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Detroit: Become Human Review

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Quantic Dream has always managed to deliver stellar narrative-driven games in the past. Fahrenheit, Heavy Rain and Beyond: Two Souls still remain some of the most captivating gaming experiences of recent years. David Cage, the man behind the titles, has a knack for developing strong character to player connections that build the foundation of a gripping story. To be able to decide the fate of people you learn to love in a game and to have that pressure knowing that they could die and be gone for the entire experience is a heavy burden to live with. Especially when you could be the cause of that death. 

Watch the first hour of Detroit in a video below.

Detroit: Become Human has been built on everything David Cage has done in the past while polishing up the wrongs and developing an even more immersive gaming experience for the player. It has its drawn-out chapters but every now and then you get thrown into an unexpected deep end where you question your morals and you see relationships die right in front of your eyes. That is the magic of Detroit and it carries its weight pretty well. 

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Set in the year 2038, Detroit: Become Human follows the story of a series of humans and Androids through a so-called revolution. Androids have become part of the world's population where they now take up the majority of the workplace. Androids are almost one-to-one in terms of humans and look exactly alike. With the revolution of technology ever growing and Androids being a cheap labour option, humans are not happy about it and you either get the very rich who are profiting from this boom or the very poor who are unemployed due to the shift in the workforce. Throughout the game, political themes pop up whereas you start to think of Androids like illegal immigrants who are just fighting for the same rights as humans. Given that they are human-like, the player relationship between you and the Androids build ever so strong throughout the game. 

CyberLife, the company behind all these robots is worth billions and everyone wants an Android to themselves. Why pay a human when a robot will do it for free but little do they know that these Androids are more than just a set of tasks. They can start thinking for themselves, demanding respect and worse of all, can be violent if triggered. 

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The game follows the story of three main Androids as the game's premise takes place around the looming Android revolution. Kara, a recently-repaired domestic robot that swears to protect a young child named Alice from her abusive father. Connor, the most advanced droid ever made, is tasked with tracking down the root of these deviants, a common term for rogue Androids, and Marcus, the droid that takes it upon himself to build an army to show the world #RobotLivesMatter. 

The game hops between each Android in a chapter-based sequence and often they intertwine. Marcus commits a national crime and Connor investigates it in the next chapter. Each of them has their own goals but their personality and the overall outcome of each chapter depends on you. The game has the deepest branching system I have ever experienced in a game whereas the simplest decision could alter the final outcome of a scene or if anything, a relationship imbalance between you and a character. Supporting roles in the game rely on you being a good "friend" to them. 

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Connor and Hank, a drunk former detective, constantly bump heads with each other and you can either fuel the fire or try and put it out and bring them closer together with the decisions you make. Kara and Alice's mother/daughter relationship is a little trickier as you just have this constant sense of fear for what is going to really happen to them as they try and escape the country to safety. She is a droid, Alice is a human, surely they cannot live together happily ever after as Alice presumes. 

Marcus leads the revolution known as Jericho. Your decisions throughout the chapters determine if you are a violent leader or you will take the attention with good ideas and a level head. Each of the chapters and each character feeds on past events. If I decided to kill a hostage during one of Marcus' communication takeover missions then Connor and Kara's reputation in the game would be affected by this because they are droids too. It is a circle and every decision has an impact on your game. If it is not now then much later on. 

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The same goes for relationships with supporting cast members in the game. Throughout the experience, each Android meets people and fellow robots which opens up opportunities for friendships and enemies. Say the wrong thing or come across too forward and it will lock out decisions for future chapters. This adds a huge amount of replayability to the game. 

Detroit: Become Human took me to some gorgeous locations and threw me into some intense quick time events. While I am not the biggest fan of these "quick button pressing moments" it worked for the most part of the game and never felt too hard. Being Androids opens up a new range of things to do. Chasing down a deviant, Connor could hold R2 and choose to see which path through a factory would be faster or safer. This added to the fast-paced decisions made for an exciting scene that left me on the edge of my seat. People could have died or I could have caught the deviant, it was a decision that left me wondering "what if" for the rest of the game. What if I chose to shoot instead of letting a deviant go? What if I ran left in instead of right and what if I did not press that button in time. Would things be different?

