First Impressions: Detroit: Become Human
As evidenced by my previous article I've been looking forward to the upcoming release of Quantic Dream's Playstation 4 exclusive Detroit: Become Human for quite some time, and I finally had the opportunity to get hands-on with a demo at PAX East. The roughly fifteen minute gameplay experience only confirmed my gut feeling that Detroit: Become Human has a chance to be one of the best games of 2018.
Quantic Dream's narrative driven games are not for everyone-- you either love them or hate them. 2010's Heavy Rain was a brilliant concept that forced the player to make decisions that carried heavy consequences on how the story played out. Beyond: Two Souls, released in 2013, was also built around decision-making gameplay, and greatly improved on movement mechanics and responsiveness, but lacked the consequential heft of its predecessor. Having a chance to get hands-on with Detroit made it clear that Quantic Dream has doubled down on improving from both previous releases, and have built something very worthwhile.
In the demo, you play as Connor, an android brought in to negotiate a hostage situation at a local residence. Even from the demo's opening sequence, the visual presentation of Detroit is on full display. Every detail, from the way Connor's eyes shift around the room as he investigates clues, to the intricate details carved into a quarter that he flips through his fingers, stands out as sharp and stunningly fluid. Quantic Dream has taken full advantage of the power the Playstation 4 has to offer by producing a game that has the look of a Hollywood feature film. After seeing what they were able to pull off visually with Beyond I had high hopes for what they'd be able to accomplish when they created a game designed for the specs of the PS4. Quantic Dream shattered my expectations.
It wasn't going to be enough for Detroit to just look good-- the mechanics needed to be improved upon from Quantic's previous games. Fortunately, gameplay is smooth, movement is fluid, and character animations are impressively human-like. In the demo, I had to investigate the crime scene to learn more about another android, Daniel, who was holding a little girl hostage. The more clues I investigated, the higher chance of success I had, which was clearly messaged to me on-screen with a percentage counter. Detroit provided a freedom in which I was encouraged scour every inch of the room and learn as much as possible, while always having the option to approach the armed android head on. Naturally I did my best Batman impression and found every clue I could. By the time I went out on the roof to talk Daniel down, I had over a 70% chance of success, and ended up successfully saving the little girl, as well as disarming Daniel. Even in this brief fifteen minute interaction there were about seven possible ending scenarios, many of which I saw other players arrive at in their demos. The emphasis on making meaningful decisions is one of Quantic Dream's strengths, and if the rest of the game resembles this brief scene, then I think we all have a lot to be very excited about.
While I've been looking forward to learning more about Detroit: Become Human ever since its announcement, my excitement was closely followed by a bit of skepticism, since I knew improvements needed to be made for this game to truly succeed. I didn't have a ton of time with the game but in the brief moments I did have, my skepticism has washed away. Detroit: Become Human releases on May 25th exclusively on Playstation 4, and I can't wait to see what else the game has to offer.