Preview: Detroit: Become Human
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Quantic Dream have released a new demo for their upcoming PS4 exclusive Detroit: Become Human (2018), a cinematic action-adventure game that focuses on player choice.
The demo, which is the same scene as the E3 2016 trailer, puts player into a hostage situation seen from the perspective of an android named Connor. Players must then choose what approach they should take to, “secure the hostage at all costs”.
The plot of Detroit: Become Human revolves around the lives of three androids: Connor, a police model who works as a negotiator; Kara, a newly created android and Markus, an android who works to release other androids from their human masters. The fate of each android and the wider narrative of Detroit: Become Human is shaped by the choices that you as a player make which can potentially result in the permi-death of a character.
The story branches out depending on what choices are made and it appears that everything you do has a consequence. How you analyse a situation, the clues you find, how long it takes to find them, and dialogue choices all factor into how successful the mission will be. This is all indicated by an in-game probability meter that appears whenever a significant choice is made.
My first impressions of this game are very good. The demo plays well and the story, from what I’ve seen so far, is intriguing. You realise very quickly that in this futuristic world there is tension between humans and androids. One example is when Connor arrives at the scene at the beginning on the demo; a woman is very distressed that an android has been sent to help instead of a human. Another is that the character of Markus has escaped his human masters and is working to show humans that androids are more than just machines. It looks like dynamic between the human world and android world will play a big part in the story.
The gameplay is similar to that of previous Quantic Dream games and, more recently, Dontnod Entertainment’s Life is Strange, where you are free to explore the area and must interact with objects to move the mission forward. In the demo, Connor is given two objectives: examine the scene and secure the hostage at all costs. You get to choose the best approach to this as you can go straight to the hostage and attempt to free them with no information. This limits your dialogue choices so, if you want to be more precise, you can examine the scene and gather intel which gives you more options when confronting the captor. When you proceed to face the hostage and their captor you can handle the situation in a variety of ways. You can empathise and reassure the captor that everything will be okay, or you can take a realistic and cold approach letting him face the consequences of his actions.
The visual presentation of this demo is what impressed me the most. Whilst the graphics have changed a bit since the first look of the game back in 2016, everything still seems very polished and as far as games go, realistic. When it comes to narratives that are shaped by player choice, I think high quality graphics make a world of difference. Seeing a character as a ‘real’ person in a ‘real’ environment helps form a connection with the character and their story, as if it was you making those choices.
Detroit: Become Human releases worldwide on May 25th.