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None of this would matter in Detroit if the game was not gripping and it is. You would not care what happens to someone if the game failed to make them important and this could have gone south quite fast. Luckily, David Cage managed to make sure that everyone that is important does leave a lasting impression on you and Android or not, when the times comes you do have a hard pill to swallow. This resulted in a game that left my hands sweaty and my pause button on the standby trying to think about the future based on the decision I was about to make. 

One particular early chapter saw me trying to steal laundry from a laundry mat in order to get Alice dry clothes and disguise myself so Kara could stay at an "Android free" motel. I failed to do this so she slept in a wet broken-down car. I could not help but feel that she was going to get flu and die and I wished I was a little more careful when picking up those clothes. 

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Sure, some chapters in Detroit drag a bit and at first, it feels like there are a few plot holes but when you realize that some chapters won't even happen if you make a certain decision then it makes sense. Some chapters are also not as explosive as others but they tend to help build the tension between the relationships you are trying to build. It is also not all just story going on in Detroit as you have direct control of each Android and you can explore the chapter's hub, interact with things, read magazines and discover new options for decisions later on. Much of the game adds a detective mode to Connor's story where you need to walk around a crime scene, discover any hidden agenda behind the death, restructure the death by investigating the cause and outcome and report on it. It makes for an enjoyable and interactive experience that you crave more and more in the game. 

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Marcus also has his fair share of interactions with the world during his chapters especially when it comes to parkour. You often need to try and determine the best path to get to an open window or try and jump up a scaffolding to pull down a drone. These little mini-game-like objectives are pretty straightforward but they add to the idea that you are an Android and you have the power to predict these movements and outcomes. It definitely offers something unique for the gameplay side of things. 

Detroit does suffer from some of the past mechanical issues found in Heavy Rain and Beyond: Two Souls. It feels stiff at times where player movement gets stuck on invisible walls and interactions with the environments feel unresponsive. The game takes the same annoying controller movements by flicking your DualShock around to perform actions. I do believe we are in 2018 and movements by motion sensing in video games should no longer be a thing. Just let me tap my X button instead of flinging my arms around to try and break the grasp of a rogue Android. 

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Luckily, for the most part of the game, issues like these did not hamper the experience at all. You just need to be prepared for a series of QTEs and when they arrive, make sure you are ready to swing and press everything around you. 

The game has two difficulties to experience. You have the casual mode where your decisions matter just as much as the Experienced Mode but if you are not happy with something you decided then you can go back and change the outcome. The casual mode also has easier controller movements so if you are not in the mood to swing your arms around then this could be for you. It is also recommended that you play the game a few times and purposely make different decisions compared to your last playthrough. I could see myself jumping into the game a couple of times more to see what would have happened and when. 

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The game also has a flowchart after every mission that gives you a clear indication of what choice you made and how it lead to the end of the chapter. Investigating these can give you a small glimpse of what could have happened and it also shows off a world stat that reflects the percentage of people that chose the same decision you did. 

Detroit tells a fantastic story where Androids are slaves and oppressed by humans. Its characters and plot shine brightly through its lengthy campaign with tough decisions to make that alter the future of the characters you are controlling. The game's plot might have a few moments that drag by and take you to some rather questionable locations, but it is gripping from start to finish and the characters you meet along the way all make a lasting impression on you. That is where Detroit wins the game, by telling a great story with a selection of unique characters. 

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Detroit: Become Human is one of David Cage's best works and it offers hours of cinematic playstyle gameplay that is both great to watch and great to play. If you have been a fan of his work then this is without a doubt one you should look at. I am going to head back into the game to uncover more endings and kill off characters on purpose. 

This review was conducted based on a review code sent to us by PlayStation

Available On: PS4 | Reviewed On: PS4 Pro | Release Date: 25 May 2018 | RRP: R1069

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