Written by: Joseph Yaden
With additional remarks from: Stephen Marro
After the announcement that Detroit: Become Human has gone gold, Quantic Dream released a short demo on the PlayStation Store featuring the first level of the game. This level follows an android, Connor, and it gives us a taste of how Detroit will actually play. Connor is tasked with handling a hostage situation where a deviant android, Daniel, is on the roof of a building, holding a child at gunpoint. Maybe I was unaware of the coverage of this game up to this point, but I did not know just how many choices and possible outcomes there would be. A flowchart of all the possible outcomes can be accessed in the options menu, and after seeing that, it put the size of this game into perspective. Just for this short scene there were 6 possible outcomes, with dozens of decisions that lead to that point. In short, it’s safe to assume this game is going to be huge.
The area to explore is small, but there are various objects that Connor can interact with. As a hostage negotiator, Connor can gather information in the level that helps deal with the deviant. I was getting some serious Batman: Arkham vibes when gathering information. There are mini crime scenes that the player must reconstruct on a timeline, just like in the Batman games. Finding information increases the chance of success once the deviant is confronted. While this section was fun to play, I didn’t feel like I had much input with the results; It just felt like going through the steps. Ultimately, I don’t know how important that is for the game as a whole because this was just a short section.
One thing worth noting is that the game pushed back when trying to interact with the environment, specifically with the movement of the character. It was difficult to turn Connor to face the interactive object, resulting in me dancing around, trying to get the prompt to appear. In a game that is so focused on story beats, struggling like this can impact the pacing. It’s not unplayable by any means, but it is concerning that a main mechanic isn’t easy to use. Since the game is so close to launch, I don’t think the movement mechanics are something that will be fixed.
On the other hand, the voice-acting and motion capture performances were captivating, which is why I didn’t mind replaying the level so many times. Frankly, I didn’t expect anything less from the developer of Beyond: Two Souls. I looked forward to how the story would unfold and it was intriguing to know that I had something to do with the outcome. Even from this small snippet of gameplay it seems like we will finally get a game where choices do matter. It’s unclear if this scene will have an effect on the grand scheme of things, but even just as a self-contained story it convinced me to pre order the game.
While the demo was only about 20 minutes long, I was impressed with the amount of possible conclusions to the scene. However, the interactivity within the scene, I felt, was pretty limited. I felt like I was restricted to examining various bodies lying about and small tidbits of evidence. While this makes sense given the context of the scene, I hope that in later, more relaxed, scenes in the game, we'll be able to interact more intimately with the environments.
Also, despite the multiple endings for the scene, I have a hard time seeing how the outcome of this particular scene could have an effect on the overall story. I get the feeling that Detroit will be full of individual scenes and vignettes, much like Beyond: Two Souls before it, that have multiple endings, but little-to-no effect on the overarching narrative. Then again, the hostage scene in the demo is just the beginning of the game, so it's difficult to say for sure just how impactful the consequences of individual choices will be.
One thing that really stood out to me was how beautiful and realized the world was. I enjoyed taking in the little details of the environment. (My personal favorite being a digital magazine cover with a video-image on the front page. It reminded me of the newspapers in Harry Potter.) Everything in the world has a slick, futuristic shine to it, and I've always been partial to this kind of aesthetic.
I'm curious, and pretty excited, to get my hands on the full game on May 25th!
Detroit: Become Human is coming out at a great time. There are no other AAA games releasing around the launch of this game, so it will have more room to breathe. Quantic Dream usually excels in the story department, and from the looks of things, Detroit will be no different. Let’s see how it plays out come May 25th. Don’t forget to check out our review!