In the year 2038, androids will become a part of daily life or so David Cage wants you to believe. Detroit: Become Human is an undeniably fascinating tale so let's see if it's one worth telling.
Detroit: Become Human has you follow the stories of three androids: a detective named Connor, a housekeeper named Kara, and a caretaker named Markus. In its futuristic take on Detroit, androids are commonplace as they assist humans with daily life, companionship, and menial jobs that would be cheaper for them to do rather than humans. However, some androids start to stray from their programming and in turn become deviants. These deviants are obviously a threat as their unpredictability is something that mankind lives in fear of. So, it's Connor's job to investigate these deviants and hopefully get to the bottom of why androids malfunction. Meanwhile, Kara and Markus have their own stories and I definitely don't want to spoil anything so I'll just say that they become much larger than the roles that they were programmed for. Of course, the three plots can intersect which is always exciting.
Now that you know the basic plot of Detroit: Become Human, allow me to explain how immersive the story is. Essentially, you're faced with constant decisions that can either have immediate or long-term consequences. Although this is common in David Cage's games (and I played them all except for Omikron), I've never seen choices like these. Characters can die. Stories can end. It's surprising stuff. Also, there are central themes but the story is so open-ended that it's hard to grasp the plot as a whole which is downright mind-blowing. Whereas Heavy Rain, for example, had a strong central narrative, Detroit: Become Human can go in many branching directions, some of which are the exact opposite of others. Without giving anything away, I'll just say that you can either feel like Gandhi or John Wick. I honestly found it hard to sleep after playing through as I wanted to stay up all night just to see what happens next.
To help flesh out this futuristic version of Detroit, the production values are outstanding. The characters don't look quite life-like but it's fairly close. Stunning movie-quality visuals aside, I found the music to be absolutely phenomenal. Each character's story features a different composer so jumping from Connor's cold electronic rhythms to Kara's warm orchestral pieces is nothing short of breathtaking. It all comes together to form a high quality gaming experience that's as engaging to watch as it is to play.
All of that being said, a few moments in the story felt forced. The fact that androids have to stand at the back of the bus and that there's basically an Underground Railroad to Canada are just a couple of obvious references. You might also see androids marching down the street literally saying quotes ripped straight from MLK. Besides these obvious references, there are some out of place scenes, too. One part has the characters infiltrate a tower which looked almost exactly like something from a Mission: Impossible film. Another scene has the female president answering questions from the press and it's so tediously trite. Her slow and monotone delivery sure didn't help. Speaking of subpar acting, one of the characters kept mispronouncing Kara's name and that drove me nuts.
I loved my time with Detroit: Become Human so I don't want to keep discussing its less than desirable aspects but this is a review so I'll just mention one other negative point for now. Basically, some decisions have devastating consequences as I've already mentioned. However, these decisions aren't always straightforward. Once, I was investigating a rooftop and spoke to the lieutenant and he asked if I wanted to go. I thought he meant back downstairs but he was talking about finishing with the crime scene altogether. So, I stupidly confirmed and let's just say that I was shocked what happened later in the story. If you're planning on playing this then you're probably happy that you read my word of warning. Anyway, there are 2 difficulty settings but honestly, just play normally on "Experienced" because the quick-time events and narrower decision making in "Casual" make it a far more limiting experience.
The best part of Detroit: Become Human by far is its branching story. For my first playthrough, I was very happy with two of the characters' endings as I played very carefully and peacefully in order to get the best outcomes possible. There were obviously loads of hardships along the way but I was quite satisfied with where their stories went. I won't mention what happened to the third character. During my second playthrough, I was as ruthless and violent as possible which was strangely gratifying as well. The endings were much different and I'm glad to have seen two sides of the stories. However, I still haven't seen absolutely everything yet.
That actually leads me to my last point. Playing again to discover new paths can be exceptionally tedious. If you decide to do this then I highly recommend watching something else as you play then shift your focus whenever something new comes up. To remedy this, I wish there was a way to skip scenes that you've already watched. What's even more egregious is that you can't jump around the timelines. By this, I mean that if you make a different decision by using the chapter select, you have to play through the rest of the game in order to see the consequences of your decision. Keep in mind, this means that you have to watch the other characters' stories unfold which you may not care about if you only want to change one of the narratives. Needless to say, I hope this gets patched at some point.
Even with its flaws, Detroit: Become Human marks a monumental moment in story-driven gaming. After all is said and done, the fact that your decisions have such a substantial impact reflects reality. The question is: will you make the right choices?
- + Incredibly captivating decision-based story that will keep you hooked
- + Amazing production quality
- + Tons of plot paths to uncover
- - Certain decisions are unintuitive and can have devastating consequences
- - A few forced / gauche moments
- - Discovering new paths is far too tedious