What I'm Playing - No. 159
Welcome back to another weekly wrap-up of the games I’ve been playing over the past week!
Be warned, minor spoilers may be contained within. Generally, I do try to keep things spoiler-free but this isn’t always possible/practical! If you want to totally avoid all potential spoilers so you can play these games yourself in a blind run, you shouldn’t continue reading! Click a title to skip to that section. Games contained within this post:
Detroit: Become Human (PS4)
Set in Detroit in the not so distant future of 2038, Detroit: Become Human is an adventure game that poses an answer to the question: what would our society be like if we developed human-like, intelligent androids? Androids that look human, speak like humans, can perform the same jobs as humans, and follow our every order. The game explores what might happen if these androids inexplicably become…sentient?
Released in 2018 on the PS4, and on PC in 2019 (Epic Game Store exclusive, released on Steam in 2020), Detroit: Become Human splits its narrative between 3 main characters, all of whom are androids: Connor, Markus, and Kara, whose name pronunciation differs depending on which character is saying it. In each chapter of the game, you’ll play as one of those 3 characters, although later chapters with more action switch between the 3 throughout the chapter. Gameplay primarily consists of some basic exploring, choosing dialogue options, making decisions, and performing quick-time events. It’s similar to something like Until Dawn, Beyond: Two Souls, or a game from the Telltale Games catalog.
Where Detroit: Become Human sets itself apart is the number of branching paths its narrative can take. The story heads a certain direction overall, but it can end several different ways for each character, depending on your actions. It’s possible for the main characters to die at various points throughout the game too, usually by failing critical quick-time events. If a character dies, they’ll be absent from the remainder of the story. Beyond that, the choices you make in each chapter are satisfyingly impactful. Not every choice carries the same weight, but a surprising number of them unlock new paths and options in future chapters, or change your path through a future chapter altogether. This is all shown through a flowchart for each chapter, where your choices are reflected, and you can see where the story could have changed based on your actions, and also how options you may have unlocked in previous chapters tie back into the story.
Interestingly, there’s actually 2 difficulty levels to choose from: Casual, and Experienced. I started my playthrough on Experienced, but very quickly decided this was a mistake. Experienced doesn’t give you hints during the investigation mini-games, and it also makes the quick time events more difficult. Instead of just pushing buttons, quick time events on Experienced difficulty will have you move your controller, or flick the right stick in a certain direction. It sounds good on paper, but I preferred the more relaxed pace of Casual difficulty, and I switched over to Casual after playing some of the early chapters on Experienced.
There’s one more gameplay element I want to mention specifically. It’s a kind of mini-game that shows up in Connor’s and Markus’s chapters. Connor’s chapters usually involve investigating crime scenes. When this mini-game comes up in a Connor chapter, you use the triggers to scrub forward and backward in time, and you need to advance to the right times and pan the camera around to find new evidence. It’s a novel idea that helps spice up the gameplay, and I like it.
Without spoiling anything, I’d like to talk about my favorite character a bit: Connor. Connor is kind of like a police detective android. He’s sent by CyberLife, the company that makes androids, to help investigate crimes committed by androids who have developed free will, known as deviants. His story has a buddy movie element to it thanks to Hank, a human, who is also a detective with Detroit Police, and is assigned to the deviant cases as well. After playing through the game myself, and also watching my wife play through the game, I think Connor is both my favorite of the 3 main characters and my favorite storyline in the game. It’s fun to see how his relationship with Hank evolves based on your actions, because there are 2 very different ends of the spectrum their relationship can end up on. Maybe Hank will end up considering Connor a friend, or maybe he’ll end up outright hostile. The choice is up to you, and it’s really interesting how things change because of it.
Detroit: Become Human is a must-play for any fan of this kind of adventure game. It has a lot of interesting branches in its chapters, making for good replayability, and it’s a fantastic looking game. My final time was around 10 hours, but my time for finishing the story was a little less than that since I replayed some chapters to see other routes after finishing the game.