Detroit: Become Human: Neo-Noir Thriller

Detroit: Become Human: Neo-Noir Thriller

Quantic Dreams’ latest looks absolutely stunning... but how does it play?

We're at E3 this week, covering the year's biggest gaming event. Be sure to check out all our coverage on our E3 2016 hub!

Set some 20 years into the future, Detroit: Become Human imagines a world filled with androids that look just like humans. They do all the mundane, ordinary jobs that regular folk no longer wish to, and everything is copacetic… until certain androids start going off the rails, deviating from their programming and developing emotions. Some disappear without trace. Some perform acts of violence against humans. Some destroy themselves. Others act bizarrely. What’s happening, and what should be done? It’s this premise that Quantic Dreams’ latest game explores.

The demo I watched today at E3 featured a particularly intense scene that involved one of the game’s principle characters, an android hunter called Connor – himself an android – who has been called to the scene of a situation-in-progress. Another android has gone rogue, killing his owner and taking his young daughter hostage on the roof of an apartment building.

The action played out from a third-person perspective as Connor, cool, calm, and collected, walked around the scene and sized things up. He was able to search for clues, and then extrapolate and reconstruct them into key moments that he could then replay in his mind, essentially letting the player piece together the events that occurred leading up to the situation.

After finding several important clues, Connor then walked out onto the rooftop to confront the rogue android. He’d learned that his name was Daniel, and found out that his owner had just decided to buy a new model of android to replace him. Connor conversed with a clearly upset Daniel by using the joypad buttons to deliver different emotional responses. Sometimes there were just a couple of options – both actions and dialog – and sometimes there were up to four different responses to choose from. The negotiations felt tense and gripping, and were presented in a very dramatic, cinematic way.

The demo actually played through the same scene twice to show how different decisions can affect the outcome of the situation. The first time through, Connor didn’t spend as much time looking for clues, and instead went straight out onto the roof to talk to Daniel. Because he wasn’t as well prepared, the conversation went badly, and Daniel ended up falling from the rooftop, taking the young daughter with him. The second time through, however, Connor spent far more time looking for clues, and was able to glean enough information to be able to connect with Daniel and reason with him. As a consequence, Daniel let his hostage go and Connor was able to rescue the girl.

Apparently, these aren’t the only two possible outcomes: There are several others that include Connor plunging to his doom with Daniel. This doesn’t end the game, but simply modifies the game’s story significantly.

It’s an interesting setup, and one that feels like classic Quantic Dreams. In some sense it’s almost like one of those classic choose-your-own-adventure storybooks brought bang up to date as a PS4 game. The choices you can make seem to be very interesting, and I like the way the clue mechanics work. It just comes across as quite innovative, and definitely an evolutionary step forward from Quantic Dreams’ prior games, Heavy Rain and Beyond: Two Souls.

What was also impressive was the exceptional quality of the digital acting: It’s absolutely top notch. From the motion capture to the highly realistic faces, this is a very good-looking game.

While the demo only gave us a brief taste of Detroit: Become Human, I must say I’m quite intrigued at what the finished product might deliver. Unfortunately, however, no release date has been announced for the game as of yet – so your guess is as good as mine when we might expect to be able to play it.

We're at E3 this week, covering the year's biggest gaming event. Be sure to check out all our coverage on our E3 2016 hub!

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