Review: Detroit: Become Human
Detroit: Become Human Review
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The first thing I thought about when I heard about Detroit: Become Human and Quantic Dream’s vision of an android-populated future was whether in their version of 2017/2018, they too were laughing at memes and YouTube videos of androids and robots falling over doing menial tasks. It’s an important question that I believe needs answering. It does get you thinking though: is that vision of an android in every home, a country with an unemployment rate of 37.4% because androids have taken a vast majority of their jobs, is it an accurate prediction? Obviously we don’t know what the future holds, but is David Cage’s vision that hard to believe? The short and narrow of it is: no, it's not, which is what makes the French studio’s latest choice and consequence driven narrative such a thought-provoking affair.

Say what you want about Cage’s history of video games, but they certainly do pose some pertinent questions, and in Quantic Dream's latest title, Detroit, does just that. It’s a game that explores the fragility of life, the relationship between life and death, the oppression of minorities, the rise of technology, while posing questions like 'can sentient-AI have a soul that constitutes life?'. It’s a game that uses everyday tensions – that we experience today, even – and wraps them up in a compelling narrative that has you on the edge of your seat from start to finish. Sure, it hasn’t always been this way: Beyond: Two Souls split the critics, and Heavy Rain was lauded at first but later ridiculed down the line (we loved it, mind). But for me, Detroit: Become Human is the dev's best work in recent years. Easily.

"You were great as the evil Highlander fella."

Detroit throws you into the shoes of three androids: Kara, Connor and Markus, as they navigate a technologically advanced world coming to terms with the rise of androids. Each character has their own perspective on the events that unfold – events that you drive – and each has their part to play, but in wholly different circumstances. They're well-written characters, each perfectly acted and supported by some great talent. In fact, the presentation throughout the entire game is second to none, from the visuals and the cinematic score, to the voice acting and cinematography, it’s very much a stylised narrative-driven affair that's more akin to a movie than a video game. It can get a little uncanny valley with the characters, their lip-syncing and animations at times, but that’s a testament to Quantic Dream and its work on making some of the most gorgeous characters and facial movements in video games, period.

It wouldn’t be a Quantic Dream game without choice and consequence, and Detroit is no different. Your decisions do have an impact on the main story, but unlike Heavy Rain it seems that’s there’s only really two major narrative threads and variations of those based on the outcome of your choices. You can definitely have very different playthroughs in Detroit, for sure, and sub-stories for each character can vary massively depending on what choices you make, but the long-term effects generally for the most part don’t tend to change. It’s all variations on the overall plot. It’s definitely more varied than, say Beyond, but not quite as varied as Heavy Rain. It's a much bigger game though. Much, much bigger.

That said, in terms of choice and consequence, the game can sometimes be a bit all over the place. There are times when seemingly inconsequential decisions can have far-reaching implications while there are other times when a big decision just tends to fizzle out. Similarly, there are “decisions” that seem massive at the time but are actually mere illusions of choice where said choices rarely change the outcome of the situation. Conversely, there are occasions where you think the game is only presenting you the illusion of choice but then absolutely shocks you to the core when you decide to push it. Annoyingly, there are times when the game builds you up to make a big decision and it just amounts to nought too. For a game that puts emphasis on choice and consequence, for Quantic to do that feels like a bit of a cop out. This doesn’t happen too often, but it does happen.

In Heavy Rain your decisions carried the weight of your player’s destiny in their hands, this time taking control of three androids, that burden seems to have been lifted somewhat. It should be worth noting that it is entirely possible to kill them off for good though, which can remove quite literally a third of the game’s content, so do bear that in mind. For me to actually do that though, I had to go against my better judgement and make choices that I don’t think any human being would, but it’s entirely possible. The fact that they exist should be commended. There are a lot of really poignant moments too that can come by via some simple choices, like an early moment with Markus and Lance Henriksen’s character, which involves a piano composition and a powerful message. That’s all I’m saying, no spoilers!

I guess the lesson to learn is that you never know which decisions will have a lasting impact and which will be throwaway, no matter how big or small they might seem at the time. Just don’t expect them to change the overall narrative of the game too much.

As is usually the case with Quantic Dream’s games, the controls are where the game is severely impacted and Detroit is no different. It’s clunky, a little awkward, and quite why anyone is still using the gyroscope and the accelerometer in 2018 is beyond me. The truth is though, that Detroit clearly values narrative over gameplay, pretty much exclusively, so fumbling through various sections to see their conclusion didn’t really bother me in the slightest. Had the narrative, the characters, the cinematography, the philosophical questions posed (and tackled) not been done quite so well, it’d be easy to turn and point the finger at the controls. We’re certainly more than okay with Quantic Dream prioritising narrative over gameplay - that’s their prerogative - and when so much effort is put into it conjuring a strong-narrative action-adventure, you can see why. Oh, and the camera is still a mild annoyance too. Nothing changes there.

Kara: the one who started this whole thing.

While the controls aren’t the game’s strong point, the gameplay itself for the most part is strong. Quantic Dream’s quick time event shtick should surprise no-one, whether it’s through epic chase sequences or intense combat moments, it just kind of works for the studio, and more importantly, Detroit. On top of that though there are some pretty cool detective scenes as well, and while they may be mechanically quite simple, they play an important part in ensuring the game feels fresh – you can even fail them too, which almost certainly does have an effect (it did, we tested it).

Yes, there are some almost mundane sections early on and littered throughout, but they’re clearly used to make a point: androids in this version of the future are slaves, so mundane tasks were always going to be on the cards. The beauty with Detroit is that everything has a narrative purpose, even if it may seem a touch monotonous at the time.

That’s the thing with Detroit: Become Human, it’s one of the few video games out there that prioritises narrative over gameplay, and we’re completely okay with that. Detroit is a game chock full of personality, a game that has something to say, one that questions the very world we live in or could potentially live in one day, and smothers it in a thoroughly enjoyable plot with a cast of delightful characters. It’s probably as close to an interactive triple-A cinema-going experience as you’re likely to find. Let down somewhat by some still shaky controls and the illusion of choice and consequence, Detroit: Become Human is still very much a great video game, another big-hitter in Sony's ever-increasing list of must-play exclusives.


From the voice-acting to the original composition, Detroit is a pleasure on the ears.

Detroit: Become Human on the PS4 Pro is actually quite stunning. On the vanilla PS4, it’s a pretty game. Some of the best facial animations and faces we’ve ever seen, although lip-syncing can suffer from uncanny valley syndrome at times.

Does a bear shit in the woods? Do Quantic Games make clunky games? After all this time you would have thought they’d put more effort into their controls, but alas, no, that’s not the case.

A wonderful cinematic experience that offers food for thought and hours upon hours of edge-of-your-seat stuff. Brilliant.

Standard fare here: loads of secret, choice-based trophies. What you should expect, really.

Quantic Dream’s foray into the world of the future is a provocative affair, one that poses more questions than answers and puts you at the forefront of the narrative. With an excellent trio of characters, some incredible production values and some gripping story beats from start to finish, Detroit: Become Human is some of Quantic Dream’s best work. With a bit more actual choice and consequence, and some better controls in their next game, Quantic Dream could make that jump from excellent developer to legendary studio.

Game Info
Quantic Dream


US May 25, 2018
Europe May 25, 2018
Japan May 25, 2018

Players: 1
Online Players : 0
ESRB: Mature
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