written by Maximus Smith
Can machines possess a soul? What would happen if humans created self conscious AI with ambitions, emotions and a desire for independence? Detroit: Become Human, a visual masterpiece by Quantic Dream gives a unique perspective on all of these questions, all while providing an immersive movie like experience that may change the way you think of our society.
The world of Detroit: Become Human is presented from the perspective of three individuals, all of which the player is given control over in bite – sized chunks which serve to build off of each other. All throughout each divided segment of gameplay devoted towards each character, the player is consistently forced to make decisions of morality, constantly being stretched between two evils. In this manner the game succeeds in drawing the player further and further into the world its created by making the player feel as if they were apart of the story. Such immersion, coupled with the notable degree of decisive and intense climaxes scattered about different character arcs, being a unique trait of Detroit Become Human, allows it to stand out from its Quantic Dream developed predecessors, if not for its unique story and character development.
This video game appeals to a broad range of players from many different walks of life, and has the potential to provide an extremely entertaining, and well rounded experience despite it being purely single player. From the intense, and gripping prologue of the story, to the emotionally intense, and open – ended epilogue, the player is given much time to discover, and develop the three main characters on an emotional rollercoaster of trial and tribulation. As one is emotionally tossed to and fro in the world of Detroit: Become Human, I am almost certain the player will be able to relate to, and empathize with many characters in the story, possibly even the “antagonist,” whoever that may be to the player.
On the contrary, the games mechanics are tailored towards arbitrary, and subtle actions and lacks depth in certain instances when combat, and intense action are involved as these are essentially diluted to quick time events, and “press X to emancipate.” In spite of this, the videogame is still able to shine for what it is, as the central focus gravitates towards an experience that relies heavily on the message and interpretation.
Each individual the player will play as in Detroit Become Human has very different ambitions and desires, some of which are extremely conflicting, but in the end revolve around the premise of free will. The solid foundation on which each main character is formed gives sufficient structure and form to the overall story, while also allowing for the player to manipulate and form each character according to their heart’s intent.
The foundation of each character is expressed in their own role designation as an android, and expressed in their demeanor, and the circumstances they are put through. Furthermore, the duality between robot and machine is firmly expressed through the story’s projection of the social structure of the city at the time, which the player can further elaborate on in the form of interpretation, and contextual consideration. The main plot of each story furthers the journey of each individual by providing a sense of dire consequence and tension due to the looming potential for deactivation… or death.
With regards to ethical boundaries, and social norms, the video game provides the player with multiple instances in which they are forced to either conform to the pre established boundaries, or “deviate” from social norms. The multiple instances in which the player is forced to take a side, they are met with consequences that drastically impact the outcome of every major arc of the story. Detroit: Become Human’s implementation of semi- traditional gameplay coupled with a gripping plot, and intriguing characters makes for a must play experience most PS4 users should certainly get their hands on.