Quantic Dream’s ambitious new title is made to be replayed
Much of my recent two-hour play session of Detroit: Become Human stuck out to me, but what lingers more than anything is the itch to answer my biggest question: what if?
What if I had walked a different path? What if I had answered something incorrectly? What if I hadn’t shown restraint in that moment? Would things have stayed the same? The beauty of Detroit: Become Human is that with every decision and action, no matter how seemingly small, the player gets a direct view at the world that could have been. The game spells this out with a choice flowchart at the end of every scene that highlights the path you walked, and all the roads that were left locked by your choices.
While I felt confident in my choices, knowing that there was another world where I could have learned something new or where someone might not have died left me excited for when it would be my own save file, so I could go back and play through their lives again and again.
Beyond the need to know what if, I felt myself wanting to spend more time in Kara, Markus and Connor’s world. Each android is a different model, and while they are all based in the same city with storylines that will eventually intersect, they all start out in very different places. The time spent building out the relationships with the humans in their lives felt nuanced, with smaller tasks like cleaning or fetching items allowing for moments of introspection and discovery. I leafed through every digital magazine, one of the many small touches that help to flesh out the world these characters are living in.
The smaller moments when I could choose what to do with my time between major objectives also let the world’s environmental details shine through. Quantic Dream’s vision of Detroit feels thoughtful and immensely real. Beyond the stunning graphics that had me pausing in colorful parks and rainy alleyways just to take it all in, the attention to detail in setting the scene made every moment feel full. I marvelled during Markus’ scenes in particular; the motion capture and detail in his face is nothing short of stunning, and his role as a caretaker for his wealthy artist owner Carl allowed multiple glimpses into how human these androids can really be. Carl is one of the few characters that treats his android as though it were human. As a result, Markus is given the option to build an identity for himself outside of his caretaking duties, and these quieter moments of reflection made his later scenes that much more poignant.
Gameplay shifts depending on which android you are playing as, but every motion or conversation choice felt fluid. Connor’s crime scene recreation is particularly fun, creating investigation loops that are a natural and more engaging progression from the AI glasses Detective Jayden utilized back in Heavy Rain. I found myself replaying the recreations even after I had put the clues together, just enjoying the inventive UI.
Kara and Markus found themselves in more emotional situations, and the controls here were more subtle and immersive, encouraging me to lean into the weight of my choices and the narrative. If I guided Kara in front of the TV while performing her tasks, her owner Todd would eventually yell that she was in the way. If I maneuvered in different pathways, Todd’s daughter Alice would slowly start to move closer, allowing for opportunities to speak with her and get her to open up. A scene with Markus found Carl encouraging him to paint something on his own, and I found the touchpad painting controls made the scene flow seamlessly, never breaking the emotional buildup.
My all-too-brief play session ended with all three characters in a moment of panic or discovery, leaving me counting the days until I can get back into the world of Detroit: Become Human to finish out their stories again and again when it releases May 25 on PS4.