In the future, androids have become commonplace and are filling many roles that are typically taken on by humans. But what happens when the machines suddenly start to become a little too human? What happens when they start to feel? That's the main premise of Quantic Dream's Detroit: Become Human. And while David Cage's narrative is not exactly the most unique idea, the story is far from predictable. In fact, there's a multitude of ways in which the game's tales unfold.
Shacknews had a chance to go hands-on with Detroit during this past weekend's PlayStation Experience. But our experience went beyond our own personal time with the game. It was also in seeing some of our other colleagues in the media try the game out for themselves and in seeing them get wildly different outcomes to our own.
The first playable demo had us take control of android hostage negotiator Connor, a scenario first unveiled back in 2016. The situation is that an android has gone haywire and has a young child at gunpoint on the ledge of a high-rise building. The idea is to talk this android down and get him to release his hostage.
Actually trying this portion of the game, Detroit started to feel like a forensic investigation game. In order to try and connect with distressed android Daniel, Connor was tasked with investigating the crime scene and finding any information he could use. He could check the dead bodies on the ground and try to re-enact earlier events, he could check the child's room for any emotional leverage he could use, or he could speak to the police on the scene. Where the situation started to get more interesting is that time is a factor. Take too long investigating the scene and Daniel will start shooting more officers and more people will die. Rush your investigation, however, and Connor won't have enough tools to work with in order to defuse the situation.
The other playable demo was the one first revealed at PlayStation's Paris Games Week, which sees an android serving in the home of a disgruntled father. Down on his luck after his job was outsourced to an android, this man spiraled into alcoholism and drug use, leading to his wife leaving him without a trace and leaving him alone with his young preteen daughter, Alice. There's no other way to put this, except this is an exceptionally unsettling scenario once it devolves into physical violence against the child. It can be tough to play through, simply because of the heavy subject matter.
As the father starts getting abusive, the android Kara breaks past her programming and develops emotions. It leads her to try and get Alice away from her father, resulting in a slew of quick-time events. In my time with the game, the QTEs flew by fast and sometimes the window was one or two seconds. It was easy to miss a lot of the QTEs in the heat of the moment. Beyond that, there was also a particular set of QTEs that require tilting the DualShock. That gesture didn't always register, leading to some negative outcomes.
Speaking of outcomes, Shacknews faired pretty well in both scenarios. Connor was able to save the hostage, but at the cost of his own life after he tackled Daniel off the building. Meanwhile, Kara was able to help Alice escape her unhinged father and get them both on a bus out of town. However, that's just scratching the surface of what's possible.
After my demo was complete, I stuck around to watch some other media folks play through these scenarios themselves. Almost all of their outcomes were different to my own. I saw the first scenario end with a sniper taking a shot at Daniel, Daniel jumping off the roof with the little girl, and Connor shooting Daniel with a gun he had found at the crime scene. Meanwhile, the second scenario had just as many variables. I saw some folks end their second scenario with Alice shooting her father, Kara subduing Alice's father, and one particularly brutal outcome that ended with Alice's father breaking her neck in a rage and then blaming what happened on Kara. Everyone was then greeted with a vast web of choices and an array of different ways that the situation could have unfolded.
Assuming you can get through the heavy subject matter, Detroit is on its way to being a fascinating tale of androids developing humanity. The amount of possibilities and the different ways that a given scenario can play out made for some interesting water cooler conversation at the show and will likely have the same effect on a handful of PlayStation 4 owners in the weeks after this game releases.
There's still no release date for Detroit: Become Human, but the game is set to arrive at some point in 2018 on PlayStation 4.