During my time at Fan Expo 2017 I was able to get hands on with David Cage’s next interactive thriller, Detroit: Become Human. I normally go into these demos feeling excited, but I couldn’t help but be a little apprehensive considering my history with Quantic Dream’s games. See, while I love the concepts behind the stories of Heavy Rain and Beyond: Two Souls, their poor execution left me desiring something more substantial and coherent. It’s my sincere hope though that this game achieves a different result because what I experienced was extremely gratifying.
Detroit: Become Human’s demo begins by hurling players into the role of Connor, a Police Android whose specialty is to hunt down deviant androids that are misbehaving and endangering human lives. With our job established, Connor is called to the scene of a double murder and hostage situation, where he must piece together what happened and why if he has any chance of saving the life of an innocent girl held at gunpoint by a fellow android.
What’s immediately established as players explore the scene is that androids are not trusted. Every human Connor interacts with treats him with little to no respect, almost as if he’s an unwanted attachment or a potential risk despite his valuable skill-set. Even the mother screams in despair as she sees that she must trust an android to save her only daughter.
As with all of Quantic Dream’s thrillers, the interactive portion of the game has players making critical decisions by interacting with the environment and directing the dialogue choices of the primary characters. In this scenario, the climax is a hostage negotiation between Connor and Daniel, the deviant android. Upon entering the crime scene, I could immediately talk with Daniel and try to negotiate with him to let the little girl go, but without exploring the scene I wouldn’t even have known Daniel’s name. I wanted to arm Connor with every potential piece of information and played the part of an informed detective that aimed to save the lives of both the android and the human.
During my investigation, I discovered Daniel’s purpose, his relationship to the family he served as well as the event that broke his programming and made him turn deviant. Connor’s investigation was thorough, picking through the belongings of the family and recreating the dark gritty murders of both a first response officer and the father through in-game interactive VR simulations. I felt sorry for Daniel because he used to be a “happy” android betrayed by the ones he lived to serve, but I can’t sympathize with his decision to murder his owner in cold blood because he was going to be replaced.
Armed with all the key evidence and information I could find, Connor headed out to confront Daniel. Quickly dialogue trees were filling up with new options to calm Daniel down. I threw away my gun, called off the chopper that was circling around him and said all the sweet words Daniel needed to hear to feel safe. Unfortunately, one dialogue choice remained lock at the very end, which may have been the one choice that would not have saved just the daughter’s life, but Daniel’s. Daniel was shot three times by snipers after he released his hostage and with his final synthetic words, called Connor a liar. Scene end, exit stage right.
I felt engaged every step of the way during this slice of Detroit: Become Human and I thoroughly enjoyed it. While I felt the last dialogue choice was locked on purpose for shock value, my biggest worry about Detroit is now the unknown. Connor is only one of three playable characters and while I would love a game exclusively built around this android detective, I know there’s more at play with rebels seeking freedom and an android discovering what it means to be alive. My hope is that Detroit: Become Human remains just as engaging as its demo because I would love to experience this futuristic world and discover the tale it wishes to tell to the very end.