Review: Detroit: Become Human (PS4)

Review: Detroit: Become Human (PS4)

Platforms:

  • PlayStation 4

Platform/Hardware Used:

  • PSN Download
  • PS4 Pro
  • HDTV

Extras:

  • DualShock 4 Required (1)
  • Move None
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Title: Detroit: Become Human
Format: Blu-ray Disc / PSN (42.56 GB)
Release Date: May 25, 2018
Publisher: Sony Interactive Entertainment
Developer: Quantic Dream
Original MSRP: $59.99 (US), £49.99 (UK)
ESRB Rating: M
PEGI: 18
A copy of this game was provided by the publisher for review purposes.
PS Nation Review Policy

Audio Review:
The audio review for this game is available on Episode 577 of the podcast.

Gameplay:
Detroit: Become Human is the fifth game from Quantic Dream. Set twenty years in the future, Detroit is now the android manufacturing capital of the world. These lifelike androids have become commonplace and deeply integrated into society, but this massive change has come with a cost.

While the overall economy is booming, unemployment is at record levels, with androids taking over large swaths of jobs across many industries. They even make up the bulk of our armed forces. They’re seen by most people as nothing more than property, just dumb machines built to obey the whims of their masters.

Since this is the story of an awakening in the machine consciousness, the parallels to slavery and the Civil Rights movement are front and center. You’ll be asked to make some hard moral choices along the way, and making it more difficult, some choices are tied to a timer while others are not.

The game is really designed to make you think and it does so by (literally) putting you in the shoes of three different androids with intertwined stories. From chapter to chapter you’ll bounce between them, making critical choices that will affect not just the overall story but also the stories of the others, especially where those stories intersect.

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The scope of the narrative and the consequence of your choices are hinted at when you finish each chapter. You’ll be shown a flowchart which allows you to see the path you’ve taken through the narrative. Paths or items you didn’t explore can be seen as nodes on the flowchart but they’re simply locked grey boxes.

Because of this, you’ll be able to see the overall scope of the interactions and choices you’ve missed and it grows with each chapter to the point that, as you near the end of the game, there will be entirely blank flowcharts. These are untouched because of choices made earlier in the game and the scope of it all becomes pretty staggering by the end.

Choices carry over and accumulate so your interactions with different characters can have far reaching consequences on the story and can impact it in ways you can’t even imagine. I was certainly taken aback several times by where my choices led me.

As Connor, the prototype android Detective on loan to the Detroit Police Department, it’s your job to hunt down deviants, androids that no longer follow their programming. Markus is a caretaker and Kara is a domestic helper, but that’s all I’ll say about that.

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What’s really interesting is where the stories intersect. You can, at times, end up bouncing back and forth between two characters while playing a chapter and it gets really tricky if they have conflicting agendas, at least based on the choices you’ve made that have led up to that specific point.

And this is where the fun begins. Because of all the different choices and how they can have far reaching effects, your story may be completely different from my story. You could make choices that send you down a path that was completely locked off to me due to my choices. At the very least it allows for plenty of replay. This can be done at any point through the menu, allowing you to go back and try different scenarios in each chapter after you complete them.

That being said, it’s best to play straight through the first time without going back and changing things. This way you’ll have your own story, shaped according to your choices in the moment. I should point out however that your characters can die at several points in the story, just in case that might influence some of the decisions you make.

Detroit: Become Human is a tightly focused narrative so don’t expect a big open world in which to play. More often than not you’re on a pretty set path and you’ll even come across invisible walls every now and then. Since you’re an android, this is masked in a clever way at times. When the narrative demands a specific action on the user’s part, your programming won’t let you go anywhere else and you’ll see ghostly red barriers blocking your path, repeating your instructions.

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The androids have some really cool abilities that you’ll be able to exploit from time to time when you enter the “mind palace”. This is a way of seeing the world through cause and effect, allowing you to preconstruct different scenarios or reconstruct things that have happened. I don’t want to get into much more detail here, but just trust me when I say it’s really cool and you’ll have some fun with it.

As you play you’ll notice that you’re accumulating points at the end of each chapter when going through the flowcharts. These can be spent on Artwork, Videos, parts of the Soundtrack, and some other things in the menu.

You can play in either Casual or Experienced difficulties. Casual is for people who just want to experience the story, with simpler controls and less chance of characters dying. Experienced gives you advanced controls, more immersive gameplay, and a deeper challenge where your characters have more of a chance of dying.

Visuals:
From top to bottom the visuals are outstanding. Every character looks incredibly detailed and lifelike, even background characters, which tend to suffer a bit in most games. The hair on Connor’s partner doesn’t always look the best, but North’s hair, and really the hair of all the women, is outstanding.

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This is our world in general and Detroit in particular twenty years from now. Things are still very familiar, but the incremental advances in technology make a big difference. There really are some brilliant design ideas in here that I would love to see make the jump to the real world in the next twenty years.

Audio:
During motion capture the actors had to go through many scenes a number of different ways and they did a tremendous job at making every line read believable. The voice acting, and by extension each performance, is really fantastic from top to bottom.

The background music is really nice too, with each of the characters having their own themes. One place where I did hit a small issue is later in the game where I was watching a video playback of one of the characters. The speech didn’t match the animation at all which, briefly, pulled me out of the experience.

Online/Multiplayer:
This game is one player only with no online component.

Conclusion:
Detroit: Become Human is a modern take on slavery, individual liberties, and civil rights. The overall story, at least as it played out according to my choices, is really good. Nothing felt heavy handed or out of place and the actors and their performances really helped bring the world and the narrative to life.

The vast number of choices and the way storylines unlock is very impressive, to say the least. I had a few chapters where I took my time and I felt like I’d seen and done everything, only to see large chunks of locked grey boxes in the flowchart when I finished.

The choices can really pack an emotional punch and some were really difficult for me to make. The ending of my first playthrough affected me more than I expected it to, which, for me anyway, is a sign of a really good game. This one is definitely worth a few playthroughs, and I’d highly recommend it to anyone looking for a good story with great style.

Score:
9.5

* All screenshots used in this review were taken directly from the game using the Share functionality on the PlayStation 4.

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Written by Josh Langford

Josh Langford

Josh has been gaming since 1977 starting with the Atari 2600.
He currently owns 26 different consoles and 6 different handhelds (all hooked up and in working condition) including all consoles from the current generation.

Josh is currently the US PR & Marketing Manager for Fountain Digital Labs and has recused himself from any involvement on PS Nation arising from posting or editing any news or reviews stemming from FDL.

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