I’ll be honest, taking on this review was a tough feat for me. As a spoiler-sensitive person myself, I typically avoid talking story details as much as I can in my reviews. I’ve said this many times before, I believe a game is better experienced going in knowing as little as possible. Even though Detroit: Become Human is a narrative-driven game, I’m not going to dive deep into story specifics for the sake of your enjoyment of the title.
Quantic Dream is a studio that is well known for taking full advantage of the hardware it’s developing for. Cranking out incredibly realistic looking games and immersive, engaging stories to go with it. I’m happy to say that trend doesn’t end with the developer’s latest entry, Detroit: Become Human. Detroit is the culmination of everything the studio has done right over the past decade.
A look back at the developer’s previous two titles: Heavy Rain and Beyond: Two Souls. Heavy Rain featured an intriguing tale of a father and his missing son. While visually impressive at the time, the game lacked in terms of quality voice-over talent, intuitive controls, and it didn’t run great on PlayStation 3. Beyond: Two Souls surpassed Heavy Rain in both the visual and character-performance departments, but the story just didn’t resonate with most people the same way Heavy Rain did. I’m happy to say that Detroit: Become Human brings things full circle by offering an immersive story on the same scale as Heavy Rain and stellar presentation with a rock-solid cast of characters akin to Beyond: Two Souls.
Detroit Become Human plays very similarly to those two games, however, this game gives you a bit more camera control. If you decide to use the right stick the camera will move down behind you as a third-person game would — being an interactive drama, I believe this is the most suitable outcome for this style of game.
While I’m on the topic of controls, I must say, I loved that Detroit includes fun and fluid ways to use the DualShock 4’s touchpad function. Very few games have ever used it, which begs the question why Sony ever even decided to put it on the controller if they weren’t going have its first-party studios utilize it outside of it being a normal button. Aside from that, my only gripe involving the control scheme is that you use the right stick to control the camera as well as interacting with things in the world. As you can imagine, this causes you to do things that you don’t want to. Sometimes when I would try to spin the camera around I would accidentally open a door or pick something up. It wasn’t extremely tedious, but worth a mention nonetheless.
Is This Real Life?
As I hinted that before, the game is absolutely stunning. I was constantly amazed at what the studio was able to accomplish. There were even moments throughout the game where I actually thought I was looking at a real-life video but turned out to be in-game gameplay. And it almost goes without saying that the character models are damn near life-like. However, some areas do look more detailed than others. While a bustling city with rain and wind effects blew my mind, other indoor sections felt a bit less ambitious in terms of textures and lighting.
If you know me, then you know I’m not usually one to gripe about graphics, but there’s a reason why I want to elaborate on them in this review. It’s because a game like Detroit will often have you simply walking around doing mundane tasks. In comparison to something like a Telltale Games title, when those games have you doing those types of things they tend to be a bit boring and drag on, which is probably why Telltale has deviated away from the adventure genre with its latest games. Where am I going with this? Well, with Detroit, the game is so visually pleasing to look at that even the most simple tasks are entertaining to do. While it isn’t usually the case, graphics and presentation are in fact just as important as everything else in Detroit Become Human, and they do not disappoint. Also, one quick little mention: When you’re not taking full control of the camera, the fixed angles offer some brilliant cinematography that constantly had me impressed.
As you probably guessed, quick-time-events play a large role during the action segments — and they’re surprisingly not too bad. They’re just hard enough and just simple enough to keep you on the edge of your seat. The QTEs also have serious consequences. Similar to previous Quantic Dream games, major characters can die during your story, so do not take your eyes off the screen. Luckily, if you don’t want a challenge of any sort, there’s an “easy” mode for people who are mostly playing for story.
A large portion of Detroit you get to play as Conor, an advanced detective Android. During his segments, you get to use hit cool gadgets. Analyzing and scanning the room for clues is a blast and you basically feel like Batman. Lastly, the branching story paths give the game plenty of replay value, especially if you’re a trophy hunter like myself. Plus it’s actually fun going back and seeing how wildly different things can turn out.
As I mentioned before, I refuse to talk extensively about the game’s story aspects, but I have a few cliff notes. First off, there are three main stories that connect in interesting ways that actually matter. Second, the game’s Android-filled Detroit is fascinating the entire experience and it kept me thinking even when I wasn’t playing the game. Then there’s the amazing cast of characters with brilliant performances by an ensemble of actors and actresses. Lastly, the overarching plot goes to places other game studios wouldn’t dare to touch, and I salute Quantic Dream for being a huge proponent of the industry by pushing game narratives forward.
Detroit: Become Human packs three stories that rectify almost all my issues with the studio’s previous titles. With an unforgettable world, an awesome cast of characters, jaw-dropping visuals, amazing acting performances, and the most fluid gameplay we’ve seen from Quantic Dream, it is easily another must-own PlayStation 4 exclusive.