deeply in this review. It would be a shame to give everything away. We can tell you how the overall presentation of the game is and whether the story has been worked out from start to finish. Do we have to deal with convincing characters or a bunch of defective Androids? You’re going to read it now.
Three characters, three different experiences
The game revolves around three main characters. The first is Connor, an Android in the service of the police and sent by CyberLife (the company that produces Androids). He will have to identify defective Androids from CyberLife that show irrational behavior. That means Androids who have emotions and act freely. Markus is an Android that stands up for the freedom of this ‘deviant’ Androids. Kara is a ‘deviant’ Android that follows her own story between the two other Androids. It is especially the way these three characters appear that make Detroit: Become Human so good. Each of the Androids experiences their own story, but they all have something to do with each other because of the different situations that gradually arise.
Because yes, these situations will be experienced differently by all players the first time they pass the game . Throughout the game the player is confronted with a large number of questions and choices. This often has to do with the ethical question of whether Androids should have emotions or should only be treated like stupid machines. Because of this theme, the concept of Quantic Dream works so well. There are several games that are similar. So you have Heavy Rain and Beyond: Two Souls from the same developer and of course Until Dawn from Supermassive Games, but the concept of this game works exceptionally well with the existing issues and moral dilemmas.
Because the consequences of the many choices so diverse can be, everyone can have a different outcome per scene. Think of being honest with someone in a conversation, being aggressive or just nice, or possibly even just walking the other way, where the other person stands up again. Virtually everything influences the story and that ensures that Detroit: Become Human can offer enough different experiences to those who play the game several times. That is very impressive, because many of the choices cause major changes. After our first playthrough it turned out that we had missed no less than three complete scenes and that can certainly save an hour or more at 10 o’clock.
At the tip of your chair sitting
The gameplay, or rather: the control, of the game is very simple. You can walk around, which runs smoothly, but goes at a safe pace. You can also pick up and view objects here and there. This is done with the help of the facebuttons and the shoulder buttons, but sometimes the game also asks for subtle movements that you have to make with your controller. The motion sensor in the controller works very accurately, so you will never have to make exaggerated crazy movements. Incidentally, this is gone if you opt for the ‘Casual’ control, which is even simpler. If you have some experience, just choose the ‘Experienced’ control.
The use of the buttons together with the movement of the controller provides a nice addition to various actions and it is also never a disturbing factor. Everything works accurately and smoothly, but if you think that the game in terms of gameplay is a boring intention, you will be disappointed. In addition to walking around, picking up objects and viewing items, you can also investigate environments. As Android you can scan the environment in search of hints and discoverable places and corners. This is very useful and also fits very well with being an Android.
In addition to that, the game also contains enough exciting moments where you have to stay very alert, since you make quick choices at action-packed moments that directly affect your character. In fact, if you are too slow to enter the indicated buttons, it can lead to the death of characters around you. The Android you play with can also find death and that has the result that you miss all the scenes of the relevant Android in the rest of the story. Something that also greatly benefits the replay value, because missing one or more Androids immediately causes a different gameplay.
Everything has been thought
The game presents a series of situations and choices that can be quite overwhelming . It can happen that you make a wrong choice and that you regret certain decisions. Here Quantic Dream has come up with a nice solution in the form of a ‘Flowchart’. This is a kind of card that shows all the decisions you make in the game. Per checkpoint you get the option to replay from certain points and make other choices. The Flowchart also keeps track of which choices you have missed and that without spoiling the outcome, so that the different outcomes can surprise you. A very good addition in our opinion; it saves a lot of annoyance and time to experience the other outcomes that you missed.
But there is more thought. The button prompts, the menu and the extras in the menu, which we will not reveal … to really everything was thought and it is well taken care of. The story is absolutely the highlight here, because it has been worked out so well. The characters are interesting from the beginning to the end and that you can give an extra twist to everything with the many choices you have per scene, makes it even more intriguing. There are so many choices and we already indicated that you need around 10 hours for the first playthrough. Do you really want to see everything in the game? Then this number can easily be tripled. Investigate everything, hear every conversation, follow the story with or without certain scenes … and so on. Although the game has a linear structure, you can get a lot out of it.
The Uncanny Valley effect
Although Detroit: Become Human is not necessarily the most beautiful game ever, it has more than enough moments when it shows that with its graphics it contributes to the conviction of the story. The environments, the lighting, the animations … everything looks extremely good. This is combined with a nice piece of acting from the many characters that the game is rich. The only thing we noticed at times was the lip animations. Because the game presents the characters in an incredibly realistic way, some flaws and imperfections just get a bit more forward (this is called the Uncanny Valley effect). For example, the lip animations are sometimes not entirely accurate and occasionally even a bit awkward.
Compared to other games, it is still of a good level, but in this game With very realistic facial animations, that’s just a bit more striking. And so there are a few other small technical things that we noticed. Think of characters that just come out of their default position at the beginning of a scene, small glitches with regard to the placement of the characters and towards the end also scene transitions not all equally smooth. We also caught the game here and there on a light frame drop, but all of that is actually negligible if you compare it to the overall experience. Furthermore, the game is just fine, so you will not be bothered by it.
The characters are very well worked out. The world is convincing and graphically it is of a more than decent quality. For example, the reflections on wet streets look amazing and the many characters are of a very high level. In fact, there are moments in the game where you can not really distinguish the faces. It sounds a bit exaggerated, but take it from us that it can look really lifelike. A lot of attention has been paid to the quality and details. In addition to all the details and the convincing characters, there is another element that takes the game to a very high level and that is the soundtrack.
It is perhaps one of the most impressive elements from the game. How the music manages to accompany the many scenes is almost perfect. The emotions are supported by a beautiful violin and cello sound, the violent action scenes with bombastic, yet melodic tones and so there is an audio play for every situation. Everything is right. Every piece of music is a perfect extension of what happens in the scene. We have rarely been able to experience this in such an excellent way in a game, because Quantic Dream really thought about how to present it. You will not easily find much better than this.
While it carries many many of the traits of that make a Quantic Dream game so different from the rest of Sony’s first-party exclusives, Detroit: Become Human is still a bold and accomplished experience that’s leaps and bounds away from its previous efforts.