Androids’ fates intrigue despite unsubtle writing

A game like this lives and dies on its ability to adapt to player’s choices, and make them mean something. This is something that Detroit nails. Photo: supplied
A game like this lives and dies on its ability to adapt to player’s choices, and make them mean something. This is something that Detroit nails. Photo: supplied

David Cage and Quantic Dream, the team behind Heavy Rain and Beyond: Two Souls , are earning a reputation for creating divisive games. Their latest effort, Detroit: Become Human, is no exception.

Detroit: Become Human does not really play as a traditional adventure game; it is more of an interactive choose-your-own-adventure book in video game form. You play through scenes and make decisions either verbally or in the form of actions.

A game like this lives and dies on its ability to adapt to player’s choices, and make them mean something. This is something that Detroit nails.

Entire scenes play out differently depending on your decisions, which actually have an impact. This means everybody’s story will be different — the mark of success for a game of this genre.

Detroit: Become Human is set in a near-future where humans have androids to do of all their menial tasks in life, from cleaning the house to running an errand. That premise extends, of course, to love interests.

Detroit: Become Human is set in a near-future where humans have androids to do of all their menial tasks in life. Photo: supplied
Detroit: Become Human is set in a near-future where humans have androids to do of all their menial tasks in life. Photo: supplied

The narrative themes are pushed pretty hard by Cage early on, and subtlety is thrown out the window. The androids are treated like second-class citizens by humans. It is an obvious parallel to many examples in our past, namely the slave trade in the southern states of America from 1619 until the ratification of the Thirteenth Amendment in 1865. The way this allusion is forced down the player’s throat in a ‘‘Have you noticed it yet? What about now?’’ sort of way diminishes its overall impact.

You play as three androids: Connor (an android whose job is to deal with android related crimes), Kara (a domestic maid style of android living with an absolute scumbag) and Marcus (an android who looks after an elderly man).

Each character is interesting in their own way, a must in a game like this — players cannot be expected to finish a game they hate a large part of.

Ultimately, how much you buy into the characters’ stories and plights will determine how much you enjoy this game. Given that there is not a great deal of traditional gameplay involved, if the player does not care about the characters, then there is nothing there for them. That is the risk with this style of adventure game.

For me, I bought-in all the way, in the way I loved Heavy Rain in 2010.

If you give Detroit: Become Human a chance — despite its shortcomings — you might find yourself playing your game of the year.

Detroit: Become Human cover. Photo: supplied
'Detroit: Become Human' cover. Photo: supplied

Detroit: Become Human

For: PS4

From: Quantic Dream

Rating: (R16) ★★★★

 - by Simon Bishop

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