Detroit Become Human Review – A Bleak or Sunny Future?
A Future filled with Cyborgs
Detroit Become Human review: One has to wonder what it would be like living in a world where humanity would come to a point where playing God would decide the fate of their entire species. A new species, which rivals the potential and the mere existence of every human being, would suddenly be born and try to dethrone humanity’s place in the animal kingdom.
Detroit: Become Human was released on the 25th of May 2018, exclusively for PlayStation 4. The PC version of the game was released on the 12th of December 2019. Detroit: Become Human was developed by Quantic Dream (a French video game developer and publisher that is based in Paris, France). It was Quantic Dream’s best-selling game, with sales exceeding 6 million copies by July 2021.
The game presents a fresher take to gamers where their actions and decisions would reverberate to future chapters (and even affect how different characters would interact with them). The game does not feature a “Game Over” screen when one of the main characters dies within the early chapter, instead, it proceeds with the whole story without the certain character. This feature is what makes it a unique game and an important highlight in Detroit Become Human review.
The three playable characters are: Connor, an android tasked to help in police investigations and programmed to find androids that have gone rogue (which means that they have “deviated” from what they were programmed to do); Markus, an android that was formerly a caretaker of a famous painter, but he finally “opened his eyes”, he became the face of the revolution; and Kara, an android that works as a housekeeper and the guardian of Alice.
Along the way, the player will meet characters that will influence how the player’s story will unfold. The game offers a story that will branch out which is dependent on the player’s choices and reaction throughout the game, which could be viewed immediately after a player completes a given chapter. It also offers countdowns, which would force the player to think on their feet which decision they should choose, and quick-time events are abundant throughout the game.
Juxtaposition of our Past or Roadmap to our Future?
The game is filled with themes with which humanity is still struggling to provide for each individual: social justice. Though these were presented on the nose, one couldn’t help but ask, when a new species rivals humanity’s greatness, would we be open enough to accept and coexist with them?
It also begs several philosophical questions: “If a being thinks, does it exist?”, “If it exists, does it make it human?”, “What makes each of us or anything else on this planet human?” “Where do technology and sentient beings begin?” These questions converged into a central axis: human identity and consciousness. This consistent point of argumentation has plagued humanity’s curiosity since time immemorial.
For that, we go to the famous thought experiment Ship of Theseus, wherein each piece of the original Ship of Theseus began to rot and the caretaker of the museum replaced them with new ones; after some time, every plank was replaced. This raises the vital question: “Is the ship, which was fully replaced with new planks, the same object as the original ship that Theseus used to sail into a great battle?”
If we follow this same logic, we let go of cells every time we age, and our age progresses. For some time, not a single cell in an individual’s body is not the same as it was when they were born. If that’s the case, are we still the same person when our mothers decided to birth us to this very world?
Rene Descartes put forth the idea that what made humans special is their ability to think. Thus, his famous line: “Cogito, ergo sum.” But, we need to ask ourselves a much deeper question: “The moment another being is much more capable of thought, which rivals the abilities of that of an average individual, does it make them more of a human?”
In the game, the androids have their unique talents, wants and needs, happiness and regrets, love and hate, they possess the ability to make memories (whether it be good or bad ones). The bottom line is it raises several other questions: how should one treat a being that can feel and think like that of a human being? Do we accord rights to these artificial beings on the basis that they can think and feel pain?
Throughout the game, it features parallelism as to how androids are viewed as disposable beings who are treated as lesser beings, even approaching that of how one would treat a wild animal, which is eerily similar to centuries of segregation and slavery that happened, even in modern America.
When the player explores the world of Detroit, you could see androids being ruthlessly maltreated by their human owners, and they even dispatched harsh punishment towards those that showed a little bit of deviance from their pre-programmed behavior. This behavior could also be traced back to the days in America, wherein plantation owners would mistreat their workers and “nip it in the bud” when their African slaves showed any signs that would “deviate” from what they were tasked to do (i.e. showing signs of intelligence).
So how does the game make it Human?
Personally, the primary reason why I wrote a Detroit Become Human review is that the game breathes a new life to the games I love to play (games that have a nonlinear storyline and which emphasizes the need for the player to make decisions that would ripple throughout the game). I’ve been waiting for several years to finally get my hands on this game, and the moment I played it, I have mixed feelings towards it.
The acting done by the motion capture artists was topnotch and it captures the feelings of each scene within the game. I could feel heart-wrenching moments that came with my choices in the game, and I could feel how the surrounding characters could feel with these decisions.
The one thing that stands out to me, and which sparked my interest to write a Detroit Become Human review is that the game has satisfying and unexpected impacts of all the decisions that contribute to the ending which is unique to most of the players. These collective decisions somehow could be attributed to the game’s greatest accomplishment.
I am also engrossed with the storyline, which progresses quite delightfully. I am compelled to applaud the efforts of the writers on how they would oftentimes intersect the storylines of each playable character, which would have a great impact on how the story would unfold for the player.
However, another reason why I felt the need to write a Detroit Become Human review is that I am concerned with the way they presented several philosophical lines of thought, especially the exploration of the question of the Ship of Theseus. Some decisions were “black-and-white” which needed a little bit of nuance from the rest of the decisions that needed the player to explore these “grey areas”.
I am also particularly annoyed by the quick-time events, wherein these events are motion-sensitive. I get that this creates pressure for the players to act upon these events as quickly as possible, but it tends to annoy a good chunk of players.
Overall, I find Detroit: Become Human a really good game and I highly recommend gamers to give it a shot, especially those that like to immerse themselves in a game that needs them to confront ethical problems.
Detroit: Become Human is also a fun game, if you could get your friend to play it also, you could ask them what ending they got based on the collective decisions that they made in their storyline. It would serve as a good conversation for each of your friends, and even get to know your friend better (in terms of how they handle ethical problems).
I’m not a pessimist, I’m a realist.